This is the diary of Henrietta St. Felix (born 1864) of the Victorian music act “The St. Felix Sisters”. The act originally consisted of four sisters: Henrietta, Clementina, Charlotte, and Leonora. Leonora passed away in 1880.
The sisters’ act consisted of original song and dance sketches that were described as “refined and elegant”. Their costumes were noted for their “richness of fabric and elegance of design”.
The Felix Sisters went on annual tours of the United States and Canada. This diary covers the entirety of their European tour from 1887-1889.
This is a fascinating window on Europe from the perspective of an American woman over 125 years ago. She sees several world leaders, performs all over England and the continent, and visits and describes the main tourist attractions in every city she visits.
Here is the tour itinerary, reconstructed from the diary:
London, England 5/87 – 12/87
Berlin, Germany 12/87 – 2/88
Antwerp, Belgium 2/88 – 3/88
Rotterdam, Holland 3/88
Amsterdam, Holland 4/88
Paris, France 5/88
London, England 6/88 – 7/88 (six weeks rest, no performing)
Various, Holland 7/88-8/88
Hanover, Germany 9/88
Dresden, Germany 10/88
Prague, Bohemia (Austria-Hungary) 11/88
Vienna, Austria (Austria-Hungary) 12/88
Budapest, Hungary (Austria-Hungary) 1/89-2/89
London/Liverpool/Birmingham/Chatham, England 2/89 – 6/89
Henrietta wasn’t afraid to share her opinion on the locals and their towns.
Here are a couple comments she wrote:
About Antwerp, Belgium:
“This is a peculiar looking city and the language spoken is generally French, although the natives are Belgian and the poorer class all speak their native language which is very strange. It seems a mixture of French, English, & Dutch.”
About Rotterdam, Netherlands:
“The streets are very crooked and there seems to be nothing but canals and bridges all over the city. It is very Dutch in their way of living and the language is very ugly and the people dress so very strange and old-fashioned. Some of the women wear a large piece of thin white-muslin, fastened at each side of the face, right by the ear, with a brass ornament that looks like a pair of candlesticks. The other end of the muslin hangs down the back like a veil.”
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Preview of The Diary of Hen
This preview of The Diary of Hen: A Victorian Singer’s 1887 European Tour contains the first half of the diary entries from the initial London, England portion of the tour.
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