The letter reads:
Reynolds’s Exhibition and Musical Promenade
St. George’s Place, Lime Street, Liverpool June 26th 1887
You can open here Monday week (July 9th). Is Mr Flynn in London?
Hoping you are well,
I remain, Yours truly, Charles Reynolds
This letter is short but full of interest. It suggests that David Devant had an engagement at Reynolds’s Exhibition and Musical Promenade, Liverpool starting on 9 July 1887. He was then 19 years old, embarking on what proved to be a successful career as an entertainer. The establishment opened in 1858 with its main focus on waxworks but, as the decades went by, it moved increasingly towards live entertainment.
In the late 1880s the Royal American Midgets appeared there. They were General Mite (F.J. Flynn) and his wife, née Millie Edwards. Their lecturer was the young David Devant who also performed magic.
Devant’s autobiography, My Magic Life, describes his time at Reynold’s Waxworks with the Royal American Midgets. Unfortunately My Magic Life does not give the date of the Midgets’ engagement in Liverpool.
Charles Reynolds’ letter mentions a Mr Flynn, who could be either General Mite or his father, E.F. Flynn. It’s appropriate, therefore, to illustrate a poster for the Royal American Midgets. This poster, from the Piccadilly Hall in London, belongs to the Wellcome Collection (Credit: General Mite and Millie Edwards, two midgets on exhibition. Colour lithograph. Wellcome Collection. Public Domain Mark.)