Lillah McCarthy in 'Twelfth Night'

© estate of Malcolm Arbuthnot

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Lillah McCarthy in 'Twelfth Night'

by Malcolm Arbuthnot
sepia platinum print, November 1912
8 in. x 5 7/8 in. (203 mm x 150 mm)
Purchased, 2004
Photographs Collection
NPG x128114

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McCarthy appears confident and assured as the cross-dressing heroine Viola in Twelfth Night, McCarthy was at the peak of her acting abilities. Desmond MacCarthy in the New Statesman, 4 January 1913 wrote; ' Miss Lillah McCarthy's performance is one of the best, if not the very best pieces of acting she has done. Her gestures and carriage have added for the future a new vibrating note to the very mention of the name Viola...' In the Shakespeare seasons at the Savoy McCarthy also played Hermione in The Winter's Tale and Helena in A Midsummer Night's Dream.

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Current affairs

The Royal Flying Corps is established. During the Great War, planes and balloons were used mainly for reconnaissance and observation before technological advances made them fast enough and manoeuvrable enough to attack enemy positions and fight in the air. Arthur (Bomber) Harris won distinction as a pilot destroying five enemy aircraft in the war. In the Second World War he became Marshal of the Royal Air Force.

Art and science

George Bernard Shaw writes Pygmalion.
Charles Babbage's invents the Analytic Machine. Considered to be the forerunner to the modern computer, the machine was able to make automatic mathematical calculations.


Scott leads the British Expedition to the South Pole reaching it in January 1912 only to discover that the rival Norwegian party had beaten them by a month. All members of Scott's team perished on the return journey. Captain Oates' famous last words were immortalised in Scott's diary: 'I am just going outside and may be some time.'
The 'unsinkable' Titanic strikes an iceberg and goes down on its maiden journey between Southampton and New York.

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