Great Stage Beauty: Miss Mabel Love, “The Pretty Girl of the Postcard”

Mabel Love (1874 – 1953), was a British dancer and stage actress. Love made her stage debut at the age of twelve, at the Prince of Wales Theatre, playing The Rose, in the first stage adaptation of Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland. She was considered to be one of the great stage beauties of her age, and her career spanned the late Victorian era and Edwardian period.

In March 1889, under the headline “Disappearance of a Burlesque Actress”, The Star newspaper reported that, by then 14-year old, Love had disappeared. It was later reported that she had gone to the Thames Embankment, considering suicide. This publicity served merely to increase the public’s interest in her. When photographer Frank Foulsham had the idea of selling the images of actresses on postcards, Love proved to be a popular subject leading one writer to christen her “the pretty girl of the postcard”. In 1894, Winston Churchill wrote to her asking for a signed photograph.

Over the following 30 years, she starred in a series of burlesques, pantomimes and musical comedies. Among her successes were, as Francoise in La Cigale and as Pepita in Ivan Caryll’s Little Christopher Columbus. Later, she appeared at the Folies Bergère in Paris and in Man and Superman on Broadway. Love retired from the stage in 1918 and, in 1926, she opened a school of dancing in London.

 

NPG x12571; Mabel Love in 'A Modern Don Quixote' by London Stereoscopic & Photographic Company

Mabel Love in ‘A Modern Don Quixote’ by London Stereoscopic & Photographic Company
albumen cabinet card, 1893

© National Portrait Gallery, London via

NPG x193897; Mabel Love by Bassano Ltd, published by  Rotary Photographic Co Ltd

Mabel Love by Bassano Ltd, published by Rotary Photographic Co Ltd
postcard print, 1900s

© National Portrait Gallery, London via

NPG x193893; Mabel Love by Bassano Ltd, published by  Davidson Brothers

Mabel Love by Bassano Ltd, published by Davidson Brothers
postcard print, 1900s

© National Portrait Gallery, London via

NPG x193894; Mabel Love by Bassano Ltd, published by  Rotary Photographic Co Ltd

Mabel Love by Bassano Ltd, published by Rotary Photographic Co Ltd
postcard print, 1900s via

© National Portrait Gallery, London via

NPG x193895; Mabel Love by Bassano Ltd, published by  Rotary Photographic Co Ltd

Mabel Love by Bassano Ltd, published by Rotary Photographic Co Ltd
postcard print, 1900s

© National Portrait Gallery, London via

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