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

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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 #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.

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!

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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.
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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:

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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:

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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:

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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.

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.

Dead Ladies Show #18

Show number 18 brings you another three pioneering movers and shakers, women who forged paths, saved lives, and changed history: a ground-breaking scientist, a feminist activist, and a film icon. Brought to you by professor and migrant mothering expert Agata Lisiak, award-winning language-juggling poet Uljana Wolf, and regular Florian Duijsens. All held together, of course, by your beloved co-host Katy Derbyshire. Raise a glass of something cool with us – as we celebrate three women who altered the way we see the world in the ACUD Studio on Tuesday, 11 September at 8 pm.

Presented in a messy mixture of English and German. €5 or €3 reduced entry. Still generously supported by the Berliner Senat. Doors open 7:30 pm – come on time to get a good seat and a good drink!

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Marie Curie in her laboratory
MARIE SKŁODOWSKA CURIE is the only woman to win Nobel Prizes in two different sciences: physics and chemistry. She started her training at a clandestine university in her native Poland before moving to Paris. For her marriage to Pierre Curie, she wore a dark blue outfit that she later used in their laboratory, a converted shed. Exposed to the elements – both cold weather and uranium – she carried out pioneering research on radioactivity. In fact, she literally invented the word, and also discovered polonium and radium. Her mobile X-ray units were used to treat over a million soldiers in WWI. Her death was probably caused by long-term exposure to radiation. Despite her achievements, Marie Curie was unpopular in France, and she turned down a Legion of Honour award. Still, Paris more recently named a Metro station and a research centre after her, put her on a banknote, and turned her former lab into a museum.

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BERTHA PAPPENHEIM was an Austrian-Jewish feminist who founded the Jüdischer Frauenbund in Germany and set up many charitable institutions for Jewish women and children, providing “protection for those needing protection and education for those needing education.” While being treated for “hysteria” as a young woman, she invented free association (and was immortalized as Freud’s “Anna O.”); her doctor made her worse rather than better and she later refused psychoanalytic treatment for anyone in her care. She worked against trafficking of women, speaking out about Jewish women’s position: “Under Jewish law a woman is not an individual, not a personality; she is only judged and assessed as a sexual being.” In 1934 she brought a group of orphanage children safely from Germany to the UK. Bertha Pappenheim wrote poetry, plays, novellas, and translations, including of Mary Wollstonecraft.

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ANNA MAY WONG is considered the first Chinese-American Hollywood star. Born and raised in California, she began acting at 14, then left high school to go into silent movies. Soon tiring of all the interesting Asian parts going to white actors, while she played stereotyped roles – “Lotus Flower”, “Honky-Tonk Girl”, “Tiger Lily”, “Mongolian Slave”, “A Flower of the Orient”, etc. – Anna May left for Europe in 1928. Greeted as a star in Berlin, she at least got to play women who didn’t die as part of the plot. She made friends with Marlene Dietrich (and Leni Riefenstahl) and gave a revealing interview to Walter Benjamin. After her triumphant return to the States, Anna May Wong finally got leading Hollywood roles – but by far not all the ones she wanted, with racism continuing to affect her career and her private life. Kino Arsenal recently screened a retrospective, and prizes in her name are awarded for excellence in film and in fashion design.

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Podcast #11: Lotte Reiniger

A lovely new podcast, produced in July 2018 by Susan Stone, and presented by Katy Derbyshire and Florian Duijsens.

Our podcast producer Susan Stone tells the story of Lotte Reiniger, a true pioneer of animation (and psaligraphy!). At the end, Dead Ladies Show co-founders/hosts Katy and Florian chat with Susan about exciting developments and podcasts.

Also available on Soundcloud, iTunes, RadioPublic, Pocket Casts, Stitcher, and A Cast. And if you have an Android device, this link should do it too!

Show notes:

Here’s Lotte, cutting up a storm.

Lotte_Reiniger_1922

Her first animated work was called Das Ornament des verliebten Herzens [The ornament of the heart in love] (1919).

ornament

This is the Tricktisch she developed, and that’s Carl there at the top, working the camera.

Lotte_Reiniger,_Carl_Koch,_Walter_Türck,_Alexander_Kardan

Lotte reveals the Marquise’s secret.

These are some highlights from The Adventures of Prince Ahmed (1926), replete with flying horse, evil magician, and beautiful helpless harem girls.

