Podcast #18: Elsa Lanchester

The last part of our 4-part special FRANKENFRAUEN miniseries, produced in December 2018 by Susan Stone.

In a special encore presentation, Dead Ladies Show co-founder Florian Duijsens tells the story of Elsa Lanchester, the actress made famous by her role in 1935’s Bride of Frankenstein. Recorded live at Bard College Berlin.

Also available on Soundcloud, Spotify, iTunes, RadioPublic, Pocket Casts, Stitcher, and A Cast.

Show notes:

Here are a few trailers to the movies in which Florian first encountered Elsa:

Elsa’s mother, Edith Lanchester. Read more about her scandalous cohabitation and activism here.

“Male impersonator” Vesta Tilley

Above, Elsa’s early favorite Vesta Tilley, and below, a longer version of Elsa talking about her time with Isadora Duncan in Paris

Lanchester’s Children’s Theatre

Below, a recording of Elsa singing one of her Cave of Harmony hits later in life and introduced by her husband, Charles Laughton

Elsa and Charles (right), along with the Lanchester family parrot (middle)

Here’s the delightful full version of the silent short Bluebottles (1928), one of Elsa’s first movie roles, scripted by H. G. Wells.

1934

Above, Charles Laughton; below, Elsa on a terrifying swing at their country home

Embed from Getty Images

The full version of Elsa Lanchester’s role as Mary Shelley in Bride of Frankenstein, and as the creature’s eponymous bride

And here’s rare footage of Elsa live onstage later in life.

And here’s Elsa duetting with Elvis in 1967.

Elsa and Elvis in Easy Come, Easy Go (1967)

If you want to read more about and by Elsa Lanchester, check out her marvelous autobiography, Elsa Lanchester, Herself.

And as a special treat, here’s a version of the perennially problematic (and delightful) “Baby It’s Cold Outside” a sung on the radio in 1950 by Elsa and her husband.

Thanks for listening! Our theme music is “Little Lily Swing” by Tri-Tachyon. Check out the first three parts of our FRANKENFRAUEN series for yet more fascinating women involved in some way with the classic story of Frankenstein.

Podcast #17: Ada Lovelace

Part 3 of our 4-part FRANKENFRAUEN miniseries, produced by Susan Stone in December 2018.

Professor Laura Scuriatti of Bard College Berlin presents the story of Ada Lovelace, accomplished mathematician. She fits into the Frankenstein puzzle by being the only legitimate child of Lord Byron, who was present at the story’s inception. But of course she achieved a whole lot without ever really meeting him. With a live intro from the Dead Ladies Show at the ACUD Studio.

Also available on Soundcloud, Spotify, iTunes, RadioPublic, Pocket Casts, Stitcher, and A Cast.

Show notes:

Here’s Ada in a little sparkly number, painted by Margaret Sarah Carpenter in 1836.

Ada_Lovelace

Here’s a model Babbage made of the Analytical Engine that he and Ada worked towards, on display in London’s Science Museum.

AnalyticalMachine_Babbage_London

And a sketch of the full ballroom-sized thing, never made in real life:

babbage-analytical-engine

Laura recommends three great books to find out more about Ada: James Essinger’s Ada’s Algorithm; a collection of Ada’s own writing in the dOCUMENTA series 100 Notes – 100 Thoughts; and the graphic novel The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage by Sidney Padua:

LovelaceandBabbagemockup-e1420927216954

Thanks for listening! Our theme music is “Little Lily Swing” by Tri-Tachyon. Check out parts 1, 2 & 4 of our FRANKENFRAUEN miniseries for more fascinating women involved in some way with the classic story of Frankenstein.

Podcast #16: Mary Shelley

Part 2 of our 4-part special FRANKENFRAUEN miniseries, produced in December 2018 by Susan Stone.

To top off 2018 and get in one more celebration of the centenary of Frankenstein, beloved DLS co-host Florian Duijsens tells the story of its creator, Mary Shelley.

Also available on Soundcloud, Spotify, iTunes, RadioPublic, Pocket Casts, Stitcher, and A Cast.

Show notes:

Mary Wollstonecraft’s grave marker at St. Pancras, London

by Amelia Curran, oil on canvas, 1819

Percy Bysshe (pronounced “bish”) Shelley, aged 27

from the 2018 film Mary Shelley

Tumblr loves Mary Shelley, understandably.

