I’ve been thinking of posting about this for quite a long time now. It all started when I was presented some old postcards, some months ago. They were all pretty and, of course, held the charm of all vintage items – little discarded treasures, keepsakes that no one wants anymore – but one of them in particular caught my eye. It was a postcard showing a young actress dressed as Shakespeare’s Ophelia:
With her long tresses, worthy of Rapunzel, and the gown worthy of the Queen of Hearts (and also considering my slight obsession with the figure of Ophelia and/or the opheliac), no wonder she instantly caught my attention.
On the bottom of the postcard, it says: Photo by Chancellor, Dublin and underneath MISS N. DE SILVA AS “OPHELIA”. It is unsent, and on the back it also says Printed in Saxony. So. A quick Google search reveals that the actress’s true name was Angelita Helena Margarita de Silva Ferro, otherwise known by the stage name Nina de Silva / Miss N. de Silva, that she lived between 1868/9-1949 and was best known for her roles in Shakespearian plays. Two more “informative” entries on her can be found on Shakespeare and the Players and Stage Beauty, though, in truth, neither is very detailed. But they do display some postcards showing the actress impersonating various characters. And that’s mostly it (though that’s more than I was able to find out about most of my other old postcards). What I thought was most interesting, however, was the fact that most of the other postcards reproduced on said websites seem to have been photographed by Ellis and Walery (London). None shown was made by Chancellor (Dublin), as mine is. Of course, that probably means that most of the plays she was in took place in London, but still, it makes me feel kind of excited to know that I currently hold a possibly uncommon depiction of N. de Silva. Also, I feel that I want to know more about her: who she was, what kind of life she lived, how she died and so on.
I’ve also looked up “Photo by Chancellor, Dublin” on-line, and, randomly, I’ve found a “carte-de-visite” type photo displayed on someone’s Flickr account (front and back), as well as two similar entries in Victorian and Edwardian Photographs – Roger Vaughan Picture Library (lady’s card front, lady’s card back, and gentleman’s card front, gentleman’s card back). Both latter entries are described as dating from cca 1874, so I’m assuming this is the same Chancellor who photographed de Silva. Still wish I could have found out more about her…
Edit: I notice I’ve used the word “most” quite a lot… Apologies… :-s