Our 20th episode features our beloved co-host Florian Duijsens spilling the details on Hollywood actress and Berlin favourite Anna May Wong. Recorded live at ACUD as part of our series on dead Berlin ladies, and produced and presented by Susan Stone in February 2019.
This is our 20th show! Who would have thought that, back when the idea was fermented over a bottle of Rotkäppchen? We’re celebrating in the best way we know – by dressing up fancy and talking about dead ladies on stage. This edition brings you three tales of women who lived flirtatious, outrageous, and courageous lives, each in their own way: a writer of intense fiction and diaries, a celebrity chef, and an anti-Nazi spy. Brought to you by translator, writer, and literary organizer Lucy Jones, writer, campaigner, and foodie Mary Scherpe, and regular Katy Derbyshire. All held together, of course, by your beloved co-host Florian Duijsens. Raise a glass with us – as we toast ourselves and all of you, plus these three fascinating women. Come along and join us in the ACUD Studio on Tuesday, 26 February at 8 pm.
Presented in a messy mixture of English and German. €5 or €3 reduced entry. Doors open 7:30 pm – come on time to get a good seat and a good drink!
East German writer Brigitte Reimann led an eventful life, cut short by cancer at the age of 39. She began writing at the age of 15, initially from within the GDR system, side by side with the workers and on official committees, showered with medals and awards. Reimann wrote short stories and plays for the stage, radio and screen – but publishers rejected her proposals for novels. Having married four times, she said of herself in one of her copious letters: “had a lot of men, did a lot of stupid things – that I don’t regret”. She devoted many years to her novel Franziska Linkerhand, published posthumously and in censored form in 1974, which even received grudging praise from West German critics. Today there are two libraries named after her, and her diaries are gradually being released in English translation.
British TV chef Fanny Cradock’s life was not exactly uneventful either. After her parents frittered away their money she was practically destitute in her youth, and only found her financial feet when she started working at restaurants and discovered fine dining. Eventually, she and her fourth husband got their own BBC television series, teaching the British how to cook fancy dishes without breaking the bank. She fell out of favour after two decades but continued to make the rounds of chat shows and celebrity quiz formats. Cradock is credited with introducing pizza to the UK and inventing the prawn cocktail (not an actual drink, don’t worry), and her eccentric manner mean she is well remembered to this day. Also, two of her marriages were bigamous, because why not.
War heroine Noor Inayat Khan lived to the age of 30. Her father, an Indian musician, playwright and religious teacher, met her American mother through the Sufi movement, and they raised their children in London and France. When World War II broke out, the family fled to England. A convinced pacifist, Inayat Khan hoped to fight the Nazis without shedding blood, and volunteered to train as a wireless operator. She was recruited to the Special Operations Executive and given truncated training before being flown into occupied France as an undercover operative. Betrayed after three months, she held fast under interrogation and twice attempted to escape. After a transfer to a German prison and ten months in shackles, she was executed in Dachau concentration camp. Her statue in London was the UK’s first memorial to a Muslim woman.
This time we have two guest presenters from New Zealand, recorded live at an edition of the Dead Ladies Show presented as part of LitCrawl Wellington, which was produced by Andrew Laking and Claire Mabey of Pirate and Queen. First, renegade historian Jessie Bray Sharpin talks about pioneering mountaineer and journalist Constance Barnicoat. And then we have playwright, poet, broadcaster, book reviewer & theatre critic Maraea Rakuraku telling us about Dr Irihapeti Ramsden, a Māori nurse, writer, educator & anthropologist.
All put together by producer and presenter Susan Stone in January 2019.
Here are our two impressive presenters, Jessie Bray Sharpin (left) and Maraea Rakuraku.
And here’s a photo of Constance to start us off:
(Nelson Provincial Museum, Tyree Studio Collection: 22989)
And here’s her rather lamentable death notice:
She does have a mountain (or three) named after her, though, and here’s one of the New Zealand ones looking lovely:
Here’s a link to the second most badass photo ever taken in New Zealand (warning: no dead ladies featured).