Barbarossa Chapel, Nijmegen, 1900
Portrait by Amelia Curran, 1819

Mary’s stepsister, Claire Claremont, aged 21

Portrait by Henry Pierce Bone, 1837

Lord Byron in a dreamy, posthumous portrait, below is a portrait of his personal physician, John Polidori.

Portrait by F. G. Gainsford

Here are the trailers for the three films about the legendary summer on Lake Geneva when Mary started writing the horror story what would become Frankenstein.

The title page of the first edition of Mary Shelley’s first novel
Portrait by Amelia Curran, 1819

Mary’s third child, William “Willmouse” Shelley, painted just before his death from malaria.

The Funeral of Shelley by Louis Edouard Fournier

Above, a painting depicting Shelley’s funeral pyre; below, locks of Mary and Percy’s hair

Frankenstein first found popularity through a plethora of (unauthorized) stage adaptations.

The first film adaptation, from 1910, recently restored by the Library of Congress

Below, Mary Shelley’s grave at Bournemouth, plus an engraving of the moment to her and Shelley

If you want to know more about Mary Shelley, do read the biographies by Muriel Spark and Miranda Seymour.

Thanks for listening! Our theme music is “Little Lily Swing” by Tri-Tachyon. Check out the other three episodes in our FRANKENFRAUEN series for more fascinating women involved in some way with the classic story of Frankenstein.

Podcast #15: Mary Wollstonecraft

Part 1 of our 4-part special FRANKENFRAUEN miniseries, produced in December 2018 by Susan Stone.

Your beloved DLS co-host, translator extraordinaire Katy Derbyshire, gives us the low-down on proto-feminist and mother of Mary Shelley, Mary Wollstonecraft. With lots of live atmo from the stage presentation.

Also available on Soundcloud, Spotify, iTunes, RadioPublic, Pocket Casts, Stitcher, and A Cast.

Show notes

Here’s Mary, painted by John Opie. The studious look at the top of this post is from 1790-1 and the more relaxed portrait below is from 1797 or thereabouts.

Mary W 2

For contrast, here’s a fashionable lady with a lapdog from the 1780s, a portrait of Dona Maria Teresa Apodaca de Sisma by Agustín Esteve:

Lapdog lady

Clearly, you’ll want to read Mary’s classic proto-feminist text, A Vindication of the Rights of Woman. We recommend this annotated edition, edited by the excellent Janet Todd.

And if you want to find out more about Mary herself, try Claire Tomalin’s now-classic The Life and Death of Mary Wollstonecraft.

Follow the progress of – or donate to – the campaign to get a statue of Mary put up on Newington Green, where she first led an independent life. Mary on the Green! And here’s what that statue will look like, designed by Maggi Hambling:


maggi-hambling_photoshop-of-woman-installed-at-site-1-on-newington-green_cropped-23

Thanks for listening! Our theme music is “Little Lily Swing” by Tri-Tachyon. Check out parts 2 to 4 of our FRANKENFRAUEN series for more fascinating women involved in some way with the classic story of Frankenstein.

Dead Ladies Show #19

Show number 19 is an all-out fantabulous Frankenstein special… bringing you three terrifyingly impressive dead ladies who led unconventional lives and were all somehow tied up with that genre-defining novel: author Mary Shelley, her mother, Urfeminist Mary Wollstonecraft, and Ada Lovelace, computing innovator (and daughter of Lord Byron). Your presenters for the night will be co-hosts Katy Derbyshire and Florian Duijsens, along with Bard College’s own Professor Laura ScuriattiCome along and join us in our favorite venue, the ACUD STUDIO, on Tuesday, 27 November at 8 pm.

Presented (just this once) all in English. €5 or €3 reduced entry (free for BCB students/staff). This edition generously supported by Bard College Berlin. Doors open 7:30 pm – come on time to get a good seat and a good drink!

And if you cannot make it this time, check out the new season of our wonderful podcast (produced by Susan Stone), which just kicked off last month and has already seduced a great many listeners with its presentations on genius Marie Skłodowska Curie and novelist Aphra Behn, plus special features on forgotten German doctor, reformer and writer, Anna Fischer-Dückelmann, and almost forgotten photographer Vivian Maier. Listen wherever you get your casts!

