I have compiled the following information from newspapers, personal recollections and programmes. The list is far from complete. Please contact me if you can fill in the gaps.
6 November 1955 – Quick Work. Anne Ziegler and Webster Booth, with their accompanist, Arthur Tatler, fly to South Africa on November 6 to fulfill a concert tour in South Africa, Southern and Northern Rhodesia and Kenya. This will indeed be a flying visit for they will fly everywhere in order to fulfill so many engagements in so short a time, as they return to England on December 11, when Webster Booth is due to broadcast for the BBC on December 14, after which he leaves the following day for Huddersfield to sing in the Messiah.
Anne Ziegler and Webster Booth sang to fellow passengers while flying to South Africa. Their duet was We’ll Gather Lilacs, sung at 18,000 feet as they crossed the Zambezi.
ANNE ZIEGLER AND WEBSTER BOOTH, 8 November 1955
Webster and Anne arrived at Jan Smuts airport on 8 November. They had been booked to appear in concerts with the Cape Town Symphony Orchestra in Cape Town, Port Elizabeth and East London, also in Durban and Salisbury, Rhodesia. Webster gave a rather bitter interview about the changing times in music with the growth of music that appealed more to teenagers and the rise of television.
ANNE ZIEGLER AND WEBSTER BOOTH, 23 November 1955, City Hall, East London. Recital presented by East London Association of the Arts.
After their concert tour they returned to the UK where Webster had several Messiah engagements to fulfil. Despite his bitter comments on his arrival in Johannesburg, 1955 had been a very busy year for the Booths.
ANNE ZIEGLER AND WEBSTER BOOTH, with Arthur Tatler (piano), City Hall, Johannesburg Tuesday, 31 January 16th and 21 February 1956
City Hall, Benoni, Saturday, (opening Benoni’s Golden Jubilee celebrations) 4th February 1956
City Hall, Pretoria, Wednesday, 8 February 1956
B tour to Bethal, Bloemfontein, Parys (concert on an island on the Vaal River), Kimberley, Port Elizabeth, East London, Durban and Pietermaritzburg.
10 May 1957, Hobbies Exhibition, East London. The Round Table has engaged Anne Ziegler and Webster Booth to sing (Rand Daily Mail)
THE NIGHT OF A THOUSAND STARS 29 May 1957, Johannesburg. Anne and Webster sang at this concert produced by Cedric Messina and Monte Doyle in aid of the Jimmy Elliott Appeal.
STARLIGHT 13 to 16 November 1957, Prosperity Park, Zoo Lake. All funds in aid of the United Party, Anne, Webster, Maria Pavlou, Eva Tamassy, Gordon Mulholland, Jack Kruger, Charles Castle.
VARIETY UNDER THE STARS 7 March 1958, Joubert Park Open Air Theatre, Anne and Webster and a host of other performers.
VARIETY PROGRAMME June 1958, Kangalani, home of Eva Harvey (by invitation only!) Anne and Webster, Sini van der Brom, Francois Bouguenon, Eva Harvey.
GRAND VARIETY SHOW, 27, 28 May 1960, Methodist Church Hall, Roberts Avenue, Kensington, Anne and Webster and other artistes. I (aged 16) attended this show and got their autographs at the interval.
CHRISTMAS CAPERS December 1, 2, 3 1960, Civic Theatre, Bloemfontein, Anne and Webster and local artistes presented by Rotary Club.
CONCERT 30 April 1961, Anne and Webster sang at the Wanderers Club, Johannesburg.
OVER 6OS OLD FOLKS VARIETY SHOW 2 May 1961, City Hall, Durban, Anne and Webster, with Cyril Sugden, Graham Rich.
5 July 1961. Festival Concert, Allen Wilson Beit Hall, Salisbury. Anne and Webster appeared after Webster had adjudicated at Vocal Festival for the Rhodesia Institute of Allied Arts.
SATURDAY NIGHT VARIETY SHOW 1961, Amphitheatre, North Beach, Durban, Anne and Webster and top line variety stars.
GALA BENEFIT SHOW February 1962, Ciros Club, Johannesburg, Anne and Webster appeared in benefit show for the actor, David Beattie, who was suffering from cancer.
