Summer Season – Phyllis Norman Parker

I admit, things didn’t get off to a brilliant start when I misread the surname as being Packer not Parker, however once that got rectified, then it was all systems go!

Since I have owned this postcard, I have had a fondness for Phyllis.  I see in her a resignation, a “what am I doing here?” type of air; to me, it looks as if she is fed up with having her photo taken yet knows it is a necessary part of the job.

Phyllis was born on the 31st May 1889 in Hampshire to Willliam Hubert and Elizabeth Adelaide Parker (nee Henderson).  According to the 1891 census, the family – consisting of William and Elizabeth, their three children (Hubert, Oriana and Phyllis), Elizabeth’s mother (also called Elizabeth) and their two servants – were living at here at 246 Barry Road, Camberwell. William was working as a sub-editor.  Other records identify him as being a journalist.  Two years later, William’s death from consumption was recorded in the Hants and Berks Gazette and Middlesex and Sussex Journal (23 December 1893).  Mentioned in the death notice is that he had died at Holt Lodge, Hook.

On the 1901 census Phyllis is living with her mother, sister, grandmother, governess and two servants at Penrheol, Hook Common.  Not too long after this, mentions are made in newspapers suggesting Phyllis’ musical talents – in the 1909 Phyllis is awarded the Hill and Son’s prize for violin following Royal Academy of Music examinations.

The following year, a notice went into the Hants and Berks Gazette and Middlesex and Sussex Journal (15th October 1910) declaiming that:

“The friends of Miss Phyllis Norman Parker later of Penrheol, Hook will be pleased to know she has been appointed a sub-professor for violin at the Royal Academy of Music and that she was awarded the Dove prize (a purse of 10 guineas) at the recent distribution of prizes, given to the student who shall have most distinguished himself or herself in general excellence, assiduity and industry during the past year.  She has also won the medal of the Royal Society of Arts for violin.”

By the time of the 1911 census, Phyllis’ career was determined. The family were resident at 18 Goldsmith Avenue, Acton, and Phyllis gave her profession as “Professional Violinst”.  In the ensuing years, it is very easy to track Phyllis’ growing professional reputation as a violinst, accompanist and composer. At some point between 1936 and 1939, Phyllis married James W S Gilbert in Paris.  James Gilbert was the real name of David Shenstone, theatrical manager and baritone.  Phyllis Agnes Norman Gilbert died in June 1972 in Buckinghamshire, with her husband dying in June 1983.

Edited 9th April 2021 – thank you so much to David who very kindly sent me an image of Phyllis’ signature that he came across in an autograph book. I really love that she included a couple of bars of notes too.

7 thoughts on “Summer Season – Phyllis Norman Parker

  1. How intriguing!

    James William Shenstone Gilbert was a second cousin, twice removed. Obscure I know but I have pictures of my great grandmother’s sisters so I have researched them all


  2. hi, how interesting, i have just bought at auction an autograph book and she has signed a page with musical notes and her name Phyllis Norman Parker


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