Birth: 1888 - September Quarter
Place or Registered Place of Birth: Chiswick, Middlesex
Baptism: Not Known
Place of Baptism: Not Known
Death: September 1957
Place or Registered Place of Death: Bournemouth, Hampshire
Father: Henry Marriott Paget
Mother: Henrietta Farr
Spouse(s): Percy William Rhodes
Date of Marriage: 1908 - March Quarter
Place or Registered Place of Marriage: Hampstead, London
James H. Rhodes (1922-1923)
Peter Rhodes (1910-)
Dorothy was a dancer as well as an actress.
YEATS, William Butler (1865-1939). Two autograph letters signed, the first to Dorothy Paget (later Mrs Percy Rhodes), 18 Woburn Buildings, n.d. , 2 pages, 8vo (spotted), autograph envelope addressed to Miss Paget at the Gaiety Theatre; the second to [her daughter] Mrs Rhodes, Athenaeum Club, 15 September [n.y.], 1½ pages, 8vo; and a letter by Winifred Emery.
Explaining in the first letter that 'although you would please me better as the Countess Cathleen than anybody else will', he has been obliged to give the part to Miss Whitty, while preferring Dorothy's new style of acting which only he and Mrs Emery [the actress Florence Farr] have as yet accepted. He asks Mrs Rhodes about a portrait of Mrs Emery painted by Harry Paget, 'No portrait of Mrs Emery has ever been published though she has I think her place in history as well in the memory of friends & those who in their youth heard her recite'.
Dorothy Paget was the niece of Florence Farr, mistress of both Shaw and Yeats who had encouraged her in the chanting style of verse-speaking which Dorothy also practised. The Countess Cathleen was to be performed as part of the Irish Literary Theatre's programme in May 1899.
THE COUNTESS CATHLEEN AND THE REVIVAL OF THE BARDIC ARTS
by Ronald Schuchard
On 24 February 1899 W. B. Yeats signed and dated the preface for the new edition of his Poems. The volume contained his latest revisions of The Countess Cathleen, a play first written for Maud Gonne ten years earlier and revised now for the opening production of the Irish Literary Theatre in May. After mailing the manuscript, he requested his publisher to run special proofs of the play and print copies for rehearsal purposes, unaware of the several controversies that the play would provoke before, during, and after the performance. As we have celebrated the centennial of that production with a staged reading at Clemson, I would like to revisit the extraordinary context of the first production as a prelude to extricating from all the turmoil what was to Yeats most at stake in founding the theatre and staging his play—the recovery of the lost arts of rhythmical speech and speaking or chanting to musical notes. The history of this recovery, I hope to show, is inextricably intertwined with the twenty-year drama of The Countess Cathleen and became part of a poetic and cultural dream of a revived oral tradition that would restore the imaginative arts to the people of Ireland once again.
It had indeed been a difficult endeavour, more taxing to Yeats than the accompanying theological crisis. He had invited his friend the English actress Florence Farr (Mrs. Emery) to stage The Countess Cathleen for him. Farr had directed and played in his Land of Heart’s Desire at the Avenue Theatre in London five years earlier, when her young niece, Dorothy Paget, played the faery child, chanting under Farr’s direction her “strange and dreamy” lines. Dorothy, now sixteen, was tapped to play Cathleen; Farr’s friend the English actress and elocutionist Anna Mather agreed to play Oona, Cathleen’s nurse; Farr herself took the part of the bard Aleel and began rehearsals in London, training the principals in rhythmical speech and chanting. In April, Farr journeyed to Dublin to begin stage preparations, give press interviews, and prepare Dubliners for the romantic dramaturgy of the play. “One of the greatest difficulties we have had,” she told the Daily Express, is to find actors who can recite verse properly. Since the introduction of prose plays and the natural style of acting that art has almost disappeared. When poetic drama was the inevitable form, actors were as much orators as actors. It is not, of course, the old style of declamation that we want, but when verse is spoken as prose it is intolerable. . . . But when verse, I mean, of course, blank verse, is properly spoken, it has a charm altogether independent of its meaning.
Yeats himself wrote letters to the press and gave lectures in London and Dublin on their method, asserting that “our actors must become rhapsodists again and keep the rhythm of the verse as the first of their endeavours.”4 In the midst of these public preparations, however, the Ibsenite George Moore, a founding director of the Irish Literary Theatre, descended upon the London rehearsals. When Moore saw Dorothy Paget and heard Farr’s verse speaking instructions, a vision of financial disaster led Moore and Martyn to depose Farr as stage manager and remove Paget from the role of Cathleen. They replaced her with the English actress May Whitty, who also had the lead in The Heather Field, and turned over the stage management to her husband Ben Webster. Yeats, powerless and submissive before this coup de realisme, wrote apologetically to Paget, who was demoted to reciting Lionel Johnson’s opening prologue and playing the lesser role of Sheogue.