CONCERT Mid August 1963, Ficksburg, Anne and Webster, accompanied by Desmond Wright. Webster said that he would have taken me as the accompanist but he didn’t like two women on the stage as it would draw the audience’s attention away from Anne.
1964 Concert tour with SABC Orchestra. Anne and Webster were soloists on this tour.
1965 Concert tour with SABC Orchestra. Anne and Webster were soloists on this tour.
POPULAR CONCERT, 2 October 1966, Johannesburg’s eightieth birthday concert at the City Hall.
GRAND VARIETY CONCERT 15 September 1967, 8.15 pm
POPULAR CONCERTS, December 1967/1968
THE ANNE ZIEGLER AND WEBSTER BOOTH SHOW 26, 27, 28 August 1972, Durban Jewish Club, Anne and Webster accompanied by Jack Dowle, with top supporting artistes.
FAREWELL CONCERT, late 1975, Somerset West
Anne and Webster had planned to retire from the stage at the end of 1975, but when they returned to England in early 1978 they were in great demand so came out of retirement until Webster’s health broke down in 1983.
I have included musicals, operas and plays in which Anne and Webster appeared in South Africa, as well as amateur shows in which they appeared or which were directed by them – either separately or together.
I have included musicals, operas and plays in which Anne and Webster appeared, as well as amateur shows directed by them – either together or separately. The list is not complete so I would be glad to hear from anyone who can add to it or enlarge on the information presented below.
SPRING QUARTET September 1956, Cape Town. Anne and Webster. Before Anne and Webster went to Johannesburg to settle, they played in Spring Quartet, straight after their trip to Cape Town on the Pretoria Castle. Leonard Schach directed the play for the Cockpit Players, at the Hofmeyr Theatre. Others in the cast were Joyce Bradley, Cynthia Coller, Jane Fenn, Gavin Houghton and Sydney Welch. Decor by David Crichton, costumes by Doreen Graves. At the piano were Keith Jewell and Geoffrey Miller.
NIGHT IN VENICE Wednesday 14 November to Saturday 1 December 1956, Reps Theatre, Braamfontein, Johannesburg, Johannesburg Operatic Society, Anne Ziegler, Webster Booth, June Hern, Tom Reid, Harold Lake, Stella Beder, Director: Arnold Dover, Music: Drummond Bell.
ANGELS IN LOVE 29 July 1957, Reps Theatre, Anne played the part of Dearest, with Rory McDermot, Joan Blake, Michael Turner, Arthur Hall, and Edwin Quail (Fauntleroy), directed by Minna Schneier.
WALTZ TIME 31 May 1958, Springs Civic Theatre, Anne and Webster, produced by Bert Dobson for Springs Operatic Society.
MERRIE ENGLAND 16 to 21 June 1958, City Hall, East London, The Dramatic Society of East London. Anne and Webster, Mabel Fenney, Pamela Emslie, Hilary Adams, Cawood Meaker, Jimmy Nicholas, produced by Doreen Egan, conducted by Jean Fowler.
THE VAGABOND KING 1 August 1958, Durban. Anne and Webster starred in the show. Produced by Isobel McLaren (wife of singing teacher Arnold Fulton.
MERRIE ENGLAND 12 to 29 November 1958, Reps Theatre, Johannesburg, JODS. Anne and Webster starred and produced and starred in the show, with Marian Saunders, June Bass, Nohline Mitchell, Kenneth Anderson, Len Rosen, and Dudley Cock, conducted by Drummond Bell.
JACK AND THE BEANSTALK Christmas 1958, City Hall, East London, Anne appeared as principal boy. Anne told me that she had also appeared in DICK WHITTINGTON in East London.
WALTZ TIME 1959, City Hall, East London, The Dramatic Society of East London, Anne and Webster and East London cast.
THE GLASS SLIPPER December 1959, Reps Theatre, Johannesburg Repertory Players, National Theatre and Childrens Theatre, Anne Ziegler, Yvonne Theron, Siegfried Mynhardt, David Beattie, Hilda Kriseman, Olive King, Bruce Anderson, directed by Hugh Goldie. Music: Joyce Goldie (Piano conductor) Band: Leader Walter Mony, Bassoon: Richard Cherry, Clarinet: P Reinders, Percussion: A Johnson, Violin: Erica Anderson, Viola: Lance Lange, Cello: Phyllis Chaplin
MIKADO 1960, Bloemfontein, Webster. I know very little about this show. I am not sure whether Webster sang in it, directed it or did both.