625px-RothwellMaryShelley

How could we talk about dead ladies and Frankenstein without the original creator, Mary Shelley? Tutored by her philosopher father, including in story-writing, she may or may not have lost her virginity in a cemetery, to her later husband Percy Shelley. Prompted on a rained-in trip to Lake Geneva in the midst of a positively millennial tangle of relationships, Mary first published Frankenstein anonymously in 1818. She lost three children and numerous close friends and relatives before being widowed at 24. Yet she managed to battle depression and raise her surviving son, writing six more novels, plus travel pieces, articles, and short stories, and living on the proceeds. Mary Shelley was a writer with a radical imagination, a woman who challenged social convention and gave us the gift of science fiction.
Mary_Wollstonecraft_Tate_portrait
Her mother Mary Wollstonecraft died eleven days after Mary Shelley’s birth. Best known for her proto-feminist A Vindication of the Rights of Women, she too was never one to do what was expected of her. After publishing her bestselling rant, she moved to France to watch the Revolution unfold, returning to London in 1795 with an illegitimate child fathered by a useless chancer. Baby Mary was conceived out of wedlock too, but her mother swiftly married the philosopher William Godwin to make up for it. Mary Wollstonecraft earned her own living throughout her life, as a lady’s companion, schoolteacher, tutor, and most successfully as a writer of novels, reviews, and philosophical tracts on education. She now has an asteroid in her name.
Ada_Lovelace
Ada Lovelace was the only legitimate child of the poet Lord Byron, one of Mary Shelley’s tight circle of friends present on that fateful stay in Switzerland. Her distant mother, pissed off by her husband abandoning her shortly after the birth, raised Ada to take an interest in mathematics. She built a set of wings in the hope of flying at the age of 12 and became an accomplished mathematician. As an adult, she translated an Italian paper on a proposed machine, the Analytical Engine, which would have been the first computer. Adding notes three times as long as the original, she went ahead and invented the first computer program. Ada Lovelace has sparked imaginations ever since, becoming a popular feminist figure with hundreds of things named after her, including a computer language.

Podcast #14: Aphra Behn + Vivian Maier

Episode 2 of our new season, produced and presented in November 2018 by Susan Stone.

Translator extraordinaire (and DLS co-founder) Katy Derbyshire tells us all about Aphra Behn, the first woman author who lived off her writing. Additionally, our podcast producer Susan Stone visits a new Berlin exhibition of work by the mysterious photographer Vivian Maier and tries to pin down just who took these pictures and how she would feel about them becoming public.

Also available on Soundcloud, Spotify, iTunes, RadioPublic, Pocket Casts, Stitcher, and A Cast.

Show notes

Here’s a sketch of Aphra Behn by George Scharf:

Aphra_Behn Scharf

Here’s a longer version of that Blackadder clip, note the period fashions:

The opening pages of Behn’s Oronoko, in French translation:

Oroonoko

Aphra Behn, “The Poetess”, by Peter Lely:

643px-Aphra_Behn_by_Peter_Lely_ca._1670

More Behn:

Aphra_Behn_by_Mary_Beale_2

If your interest in milk punch is piqued, try any of the delightful recipes out there and serve some Restoration-era cocktails at your next social gathering. And here’s the final extant portrait:

Aphra_Behn_by_John_Riley_E

Katy recommends you read Behn’s The Rover, and the excellent biography by Janet Todd, Aphra Behn: A Secret Life. And at this link you can find a picture of Behn’s grave at Westminster Abbey.

On to Vivian Maier. Here she is in a typical selfie:

PF111457
Self-portrait, undated,  © Estate of Vivian Maier, Courtesy of Maloof Collection and Howard Greenberg Gallery, NY.

If you want to see more of her work, check out the show at the Willy Brandt Haus in Berlin (up until January 6, 2019), browse the website dedicated to her work, or check out the fantastic biography by Pamela Bannos. 

This episode features music by Dee Yan-Key (“Weep No More“), and our theme music is “Little Lily Swing” by Tri-Tachyon.

Thanks for listening! We’ll be back in December with our next episode.

Podcast #13: Marie Skłodowska Curie & Anna Fischer-Dückelmann

Episode 1 of our new season, produced and presented in October 2018 by Susan Stone.

Professor Agata Lisiak teaches us all about the world’s most famous physicist, Marie Skłodowska Curie. And writer David Wagner talks briefly about a forgotten German doctor, reformer and writer, Anna Fischer-Dückelmann.

Also available on Soundcloud, Spotify, iTunes, RadioPublic, Pocket Casts, Stitcher, and A Cast. Try this link if you have an Android device!

