Walter Russell is my third great grandfather through my mum’s family. Russell lived in Primrose Hill, Bedford Park, Kensington. His son, Lucien Oldershaw, my second great grandfather, was responsible for making GK Chesterton, one of Orwell’s most referenced authors. Lucien was at St Paul’s where he met GK Chesterton and was supposedly adored by all at St Pauls because of his father’s cultural profession as an actor. Lucien Oldershaw was a scholar at Christ Church Oxford where he was the President of the Oxford Union debating Society. He acted as the greatest guide in GK Chesterton’s. He introduced Chesterton to George Bernard Shaw and Hillaire Belloc. They married sisters, Ethel married to my great great grandfather Lucien Oldershaw and Frances married GK Chesterton, from the Blogg family in Bedford Park.
Walter Oldershaw, actors name Walter Oldershaw, was a great actor who played the country and played in London: The Haymarket, Lyceum, Vaudeville, Drury Lane, Gaiety, Terrys, Bijou, Camden Theatre (modern day KoKo), Richmond theatre, Birmingham, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Belfast, Dublin.
Drury Lane Theatre
1885 was the great moment where Californian actress Mary Anderson was provided the Lyceum theatre for the year by Henry Irving, the greatest actor of the day. She was the cover of London Illustrated Times in 1887 for the Winters Tale. She was a prodigal Shakespearean actress. Walter Russell was part of Mary Anderson’s company. He was Friar John for the Romeo and Juliet that starred Terris as Romeo and Anderson as Juliet (https://www.amazon.com/William-Terriss-Anderson-Theatre-Program/dp/B085XNC6XY). He was Joseph for the play written for Mary Anderson by Gilbert from Gilbert and Sullivan called Comedy and Tragedy (https://gsarchive.net/gilbert/plays/com_trag/comedy_tragedy.pdf ). The V and A hold a silk programme from Comedy and Error which shows W Russell as Gilbert: https://collections.vam.ac.uk/item/O1368032/pygmalion-and-galatea-silk-programme-nassau-steam-press/. Comedy and Tragedy was played at the Drury Lane theatre organised by Augustus Harris for a charity event. Both Augustus Harris and William Terris are buried in Brompton cemetery. In the United Kingdom Mary Anderson was friends with Wilkie Collins, Lord Tennyson, Lord Lytton, Gladstone, Harris who was the first to proposition that she came to the UK, and Irving. She went to France and interviewed Victor Hugo.
Romeo and Juliet playing at the Lyceum Theatre, owned by Henry Irving, 1885, Walter Russell playing Friar John.
Comedy and Tragedy, programme from the Lyceum Theatre 1885, play written by Gilbert from Gilbert and Sullivan for Mary Anderson, programme held by the V and A including Walter Russell.
Mary Anderson in 1887 The Winters Tale.
In 1890s Walter Russell directed and acted in his own show at the Vaudeville Theatre on the Strand. The play was called Silver Shield and was by the famous playwright Sidney Grundy. Russell also seems to have been part of many of the plays written by Henry Arthur Jones, who debated with George Bernard Shaw and maybe explains why Walter’s son Lucien Oldershaw was an acquaintance of Bernard Shaw and introduced his great friend and possibly GK Chesterton to him in Rodin’s studio in Paris.