Dictionary of London Immigrants |||

1871-1930 - Howley Place (Maida Vale)

Comic actress Rosina Filippi was born in Bergamo in 1866. Her mother Paolina Vaneri was an opera singer of French origin. It is not clear where she was raised, but it is thought that she left France for London with her grandmother at the time of the Paris Commune in 1871. They settled at no. 4 Howley Place, Maida Vale. She was known by various names: Rosina Benvenuta Dowson and sometimes Rosina Dowson Filippi (her marriage to Henry Martin Dowson took place in Kensington in 1891). At the time of the 1911 census she resided at no. 4 Portman Mansions, Baker Street. Rosina Filippi performed in the Bernard Shaw plays Major Barbara at the Royal Court Theatre in 1905 and Admirable Bashville, at His Majesty’s Theatre in 1909; she was the first person to adapt Jane Austen novels for the stage. Having trained young actors she published Hints to Speakers and Players in 1911. Two years later, Filippi put forward the idea of an affordable theatre for all: tickets would not cost more than the price of attending the cinema. The idea came from the Teatro Populare in Milan, and it was Filippi’s vision to bring Shakespeare to the masses. The season was poorly attended, although opera proved to be more appealing. Rosina died in 1930.

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