Lotte in her studio in the Abbey Arts Centre, London, still cutting up a storm.

Lotte_Reiniger_Atelier_Abbey_Arts_Centre

Lotte remade her German fairytale series for British and US audiences, including the gorgeous Thumbelina below in 1955. She stopped animating in the 1960s after Carl’s death, but returned to her work in 1975, creating three more films before her death.

If you want to know more about Lotte, start with Lotte Reiniger: Pioneer of Film Animation by Whitney Grace, check out that Google doodle, and you can buy a DVD copy of The Adventures of Prince Ahmed here. As for her admirers, check out the trailer for Michel Ocelot’s Tales of the Night, and definitely watch Rebecca Sugar’s Steven Universe, a gorgeous TV show that paid tribute Lotte in their episode “The Answer”.

Steven_Universe_-_The_Answer

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

Thanks for listening! Check back in September for our next episode.

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Podcast #10: Mary Kingsley & Halide Edip Adivar

A lovely new podcast, produced and presented in June 2018 by Susan Stone.

Our co-host Florian Duijsens gives us the low-down on intrepid Victorian explorer and ichthyologist Mary Kingsley. Plus special guest Binnur Çavuşlu on Turkish writer and activist Halide Edip Adivar.

Also available on Soundcloud, iTunes, RadioPublic, Pocket Casts, Stitcher, and A Cast. Android users can click here.

Show notes:

Here’s where we recorded the show…

Piano

And here’s Mary Kingsley looking lovely and comfortable.

One of Mary’s fish

kingsleyfish

Gratuitous Victorian hippo content

Adhela_and_Guy_Fawkes_1873

To find out more, you might like to start with Mary Kingsley’s little book about hippos, A Hippo Banquet, and then move on to Dea Birkett’s biography, Mary Kingsley, Imperial Adventuress, or the book One Dry Season by Caroline Alexander. 

Now here are a couple of images of Halide Edip Adivar, including the surviving bust.

You can read more about Halide in German, written and illustrated by Binnur herself, at Renk magazine. Part one of Binnur’s series on Turkish heroines is also available in English – hooray!

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

Thanks for listening! Check back in July for our next episode.

Dead Ladies Show #17

For our 17th show, we have three impressive women writers to tell you about, all of whom did something else on the side: a Berlin salonnière, a political activist, and a fanatical journal-keeper and traveller. Brought to you by award-winning writer and translator Isabel Cole, globetrotting journalist Binnur Cavuslu, and regular Katy Derbyshire. All held together, of course, by your beloved co-host Florian. Expect surprises, shocks, inspiration, dedication, and perspiration – as we celebrate three women who lived totally different but equally impressive lives at the ACUD Studio on Monday, 11 June at 8 pm.

Presented in a messy mixture of English and German. €5, or €3 reduced entry. Now generously supported by the Berliner Senat. Doors open 7:30 pm – come on time to get a good seat and a good drink!

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BETTINA VON ARNIM was a countess with a famous brother and a famous husband, but let’s not hold that against her. She fought the tyranny of conventions from an early age, falling out with Goethe and later writing a book of their fake “correspondence.” She composed songs, published dissident writing and also genuine correspondence, and hosted all the Romantic dudes at her salon. Presumably after her seven children went to bed. Bettina used to have her face on a banknote and once had a short-lived settlement in Texas named after her. Now there’s an ambition.

halide-edip-adivar

HALIDE EDIP ADIVAR was a novelist, women’s rights campaigner, and activist alongside Mustafa Kemal Atatürk. Her novels broke boundaries in Turkish literature, presenting a new type of woman with a mind of her own. She helped set up Turkey’s first feminist organization and gain women the right to divorce – and then she went ahead and left her first husband while she was at it. After a falling-out with the nationalists, she taught at universities in New York, Delhi, and Istanbul. Halide rather outdoes Bettina in death, what with having a crater on Venus in her name.

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ANNE LISTER was a philandering lesbian and writer of 24 volumes of diaries in pre-Victorian Yorkshire. She wooed and bedded various upper-class ladies in search of true love, or at least a wife who could keep her in comfort. She went against sartorial convention, too, wearing only black except when in the presence of royalty. Anne was a very adventurous traveller, fond of climbing mountains and attending balls in out-of-the-way places. Her travels took her all the way across Europe and along the frozen Volga to Tbilisi – in a carriage with a broken window. She has a mountain pass in the Pyrenees named after her, which is better than nothing.

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