A COUNTRY GIRL October 1960, Produced by Anne and Webster at Little Theatre, Springs. Leads were played by Corinne van Wyk and John Wilcox.
LOCK UP YOUR DAUGHTERS 19 December 1960 to January 1961, Playhouse, Johannesburg, Anne, Valerie Miller, Leon Eagles, John Boulter, Robert Haber and Ivor Berold, directed by Leonard Schach.
THE AMOROUS PRAWN September to October 30 1961, Alexander Theatre (previously the Reps Theatre), National Theatre, Pretoria, 31 October to November 12, Alhambra Theatre, Durban, November 15?
Webster was the Prawn, with Simon Swindell, Gabriel Bayman, Diane Wilson, Joe Stewardson, Ronald Wallace and Joan Blake, directed by Victor Melleney.
THE DESERT SONG October to November 1961 at Springs Theatre, Anne directed this show for the Springs Operatic Society. Sylvia Watson (nee Reilly), who kindly wrote to me to tell me more about these shows was in the chorus.
THE ANDERSONVILLE TRIAL February 1962, Alexander Theatre, Webster took a small non-singing part with Simon Swindell, Michael McGovern, Gordon Mulholland, Joe Stewardson, directed by Albert Ninio. My piano teacher, Sylvia Sullivan, saw the play and remarked about Websters role, “Such a small part for such a great man.”
THE VAGABOND KING October 1962, Springs Little Theatre Anne and Webster directed this production for the Springs Operatic Society.
THE PIRATES OF PENZANCE October 1962, Bloemfontein. Webster directed this production. As a gimmick he had a chimpanzee going on to the stage with the pirates. The chimpanzee idea was not without problems. She disgraced himself during Websters opening night speech. With a quick wit he quipped, You naughty girl. I wont take you out again in a hurry.
THE MERRY WIDOW November 1962, Springs Little Theatre. Anne directed this production for the Springs Operatic Society.
GOODNIGHT MRS PUFFIN January 1963, Alexander Theatre, Anne and Webster with Jane Fenn, George Moore, Deborah Francis, Leonne Carnot, Clive Pownall, Paddy Canavan, Anthony James and Michael Newell, directed by John Hayter.
THE NEW MOON, 10 April 1964, Springs Little Theatre, Anne directed this production for the Springs Operatic Society.
THE YEOMEN OF THE GUARD May 1963, Alexander Theatre, JODS, Webster took the part of Colonel Fairfax at short notice with Denise Allen, June Hern, Lilian Gartside, Len Rosen, Lyle Matthews, Ethlynne Cohen and Peter Lynsky, directed by Keith Stammers-Bloxham, conducted by Desmond Wright.
TONIGHT AT 8.30 8 July 1964, Hofmeyr Theatre, Cape Town, Port Elizabeth, CAPE PERFORMING ARTS COUNCIL (CAPAB) Anne and Webster appeared in Family Album with Yvonne Bryceland, Michael Drin, Nanette Rennie and Flora McKenna, directed by Margaret Inglis, conducted by Keith Jewell.
THE MERRY WIDOW October 1965, Bloemfontein. Anne directed this production in Bloemfontein.
THE LOVE POTION November 1966, Intimate Theatre, Johannesburg, PERFORMING ARTS COUNCIL OF THE TRANSVAAL (PACT), Anne, with Alec Bell, Fiona Fraser and Arthur Hall, directed by Ricky Arden. This show was not a success and came off early.
THE BARTERED BRIDE November (Pretoria) 14, 17, 20, 22 December 1966, (Johannesburg), Aula Theatre, Pretoria, Civic Theatre, Johannesburg, PERFORMING ARTS COUNCIL OF THE TRANSVAAL (PACT), Webster played non-singing role of Circus Master, with Gé Korsten, Nellie du Toit, Gert Potgieter and Oysten Liltveld, directed by Victor Melleney, conducted by Leo Quayle
COUNTESS MARITZA 1967, Pretoria. Anne and Webster either directed or appeared in this production or perhaps they did both.
