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‘ENGLAND’S GEM’
The Story of Bessie Bonehill.
By
Richard Bonehill .
 
 
Bessie Bonehill was an international superstar of the Victorian Music Hall . Having been born into poverty she 'trod the boards' of her native West Bromwich , took London by storm , conquered New York and became one of the most famous and wealthy entertainers of her day . She toured the American West with sheriffs riding shotgun on her luggage , had to flee from South Africa on the outbreak of the Boer War and performed in South America and it was only her death which prevented her from undertaking a long promised tour of Australia . She is recognized as the first of the Victorian 'male impersonators', a forerunner of Millie Hylton , Vesta Tilley and Ella Shields . It was said that her songs were whistled and sung all over the civilised world. Her importance in the history of the British Music hall has been hugely underrated ( and undocumented) due in no small part to the fact that she left England at the height of her fame to perform and live in America , leaving one British Music Hall manager to comment at the time that 'she had sold out to the mighty dollar !'. She was however one of the most loved and well respected of all the music hall 'greats' and her ability to instantly 'buttonhole'and captivate her audience earned her the affectionate title of 'England's Gem'.

This attempt to chronicle the life of Bessie Bonehill (a cousin four times removed) is the result of over 20 years of intermittent research - when time and money has allowed -. As far as I am aware this is the first publication on the life of Bessie Bonehill ( I certainly have not discovered another one, unfortunately ). My sources have been family records , references from books on the British Music Hall , contemporary newspaper and magazine articles both in the United Kingdom and The United States of America . I am aware that there are many ‘gaps’ in the story of Bessie’s fascinating life which to date I have been unable to fill . However I came to the decision that I had to ‘bite the bullet’ and get something down on paper or my efforts were destined to be discovered as a pile of dusty papers after I had shuffled off this mortal coil , only to be disposed of with the rest of me. It is hoped that the appearance of this first booklet (Ti’s a poor thing but mine own !) will bring to light information which I have been unable to unearth to date . If you have any information , photographs , music sheets etc. in fact any information relating to Bessie I would be delighted to hear from you .

‘ENGLAND’S GEM’
The Story of Bessie Bonehill.
By
Richard Bonehill .

Paperback A5 , 5˝” x 8” . 143 pages with 45 black & white llustrations . 13 music sheets .

SOLD OUT

Sorry folks . The first edition of 'England's Gem' has sold out . The 'all dancing , all singing' 2nd edition will be published in 2012 . Watch this space .

email; richard@bonehill3.freeserve.co.uk

Telephone ; 01736 793213.
Mobile : 0781 1919083.
email; richard@bonehill3.freeserve.co.uk
website; www.zyworld.com/bonehill



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