W.F. Frame, the Man U Know, was a Scottish comedian who took concert parties on tour in Scotland and northern England. Lewis and Julia worked with him for two seasons: a 13-week Lowland tour in 1907 and a 3-week Highland tour in 1908. Julia and Lewis Davenport contributed two acts to the 1907 tour: The Davenports (Magicians and Illusionists) and Doo and Dare (Eccentric Comedy Jugglers). This actual programme was saved by Lewis Davenport. The reverse side of the programme, also illustrated here, shows blue crayon crosses against both of these acts. Lewis often put such crosses against items he wished to highlight.
The Davenports (Lewis and Julia)
As far as we know, The Davenports never worked in Paris, or indeed anywhere in France. Nevertheless, this letter makes it clear that the opportunity was explored. This letter from Georges Pasquier, Impresario and Administrateur at the Etoile Palace in Paris, says that the Berthos had recommended The Davenports act. Les Berthos were acrobatic dancers who had become friendly with The Davenports. It is a well written letter, in that Pasquier lists all the benefits of working at the theatre before using a very typical comment from a booker: ‘Please make me also a reduction on your price, as I cannot afford to pay so high a salary’. It may well be that Pasquier and The Davenports failed to agree on a price, but Julia Davenport’s failing health could have been the key factor: she sadly died from tuberculosis on 30 December 1909.
Lewis Davenport worked solo, as well as with his wife Julia as The Davenports. A less well known act was billed as Theosopho, in which Lewis and Julia performed a Second Sight (thought reading) act. We have a poster including this act on the bill from 30 May 1903. See N690.
By 1906 The Davenports were gaining plenty of work in variety theatres. Will Goldston, the editor of The Magician, clearly felt that they justified being featured on the front page. Also illustrated here is a glowing write up of The Davenports from page 3 of the magazine. The act was usually billed as “No Time to Talk” which, given the speed of the act, was fully justified.
The Davenports had good billing for this week. The order of the acts on the bill was important. The top of the bill was always in large type and was at the top of the list, as here for The Four Emilions. The next best position was at the bottom of the list, again in larger type. So The Davenports would have been pleased to tell friends that “they were bottomimg at the Palace, Attercliffe”.
The Davenports had good billing for this week. The order of the acts on the bill was important. The top of the bill was always in large type and was at the top of the list, as here for The Four Emilions. The next best position was at the bottom of the list, again in larger type. So The Davenports would have been pleased to tell friends that “they were bottoming at the Palace, Attercliffe”.
The Davenports (Lewis and Julia) were on the bill as Lightning Magicians and Illusionists, “No Time to Talk”. Also on the bill was George Mozart – The Clever Comedian in his Latest Successes. In the 1920s George Mozart worked for the Maskelynes at St. George’s Hall. His road to success is a fascinating story which tells us much about life as an entertainer in late 19th and early 20th century Britain. Click here to read Anne Goulden’s article.
This unfinished letter is dated 3 March 1906. The letterhead is of interest, not least because at this time The Davenports used the names Lewis and Marie, instead of Lewis and Julia. Presumably they thought the name Marie added something.
The letter reads: “At inconvenience we have, at your request, taken you out July 3rd. The dates you suggested are not suitable for transfer. Send others. Faithfully yours, Cissie Louie Lawson.” No doubt Ms Lawson was a busy lady, she certainly wasted no time on niceties in replying to Lewis Davenport. Lewis and Julia’s first child, George, was born on 22 April 1905. However, this had nothing to do with the reason for Lewis trying to alter booking dates. Lewis and Julia had landed bookings on the MacNaghten Theatre circuit. This circuit was a so-called Number 2 circuit, one below the Moss and Stoll Theatre circuits which were the Number 1s. These bookings were an important step in the advancement of The Davenports performing career.
This was painted by magician and family friend Bryan Baggs in 2020. It is No. 2 of 30. It is based on a poster design for the stage act of Lewis and Julia Davenport, although no copy of the poster has ever been found. The image was also used for a postcard: see Ref. no. N450. Their act was silent, hence the billing ‘No Time to Talk’. Lewis and Julia performed from 1904-1909, so the date of the postcard is circa 1906.
On 9 February 2012 Anne Goulden gave this talk at the British Music Hall study group in London. It follows Lewis Davenport’s performing career from around 1900 to around 1930 and explains how he juggled his time between his magic business, music hall work, and other performances. On the way it provides an overview of the different types of variety entertainment during the period.
Lewis Davenport and his first wife, Julia, had some success with this act in 1904-09. It was a fast-paced act and, unusually for the first decade of the 20th century, both Lewis and Julia performed the magic. Anne’s talk follows their progress and focuses on the tricks that made up the act. Click below to read how the act developed and what was in it.