Summer Season – Anita Creighton

Thinking that Anita Creighton was an unusual enough name that I might pick something up using http://www.ancestry.co.uk, that was where I started.  In complete opposite to George Ellis, where I was over run with results, this time there was nothing that seemed to fit.  Once again, I turned to the newspaper archive on FMP (I was very soon to realise that when researching these people, starting at the newspaper archive was the best bet!).  

After sorting the results into ascending order, the first entry helped give me Anita’s backstory: “To all whom it may concern.  Eileen Fitz-Henry in future will be known as Anita Creighton.  Summer Season, Ventnor, I.O.W” (The Stage 1 May 1924).  The next piece of information came from Mr Google – you can’t beat a bit of googling for throwing out surprising bits of information!  A letter was written to The Stage asking for information about Eileen Isabella Masters, who had the stage name of Anita Creighton https://www.thestage.co.uk/opinion/letters/2012/letters-of-the-week-december-13-2012/ which started to fill in a few more gaps.  Flitting back to Ancestry confirmed that there was a marriage between Eileen I Fitzhenry and Frederick J Masters in 1931, proving the chain of evidence.

Eileen Isabella Fitzhenry was born on 22nd August 1902, and christened on 5th October 1902 at St Paul’s Church, Dock Street, Whitechapel.  Her parents were John and Isabella Fitzhenry, and they lived at 4 Royal Albert Buildings. These are located on Cartwright Street, on the Peabody Estate.  On Eileen’s christening record, John was described as a clerk, but it seems that by the time of the 1911 census, the family’s status had improved, with John now being described as an accountant for stock brokers.  The family have moved to Capel Road, Forest Gate to a house which overlooked Wanstead Flats.

Eileen must have had an interest in dance and the theatre from an early age – an article from 1915 talks of a benefit put on in Woodford to aid the Royal Association for the Relief of British Prisoners of War in Germany, where an Eileen Fitz-Henry is noted as one of the students of Madame Kate Frewer’s junior singing class that took part (Chelmsford Chronicle, 12 Nov 1915).  In September 1923, Eileen appeared in Patches at the Arcadian Theatre in Leeds where her dancing was “much liked” (The Stage, 6th Sept 1923).

In 1931 Eileen and Frederick Masters married, with a daughter born shortly afterwards.  The two performed as a duo, known as “The Creightons”.  Their married life was short lived because in June 1934, tragedy struck the young family. Whilst bathing in the River Lune, in Lancaster, Frederick got into difficulties and drowned leaving Eileen as a single mother.  An article from the Lancashire Evening Post talks about the “Widowed Actress’s Plans” (8 June 1934) and indicates that she has a forthcoming week’s work in Blackburn which is perhaps the start of her solo career.  

On the 1939 register, Eileen Masters is shown at 20/2 Leather Lane, Holborn. She gave her profession as Theatrical Artiste (travelling). Also registered at that address was her father, John Fitz-Henry (date of birth 1st March 1875), with his profession given as auditor. An annotation on the 1939 registers suggests that that name change referenced in the letter written to The Stage happened by 1945. As yet, I haven’t found a marriage to account for the name change, but Eileen Isabella Peters died in Southsea in 1995.

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