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Events

British Pathé clips of George Robey in action
712 Bus in Brighton & Hove carries George Robey's name
Commemorating a Londoner who moved to Hove.
If you know of any events concerning George Robey or his works, please let us know: 
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George Robey & the Music-Hall, published 1990, was Harding's fifth biography set against the backdrop of early 20th century British theatre. 

Reviews of George Robey &  the Music-Hall

'...this brief biography is as good as anything that Dr Harding has written.  It ought to be read along with a re-reading of his books on Chevalier, Tati, Agate, Ivor Novello, Cochran and Gerald du Maurier.  He purveys ghostly flavours and provokes regrets.' Anthony Burgess, The Observer






The book
George Robey (1869-1954), known for half a century as 'The Prime Minister of Mirth', was one of the most dominating figures the music-hall has ever produced.  Yet behind the public image of red-nosed disrespect there lurked a man of rigid Establishment views who gloried in the CBE and the knighthood which his charity work had brought him.  This book places him in the music-hall of his time and re-creates the feverish atmosphere in which he climbed to the top of the bill and stayed there for many years.  We meet the friends who shared star billing with him - Marie Lloyd, Little Tich, Dan Leno, Nellie Wallace, Harry Tate and Billy Bennett - and the impresarios - Oswald Stoll of icy aspect, elegant Edward Moss, the ebullient 'pantomime king' Julian Wylie - who gave their stars the opportunity to shine.  Harding's biography traces, with verve and relish, a career that started in smoke-filled music-halls where chuckers-out loitered in the wings to haul off performers who failed to please the raucous audience.  It shows how Robey acquired his infallible technique and how he learned to project a natural magentism which made him the most famous comedian of his time.    
The man
George Robey, born George Edward Wade, came from a London middle class family, adopting the stage name 'Robey' from a firm of builders.  At the height of his career, his huge black eyebrows, little cane, shabby bowler and seedy clerical costume were notorious throughout the whole of the English-speaking world, as were the catchphrases he threw with reproving disdain at audiences who persisted in detecting unspeakable double meanings in the patter which he delivered with an air of archiepiscopal blandness.  His command of the audience was absolute.  When the music-hall entered on its decline, the versatile Robey shrewdly adapted to the demands of revue, musical comedy, operetta, straight plays and films.  He even made his Shakespearean début as a memorable Falstaff.  In private life, Robey was an informed collector of Oriental art and ceramics, a painter in water colours and a craftsmanlike maker of violins.  He was also a footballer who played professionally, a cricketer and member of Lords, and of such physical endurance that, in his late sixties, he could perform his music-hall act sixteen times a day in non-stop revue.