Edna May
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Roy Sambourne
Roy was a lifelong friend of Edna's from 1899 right up until his death in 1946. Roy was the son of Linley Sambourne, the cartoonist for Punch magazine. The home where he was born and lived his entire life, is now a public museum. It is still decorated and furnished as it was in the Victorian Era. The Sambourne Family Home also houses the Sambourne collection and archives, including diaries and journals written by Roy throughout his life.
The following excerpts are from "An Edwardian Bachelor - Roy Sambourne 1878-1946", pages 12 thru 15 with courtesy and permission from the author, Shirley Nicholson.
Nineteen year old Roy saw the play near the beginning of its London run and, like so many other young men, was immediately bowled over by Edna's charms. He had already collected photographs of several pretty actresses who took his fancy and soon had an impressive number of Edna too. These he took up to Oxford and used to decorate his rooms in college. He wrote proudly to his parents that he was the envy of all his friends who kept dropping in especially to admire his collection. Content at first to worship from a distance, his devotion was rewarded by an actual meeting with the star in April 1899.
In after years, whenever Roy was feeling old and neglected, the pages of his diary gave him an opportunity to reminisce about the happy days of his youth. Long paragraphs were devoted to Edna May and the curious relationship which developed between them.
"Edna has had a wonderful and varied life. No girl probably ever made such a furore as she did when she first appeared in London in April 1898 in The Belle of New York. She literally took the town by storm and thousands flocked to see her. Men fell in love with her by the dozen - guardsmen, City men, men about the town gathered at her house and vied with one another to entertain her - a girl not 20 years of age. I met her exactly one year after her first appearance, at a dance (given by the Impromptu Club) which she specially came up for at Oxford. I was given two dances and like the rest fell madly in love with her. Luckily, I had no money to waste or Heaven knows to what lengths I might have gone."
Roy does not say how he managed to arrange more meetings with Edna, but from now on he was drawn into her circle. His photograph album shows him posing with the May family (Edna was always closely chaparoned by her mother and her sister Jane) first in a garden - where the party are amusing themselves by wearing each other's hats - then boating on the Thames. These are professional photographs, not snaps, so Roy's excitement at being asked to pose with someone so much in the public eye must have been intense.
"I will do Edna the justice to say that she gave me no encouragement whatsoever - in fact I don't think she even liked me - but I went on adoring her just the same and a smile or a nice word from her thrilled me with exultant pleasure."