Friday, 14 May 2010

Miss Gwen Farrar

"What'll I do? wailed the woman, just like MISS GWEN FARRAR The Woman Who Buried Cats - a poem by Malcolm Lowry 1926

The deep-voiced, cello-playing comedienne Gwen Farrar (1899-1944) was best known as the on- and off-stage partner of Norah Blaney (1894-1984) throughout most of the 1920s and 30s.

I imagine that Malc caught her act during the 20's in a theatre in New Brighton, Birkenhead or Liverpool. This is yet another example of Lowry referring to "low brow" cultural icons in his work which sit alongside his more literary and esoteric references.

The silent Pathe short below of revue stars Gwen Farrar and Norah Blaney fooling around on the golf course seems appropriate given Malc's love of golf. This silent clip is accompanied by their 1922 recording of "Second Hand Rose"


The most in-depth biography that I can find on Gwen Farrar can be read at John Culme's Footlight Notes

They all fall in love - Gwen Farrar and Norah Blaney:

Moanin' for you - Norah Blaney and Gwen Farrar:

1 comment:

  1. You have to remember that a good part of Lowry's literary production relates to British Columbian (Canadian) scenery and settings - books and poems.

    That's the rationale behind his being claimed as a British Canadian writer.

    Of course, there's every good reason for the British to claim him as a British writer too.

    The important thing is to keep his writings alive.

    We here in Canada are doing our part. And yes, Lowry brought his love of nature and dislike of industrial cities to his life in Dollarton B.C. (now part of the District of North Vancouver) - he hated Vancouver in the same way that that Liverpool left him cold. His need to see nature preserved is obvious in his Canadian writings, and the site of his shack on piles along the shore of Burrard Inlet is magical from a natural point of view, grand pine trees and grandiose ocean inlet views of mountains. The memory of his shack is still preserved in Cates Park, which runs along the Inlet. The "Malcolm Lowry Walk" along the shore in Cates Park passes the site, where a stele announces the location of where it once stood, and a plaque honouring Malcom Lowry is in full view of passersby - an example for the towns of Wirral or New Brighton??