And here’s Constance on the cover of a book, Lady Travellers. The Tourists of Early New Zealand by Bee Dawson:
And now to Irihapeti Ramsden:
Read an obituary in the New Zealand Herald.
You can also read the Booker Prize-winning novel The Bone People, by Keri Hulme, which Dr. Ramsden published in the first place as part of the feminist collective Spiral.
Here’s more about that story. It’s pretty darn impressive.
Maraea provided us with a little background about Captain Cook, who she speaks about in her talk:
Indigenous Māori and indeed most of the Pacific, have a conflicted relationship with British Explorer, Captain James Cook (1728-1779) credited (still) with having ‘discovered’, in 1769, populated for centuries by Polynesians – Aotearoa/New Zealand. This voyage and the two that followed, in (1772-1775) and (1776-1779) were precursors to colonisation, that would overwhelm Indigenous less than 70 years later and lead to the signing of The Declaration of Independence in 1835 followed by Te Tiriti o Waitangi (The Treaty of Waitangi) in 1840. These agreements reinforced the sovereignty and rights of the Indigenous peoples, who at the time were the majority peoples. Introduced disease, combined with the systematic economic, social and spiritual dismantling of cultural systems had a devastating impact upon the Indigenous population, which is still felt to this day.
And here’s a translation of her opening words:
Through my mother, I am Ngāti Kahungunu ki te WairoaThrough my father, Maungapōhatu is my mountainTauranga, is my riverNgāti Rere is my hapu,Tūhoe is my tribe,I am Maraea RakurakuGreetings to you all.
Our theme music is “Little Lily Swing” by Tri-Tachyon.
Thanks for listening! We’ll be back with a new episode in February.
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.
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.
Above, Elsa’s early favorite Vesta Tilley, and below, a longer version of Elsa talking about her time with Isadora Duncan in Paris
Below, a recording of Elsa singing one of her Cave of Harmony hits later in life and introduced by her husband, Charles Laughton
Here’s the delightful full version of the silent short Bluebottles (1928), one of Elsa’s first movie roles, scripted by H. G. Wells.
Above, Charles Laughton; below, Elsa on a terrifying swing at their country homeEmbed 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.
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.
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.
Here’s Ada in a little sparkly number, painted by Margaret Sarah Carpenter in 1836.
Here’s a model Babbage made of the Analytical Engine that he and Ada worked towards, on display in London’s Science Museum.
And a sketch of the full ballroom-sized thing, never made in real life:
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:
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.
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.
Mary Wollstonecraft’s grave marker at St. Pancras, London
Percy Bysshe (pronounced “bish”) Shelley, aged 27
Tumblr loves Mary Shelley, understandably.
Mary’s stepsister, Claire Claremont, aged 21
Lord Byron in a dreamy, posthumous portrait, below is a portrait of his personal physician, John Polidori.
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.
Mary’s third child, William “Willmouse” Shelley, painted just before his death from malaria.
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.
Below, Mary Shelley’s grave at Bournemouth, plus an engraving of the moment to her and Shelley
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.
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.
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.
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:
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:
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.
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!
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.
Here’s a sketch of Aphra Behn by George Scharf:
Here’s a longer version of that Blackadder clip, note the period fashions:
The opening pages of Behn’s Oronoko, in French translation:
Aphra Behn, “The Poetess”, by Peter Lely:
On to Vivian Maier. Here she is in a typical selfie:
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.
Thanks for listening! We’ll be back in December with our next episode.
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.
Here’s Marie Curie herself:
And here she is on that big banknote:
The famous shed where she and Pierre worked:
A page from her notebooks, so radioactive they’re now stored in locked boxes:
A rare NYT obit:
Agata recommends various books that you might like to read:
On to Doctor Anna Fischer-Dückelmann. Here she is:
Here are some NSFW images from her million-selling book…
Our theme music is “Little Lily Swing” by Tri-Tachyon.
Thanks for listening! We’ll be back in November with our next episode.