Miss Gaynor Rowlands a short biography.




An Obituary

Issue no 1,618 Vol LXII - Sat 17th Sept 1904

To the Collection...


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Gaiety Theatre Programme 1912


Gaynor Rowlands. b 3.4.1883 - d 18.7.1906


Born in London from parents of Welsh descent Miss Rowlands began her career in the ballet of the the Empire theatre London where she graduated under Miss Katie Lanner around 1900. She showed great enthusiasm for her vocation and her dancing and singing talent which soon brought her to the notice of George Edwardes of 'The Gaiety Theatre' and after joining his company She toured India as a Gaiety Girl from 1901 to 1902

Described as "A robust English beauty" and having "Very lovely red hair" "A sparkling smile" and owning a " Charming singing voice" it wasn't long before Miss Rowlands became a firm favourite in the London Chorus lines. Her first noteworthy performance was in 'The Toreador' at The Gaiety Theatre a musical starring Gertie Millar,which she joined in the spring of 1903. After the completion of The Toreador's run in July, she joined the cast of 'My Lady Molly' at Terry's Theatre ( Another George Edwardes Theatre) where she became a favourite with the theatre going public in her performance of the role of 'Hester'

1904 Saw Gaynor Rowland consolidate her career with continued 'named' parts in musical comedy plays now as a full time "Gaiety Girl" In the Plays La Poupee as "Henri" and into 1905 as Zelie Rumbert in The Orchid. It is worth mentioning here that the role of Zelie Rumbert as her other roles,would have been "shared" by up to four actresses over the run on the play. This is common practice now, as then in the theatre.

After the run of The Orchid, Miss Rowlands was holidaying at Aix-Les-Bains in France where she struck up a casual relationship with Gilbert Frankau, the war poet and novelist. The relationship appears to have continued upon their return to London where he " Continued to take supper with Gaynor" He tells us in his autobiography "Self Portrait" that "Gaynor and I were never more than platonic friends, but she opened up a new world for me-the world of the stage door, of "Oddy's" and Romano's at curfew hour, of the Saturday supper train to Clacton, and the discreeter houses in St Johns Wood"

The part of 'Sylvana' in The Spring Chicken came next. Miss Rowland's career was growing as was her popularity and reputation in the theatre. She was Featured in the periodical 'The Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News' in May 26th 1906 in scenes from The Spring Chicken.

It was very shortly after the completion of The Spring Chicken that Miss Rowlands became ill with Appendicitis ( Known as Perityphlitis at the time) Weakened by the illness, Miss Rowlands underwent surgery on the 12th of July .Although initially a success, in her weakened condition , she failed to recover from the ordeal and died of Heart Failure. on the 18th of July. She was 23.

Her Funeral took place on Monday the 23rd of July 1906.The funeral Cortege left from 13 Cavendish Road St JohnsWood at 2.30 pm and continued to Finchley Cemetary in North London, where she was laid to rest. At the vault side the chief mourners were her Mother H.N.Gibson and her two sisters Miss Gwladys Parry and Miss Gwen T Parry. also present were many freinds from her proffession.Miss Rowlands death Greatly affected her fellow artistes. She was as popular behind the curtain as in front. There is little doubt if she had survived she would have went on to starring roles and perhaps have "married well" as many of her conteporaries did.


Plays.( Incomplete)

The Toreador ;The Gaiety Theatre-1903

My Lady Molly ;Terry's Theatre 1903-4

La Poupee-(Henri) ; The Prince of Wales Theatre 1904

The Orchid -(Zelie Rumbert) ; The Gaiety Theatre -1904

The Spring Chicken -(Sylvana) ; The Gaiety Theatre-1905


Bloom and Blossoms ( Undated from postcard info)

Cleopatra ( Possible Scenario for early film or Lantern slide Series)

Picture Post Cards.

Miss Rowlands began to pose for portrait postcards early in her career and became one of the most photographed 'Gaiety girls' with a great variety of Picture postcard of her theatre roles in circulation as well a portrait's taken particularly for the Postcard trade. Many Chorus Girls and famous actressess could garnish their income to a significant degree with contracts with postcard companies such as Davidson, Balmforth and Tuck's



I would like to thank Steve Bartlett for providing me with much of the information I needed to produce this Bio. His Article in the Picture Postcard Monthly Oct 2006 was particularly usefull, as were the copies of his research data he kindly sent me. I would also like to thank the people who's webites provided me with a fact here, a date there for whom in my enthusiasm for my subject matter, neglected to remember their names, Doh!

I would also like to thank the late Gilbert Frankau(April 21, 1884- 4 November 1952) for his input, and his novels which I have read and enjoyed. Also I would like to mention the following conteporary publications of Miss Rowlands.

The Play Pictorial, The Era, The Stage, The Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News,


Section from a Picture Postcard


Her Monument in East Finchley cemetary

(Photo by Simon White ; all rights ect.)


The Engraving Reads...


In the most sacred memory of the dearly beloved


To the Irreparable grief and loss
of her loving mother and sisters
Passed to the higher life July 18th
Laid to rest July 23rd 1906, aged 23 years

Alas that spring should vanish with the Rose,
that youths sweet manuscript should close,
the nightingale that in the branches sang,
ah whence and wither flown again, who knows!