Then, on 10 June 1902, in the hall of Cliffords Inn on Fleet Street, Yeats, Dolmetsch, Farr, and her two nieces Dorothy and Helen Paget gathered to launch the new art with a lecture-demonstration on “Speaking to Musical Notes.” A specially printed and widely circulated handbill had been received with great curiosity by the press, which, describing the program as “so unlike the age,” gave it unusual notice.41 Literary London was there, attests Pixie Smith, “packed like herrings in a box.”42 Dolmetsch took the chair and provided musical explanations. Yeats, in his flowing purple tie gave the lecture, and Farr with the Misses Paget in green and purple robes held their psalteries like lyres as they spoke, lilted and chanted Yeats’s “Impetuous Heart” and lyrics by AE, Blake, Shelly, Swinburne, Lionel Johnson and Arthur O’Shaughnessy. Yeats was jubilant after the lecture and wrote to Lady Gregory on his thirty-seventh birthday: “My lecture was a great success. People were standing up and many could not get in. . . . We have spent the money on new psalteries and on charming dresses for our troubadours to speak in. Dolmetsch is now making little tunes for my Wandering Aengus and some of my other things to be spoken to”
In 1971, when she was in her late eighties, Dorothy Paget Rhodes, who played the role of the Faery Child in The Land of Heart’s Desire in 1894, lamented the disparity between her old age and her early role as the immortal dancer from the Country of the Young.
Hand written letter to Dorothy Paget.
"My Dear Dorothy,
Last night I heard you were in Dublin and seen on the Gaiety stage. I am here in my studio. Do find me out. I am here from 10 to 5 O'clock. I am just inside the door of no. 7 (the 2nd door). You will see on the wall, my name with a hand printing, that will show you where to find me.
Yours, J.B. Yeats. "
Signed J.B. Yeats, 7 St. Stephens Green, Dublin. October 12, '03.
(Dorothy Paget, Actress, Daughter of Henry Marriott- Painter)
Lot 405 :
YEATS, William Butler (1865-1939).
Two autograph letters signed, the first to Dorothy Paget (later Mrs Percy Rhodes), 18 Woburn Buildings, n.d. , 2 pages, 8vo, autograph envelope addressed to Miss Paget at the Gaiety Theatre;
"I am very sorry but, although you would please me better as the Countess Cathleen than any body else will, I have been forced to give the part to Miss Whitty. . . . You act exactly as I think verse should be acted but you act according to a quite new way, according to a theory of acting which Mrs Emery & myself alone as yet have accepted. Miss Whitty acts in the old way & will be quite sure of succeeding up to a certain point. . . . She will make her audience cry by the usual stage methods of pathos of manner & expression, but you brought tears to both Mrs Emery’s eyes & mine not by pathos but by beauty [of speech].”
The second letter addressed to Mrs Rhodes, Athenaeum Club, 15 September [n.y.], 11/2 pages, 8vo ; He asks Mrs Rhodes about a portrait of Mrs Winifred Emery (actress and sister-in-law of Florence Farr), painted by Harry (H.M.) Paget;
'No portrait of Mrs Emery has ever been published though she has I think her place in history as well in the memory of friends & those who in their youth heard her recite'.
Dorothy Paget was the niece of Florence Farr ( mistress of both Shaw and Yeats). The Countess Cathleen was to be performed as part of the Irish Literary Theatre's programme in May 1899.
NOTE: FROM THE SOUTH CAROLINA REVIEW:
Yeats had invited his friend the English actress Florence Farr (Mrs. Emery) to stage The Countess Cathleen for him. Farr had directed and played in his Land of Heart’s Desire at the Avenue Theatre in London five years earlier, when her young niece, Dorothy Paget, played the faery child, chanting under Farr’s direction her “strange and dreamy”.
76, Parkhill Road, Hampstead, London
Henry M. Paget - Head - Married - 44 - 1857 - Artist and Illustrator - Clerkenwell, London
Henrietta Paget - Wife - 49 - 1852 - St. Johns Wood, London
Gladys M. Paget - Daughter - Single - 20 - 1881 - Chiswick, Middlesex
Dorothy Paget - Daughter - Single - 18 - 1883 - Chiswick, Middlesex
Ferrand Paget - Son - 13 - 1888 - Chiswick, Middlesex
Geoffrey Paget - Son - 11 - 1890 - Middlesex