One hundred years ago in January 1912 KG Sowerby burst on to the West End scene with a production of the gritty Tyneside drama Rutherford & Son. Critics hailed it as the best play to have been performed in London for a decade and compared the writing to that of Ibsen. Why then did KG Sowerby, soon afterwards revealed as female dramatist and children’s author Githa Sowerby, fade into obscurity?
After this spectacular success, Githa’s plays were ignored for most of the 20th century. Happily in recent years her work has been staged on both sides of the Atlantic. Directors have included such theatrical luminaries as Sir Richard Eyre, Katie Mitchell, Richard Beecham and Jackie Maxwell, all of whom became determined that the plays of this pioneer woman should be recognised and honoured as of international importance.
Patricia Riley’s research brings to life the drama of Githa’s own story as the granddaughter of a powerful Tyneside glass manufacturer. Remarkably, in addition to the talented playwright Githa Sowerby, this family produced children’s author and landscape painter John George Sowerby, Antarctic explorer Murray Levick, award-winning sculptress Ruby Levick, children’s book illustrator Millicent Sowerby, and Pulitzer Prize winning composer Leo Sowerby.
This book is the go to source for any director staging a Githa Sowerby play and for historians interested in early 20th Century theatre. It is also a social, industrial and family history reference particularly for the North East and Tyneside for the late 19th and early 20th century.