From Victorian Accomplishment to Modern Profession: Elocution Takes Judith Anderson, Sylvia Bremer and Dorothy Cumming to Hollywood, 1912-1918


  • Desley Deacon


elocution, Judith Anderson, Sylvia Bremer, Dorothy Cumming


During the second half of the nineteenth century and the early twentieth century, elocution was part of the education of almost every Australian girl. This article traces how, from the 1880s, elocution performances became public and competitive, effectively providing training, discipline, self-confidence, and legitimation for middle-class Australian girls to aspire to independence and worldly success. It demonstrates how recruitment for the stage moved from family dynasties to elocution schools that funneled their best, mostly middle-class girls, into the leading theatre companies, and, for some of these girls, such as Francee [Judith] Anderson, Sylvia Bremer and Dorothy Cumming, to Hollywood.