19 September 2012


Rosaline Courtneidge. Photo: Bassano.

Ever stumble upon a photograph of a person and wonder, who is this? What was this person like? That was the case when I first saw this image of Rosaline Courtneidge. I was immediately drawn to her dark bob and smart suit and shoes. There was her name, Rosaline Courtneidge, but no information about who she was. I had to find out.

The little I have been able to discover is that she was born into a theatrical family on August 19, 1903 in London. Her father, Robert Courtneidge, was a noted theatre manager and playwright. Her mother, Rosaline May Adams (stage name: Rosie Nott), and three aunts were actresses. Her grandmother was an opera singer. Rosaline's older sister, Cicely Courtneidge, became a well-know actress and comedienne.

Rosaline made her own stage debut at 16 in the play The Man From Toronto. She performed on the London stage playing various comedic roles as well as Shakespearean parts with the Ben Greet Shakespearean Company. In 1920 she toured Australia with her father. She even appeared in one film, Oxford Bags (1926), with her husband Peter Haddon. Rosaline had a promising future when on December 8, 1926, she died due to complications from the birth of her daughter also named Rosaline. She was only 23. 

I know there is more information out there to be found in British newspapers and archives. But for now, at least I have more than just a name to associate with this lovely photograph, even if it's a tragic ending.

To see other images of Rosaline, visit the National Portrait Gallery's website here. Speaking of which, if you ever get the opportunity, I highly recommend visiting the museum. It's a favourite of mine, and I always make time to visit when I'm in London. 


  1. I realise that you wrote this 4 years ago... However I have had an old book say on a shelf for some time, today I realised the book is signed by Rosaline Courtneidge! It's a copy of Shakespeares comedies and i believe from the notes and underlining she must have used it to learn her lines, it says under her signature " Henry Baynton, Shakespeare cny 1922" I found an old poster that confirms she was starring in one of his plays at the time, corresponding to the parts that are underlined in the book. Anyway thanks to this post I was able to put a face to the name.

    1. What a wonderful find! Thank you for sharing.



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