Show notes:

Here’s Marie Curie herself:

mariecurie-1

And here she is on that big banknote:

20000-old-polish-zloty-banknote-maria-sklodowska-curie-obverse

The famous shed where she and Pierre worked:

Marie shed

A page from her notebooks, so radioactive they’re now stored in locked boxes:

Marie notebook

A rare NYT obit:

mariecurie_obit

Why not watch one of her two biopics? The Courage of Knowledge (2016) or the super-schmaltzy Madame Curie (1943). 

Agata recommends various books that you might like to read:

Obsessive Genius by Barbara Goldsmith; Marie Curie and her Daughters by Shelley Emling; Making Marie Curie by Eva Hemmungs Wirtén; and the gorgeous graphic novel Radioactive by Lauren Redniss.

On to Doctor Anna Fischer-Dückelmann. Here she is:

AFD

Here are some NSFW images from her million-selling book…

AFD4

AFD3

AFD2

Get David’s book Berlin Triptych. You really should. Or if you read German, we highly recommend Leben

Our theme music is “Little Lily Swing” by Tri-Tachyon.

Thanks for listening! We’ll be back in November with our next episode.

Dead Ladies Show New York Edition #1

The very first NYC edition brings you not just your usual three ladies, but an extra bonus lady as well! These incredible women include a radical Catholic, a history-making dressmaker, a forward-thinking chemist, and a codebreaker extraordinaire. Presented by marketing maven MARY KATE SKEHAN, fashion guru CANDACE MUNROE, doctor and performer CHIOMA MADUBATA, and your host, MOLLY O’LAUGHLIN. Join us as we toast these groundbreaking women at the KGB Bar on Wednesday, 5 September, at 7pm.

Free admission; please buy a drink or two to ensure the future of DLS NYC at KGB.

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Dorothy Day

DOROTHY DAY was a journalist, social activist, and political radical in New York in the 20th century. During the Great Depression, she founded the Catholic Worker Movement, a pacifist and social justice movement comprised of direct aid for the poor and nonviolent political action on their behalf. The Catholic Worker Movement continues to be active throughout the world. Day is a candidate for sainthood in the Catholic Church.

Ann Lowe

ANN LOWE dressed pirate queens, American royalty, and silver screen starlets during her career that spanned over 50 years. Born in the South, to a long line of dressmakers, she took over the family business at the age of 16 by designing a gown for the Governor of Alabama’s wife. She worked her way from Alabama to a studio on Madison Avenue. Her work is featured in museums around the country, including the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and CUlture adn the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Rosalind Franklin

ROSALIND FRANKLIN’s research helped elucidate the structure of DNA, the molecule that determines the growth, development, and reproduction of all living things. She was a chemist and an expert in X-ray crystallography whose results were essential in Watson & Crick’s final model of DNA—but her data were shared with them without her knowledge, much less consent. Franklin also studied viruses, visualizing the first viral atomic structures and studying the structure of polio. At age 38, she died of ovarian cancer, possibly due to her long work with X-rays. During her lifetime, fellow scientists recognized her valuable work on coal structures and viruses. However, her essential work on DNA has only recently been recognized.

Elizebeth Smith Friedman

Through the course of ELIZEBETH SMITH FRIEDMAN’s lifetime, she went from being a Quaker schoolteacher in Indiana to being a master cryptanalyst whose work laid the foundations for the NSA. She went up against Shakespeare conspiracy theorists, rumrunners, and even J. Edgar Hoover. Her work in World War II helped prevent the Nazis from taking over South America, but nearly all of it was a national secret until after her death.

Podcast #12: Anne Lister

The last in our first season, produced and presented in August 2018 by Susan Stone.

Co-host Katy Derbyshire gives us the low-down on the early-19th-century lesbian diarist and traveller Anne Lister, a dead lady who is having a bit of a moment right now.

Also available on Soundcloud, iTunes, RadioPublic, Pocket Casts, Stitcher, and A Cast. Try this link if you have an Android device!

Show notes:

Here’s the new plaque that Susan and Florian talk about:

plaque

And here’s Anne in those two rather different portrayals:

Pages from the famous diary:

Diary

And the inside of the house:

Inside the house

You can read all about Anne in the new biography by Angela Steidele. In German, it’s called Anne Lister. Eine erotische Biographie and in English (in Katy’s translation) Gentleman Jack – out on 1 November. And both of them have gorgeous covers:

Our theme music is “Little Lily Swing” by Tri-Tachyon.

Thanks for listening! We’ll be back in October after a short break, raring to go for our next series.