Later Victorian Portraits Catalogue
Bessie Bellwood (1856-1896), Victorian music hall entertainer
Bellwood’s reckless behaviour frequently landed her in court: for assault (1887, 1889, 1893) and for debts (1890, 1895). She defended herself thus in 1895: ‘Asked whether she was a woman of business, witness said she knew her business on the stage, to sing, and dance, and laugh. She was Catholic, and Irish, and therefore straight.’ 
The theatrical producer and showman Sir Charles Blake Cochran said of her:
I was very young on the one occasion when I saw Bessie Bellwood, and my very clear impression still remains of an electric personality, exuding cheery friendliness as she came on the stage, with, too, the somewhat defiant attitude of someone who says: ‘I’m as good as you, and if you give me any lip you’ll get more than you expect in return!’ Bessie Bellwood had the gift of being on the friendliest and most intimate terms with her audiences, and her ‘backchat’ was a feature of her turn. 
Footnotesback to top
1) Information from Wikipedia (accessed 20 Sept. 2016). Bellwood has no ODNB article and sources disagree on her name, date and place of birth: according to Baker 2005, p.172, she was born Kate Mahoney in Monkstown, Co. Cork in ?1856.
2) Baker 2005, p.172.
3) Weekly Standard and Express (Blackburn), 3 Aug. 1895, p.2.
4) Cochran 1945, pp.43-4.
Referencesback to topBaker 2005
Baker, R.A., British Music Hall: An Illustrated History, Stroud, Glos., 2005.
Baron, W., Sickert: Paintings and Drawings, New Haven and London, 2006.
Bromberg, R., Walter Sickert: Prints. A Catalogue Raisonné, New Haven, 2000.
Busby, R., British Music Hall: An Illustrated Who’s Who from 1850 to the Present Day, London and Salem, NH, 1976.
Cochran, C.B., Showman Looks On, London, 1945.
Disher, M.W., Winkles and Champagne: Comedies and Tragedies of the Music Hall, Bath, 1974.
Emmons, R., The Life and Opinions of Walter Richard Sickert, London, 1941.
Felstead, S.T., Stars Who Made the Halls: A Hundred Years of English Humour, Harmony and Hilarity, London, 1946.
Hall, L.A., Catalogue of Dramatic Portraits in the Theatre Collection of the Harvard College Library, 4 vols, Cambridge, MA, 1930–34.
Mander & Mitchenson 1974
Mander, R., and J. Mitchenson, British Music Hall, rev. ed., London, 1974.
Shaw, G.B., Bernard Shaw on Cinema, ed. B.F. Dukore, Carbondale, IL, 1997.
Sickert, W., The Complete Writings on Art, ed. A.G. Robins, Oxford, 2000.