MERRIE ENGLAND 11 July 1968, Knysna and District Choral Society, Webster, Anne, Dorothy Davies, James Squier and Ena van der Vijver
CINDERELLA December 1968, Knysna. Anne played principal boy and wrote the script. Del le Roux, Ena van der Vijver, Dorothy Davies and Sadie Hamilton Cox were also in the cast.
PANTOMIME December 1969, Knysna, Anne played principal boy and wrote the script but I do not know the name of the pantomime.
COX AND BOX/TRIAL BY JURY ( Date?), Knysna, George, Oudtshoorn and Ladismith (Cape)
LADY AUDLEYS SECRET December 1971, Port Elizabeth Opera House, Port Elizabeth Musical and Dramatic Society. Anne produced this show.
DICK WHITTINGTON December 1972, Port Elizabeth Opera House, PEMADS. Webster produced and conducted for this pantomime, while Anne played Principal Boy.
THE MIKADO 4 to 14 April 1973, Guild Theatre, East London, The East London Light Operatic Society, Pam Emslie, Colin Carney, Bernie Lee, Leigh Evans, Irene McCarthy, Jim Hagerty and Jimmy Nicholas. Webster produced this show.
Anne and Webster settled in South Africa in mid-July 1956. I compiled the following lis of radio programmes from newspapers, magazines and personal diaries. Contact me if you can add more information to this list.
Anne and Webster settled in South Africa in mid-July 1956. I compiled the following lis of radio programmes from newspapers, magazines and personal diaries. Contact me if you can add more information to this list.
MOBILGAS MELODY WORLD 16 February 1956/57? Springbok Radio,
Anne Ziegler and Webster Booth in a programme compèred by Michael Drinn.
LIGHT UP AND LAUGH – ITMA, December 1956
Thirteen-week series on Springbok Radio, recorded at the Brooke Theatre. Webster (rather incongruously!) took Tommy Handley’s part in South African presentation of ITMA scripts.
ELDORADO, (Ralph Trewhela) 1957
Anne and Webster took the leading roles in this musical, directed by Frank Douglass, SABC Theatre Orchestra, conducted by Jeremy Schulman. Work commissioned by SABC for 21st anniversary programme.
AT HOME WITH ANNE, commenced on 21 January 1958. Anne presented this series on Springbok Radio. The programme was still running in July 1959.
DO YOU REMEMBER? 1959 to 24 April 1960, Anne and Webster presented weekly music programme on Springbok Radio on Sunday afternoon. They spoke about their illustrious careers and the people with whom they had worked.
CONCERT HOUR 1960 – English service of the SABC. SABC Concert Orchestra, Rita Roberts, Webster Booth, Asaf and Philharmonic Choirs, conducted by Anton Hartman.
DOUGLAS LAWS Record show, 4 October 1960. Anne and Webster appeared as guest artistes.
MESSIAH 8 December 1960 Webster sang tenor solos in the Port Elizabeth Oratorio Festival, conducted by Robert Selley.
TEST YOURSELF 1960. Anne and Webster presented this quiz show together on Springbok Radio.
OPERA, ORATORIO AND OPERETTA (ON WINGS OF SONG) Wednesdays at
8.30 pm, later Thursday, 9.20 pm, 1961
Webster presented a weekly programme of recordings (including some of their own) on the English Service.
DREAM OF GERONTIUS, MESSIAH, 27 November 1961. Port Elizabeth Oratorio Festival broadcast Monday and Wednesday at 8pm. Webster, with Emelie Hooke, Joyce Scotcher, Harold Hart, Port Elizabeth Orchestra, directed by Robert Selley.
GILBERT AND SULLIVAN 1962, 1963. When the copyright on Gilbert’s words ended, Webster presented a weekly programme on the Gilbert and Sullivan operettas on the English Service. During his illness in 1962, Paddy O’Byrne read the scripts of this programme.
DRAWING ROOM, April 1962
Webster presented a short series of drawing room concerts before a studio audience on the English Service. He and Anne sang in this series, and a number of guest artistes took part. He also sang duets with the bass, Graham Burns. The guest artistes were Doris Brasch, Rita Roberts, Gert Potgieter, Gé Korsten, Graham Burns, Jean Gluckman, Kathleen Allister and Walter Mony The accompanist was Anna Bender.
