14 July 19433

Anne Ziegler, the widow and singing partner of Webster Booth, died in Llandudno, North Wales, on 13 October 2003, at the age of ninety-three. Her death brought an end to an era of British entertainment before and after the Second World War. Her death brought an end to an era for me also.

I was seventeen when I first met Anne Ziegler and Webster Booth at the end of 1960. They were in the same age group as my parents, their top-flight stage career in Britain behind them. Anne and Webster made a great and lasting impression on me, first as teachers and mentors, and then as life-long friends.

During the five years I studied singing with them, I kept detailed diaries, and although several of these diaries were destroyed, I immediately wrote a full account of the “lost years” in an attempt to replace these memories while they were still fresh in my mind. I have a complete collection of all their letters to me, covering a forty year period.

I was too young to have seen them at the height of their fame, but even before I met them, I knew at once that they were a shining couple, their gifts and personalities setting them apart from humdrum lesser mortals. More than fifty years later I hold the same opinion of them.

The late Mrs Freda Davies of Port Elizabeth passed on her correspondence with them to me. For some years Mrs Davies lived on the top floor of their home in Knysna with her father, Mr Fred Cropper, and they became close friends of Anne and Webster. I

Although I have a great collection of photographs it was almost impossible to find out who the photographers were, or from whom copyright clearance should be obtained. Most of the photographers in the early photographs were dead; the press agencies and photographic studios no longer existed. Sally Rayner, the executrix of Anne’s estate, gave me permission to use suitable photographs in my book and elsewhere on the internet.  If I have breached any copyright I apologise.

It will take me quite some time to add all the posts I have made about Webster and Anne to this site. I hope you will bear with me for a while!

Jean Collen

15 March 2017.

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