MUSIC FOR ROMANCE, August 1962. Anne presented a series of programmes in which she presented recordings and reminisced about her life and career in England.
PORT ELIZABETH ORATORIO FESTIVAL, November 1962
Elijah and Messiah from Port Elizabeth.
Webster, Monica Hunter, Joyce Scotcher, and Graham Burns, conducted by Robert Selley. The complete oratorios were broadcast locally in the Eastern Cape. Excerpts were broadcast nationally later, but strangely none of Webster’s recordings were used in the national broadcast.
SUNDAY AT HOME, January 1963. English Service. Paddy O’Byrne conducted a fifteen minute interview with Anne and Webster at their home in Craighall Park.
GREAT VOICES, January 1963-1964. Webster presented this series on the English Service. He was criticised by the critic Jon Sylvester of The Star for including some of his own recordings, yet most people expected to hear Webster Booth the singer as well as Webster Booth, lately-turned broadcaster.
RECITAL WITH ORCHESTRA 8 April 1963. Anne and Webster sang a programme of duets, with orchestra conducted by Edgar Cree, on the English service.
BALLADS OLD AND NEW, July 1963. Webster presented this short series on the English Service towards the end of 1963.
CHILDREN’S PROGRAMME 1963/64 Anne and Webster presented a series of children’s programmes, directed by Kathleen Davydd.
SATURDAY NIGHT AT THE PALACE, November 1963. A short series, which attempted to recreate the atmosphere of the Music Hall on the English Service. Anne and Webster were guest artistes on this programme.
Webster, Anne, Jeanette James and Bruce Anderson sing a quartet in the programme
OPERA AND OPERETTA, July 1964, Monday, 7.35 pm Webster returned to the English Service with this series.
IF THE SHOE FITS, Christmas 1964. Webster and Anne starred in this Christmas pantomime on the English Service.
TEN OCLOCK AND ALL’S WELL, September 1966. Webster was guest presenter for a week in this short series on the English Service.
2 October 1966, CITY HALL, JOHANNESBURG. ORCHESTRAL CONCERT (FOR JOHANNESBURG EIGHTIETH BIRTHDAY)
Anne and Webster were soloists, with the SABC Symphony Orchestra conducted by Edgar Cree. Webster told Edgar Cree that he was not pleased with his voice and thought it was time for him to stop singing.
O lovely night (Anne and Webster)
Drink to me only with thine eyes (Anne)
Lehar medley (Anne and Webster)
The Holy City (Webster)
Love’s old sweet song (Anne and Webster)
We’ll gather lilacs (Anne and Webster)
Selection from Bitter Sweet (Anne and Webster)
MELODY MARKET, May 1967. Webster presented this programme in the early morning on the English Service. “A sort of housewife’s choice,” was how he described it in a letter to me. It was the last programme for the SABC before leaving Johannesburg for Knysna a month or so later.
SOUTH AFRICA A TOUCH OF THE BRITISH, 29 May 1973. BBC TV. Documentary. Anne and Webster appeared in this BBC TV documentary. Anne said that she had had enough of South Africa and wanted to go home to die. The programme ended with Anne and Webster singing We’ll gather lilacs.
PETER BROOMFIELD’S OPEN HOUSE, 20 March 1975. English Service. Anne and Webster were guests of Peter Broomfield on his morning programme, broadcast from Cape Town, on the English Service. Anne’s friend, Babs Wilson-Hill (Marie Thompson) who was on a visit from the UK, and Anne and Webster’s singing dog, Silva were also present in the studio. Silva sang along to a Harry Lauder record!
A MUSICIAN REMEMBERS, 19 and 26 October 1975. English Service. Webster reminisced about his career in the theatre.
A MUSICIAN REMEMBERS, 2 and 9 November 1975. English Service. Anne reminisced about her career in the theatre.
WOMENS’ WORLD, English Service, 1975 – Pamela Deal, who had conducted the first interview with Anne and Webster when they stopped off briefly on their way to Australia in 1948, interviewed them again when they decided to stop singing in public. They had given a farewell concert in Somerset West towards the end of 1975. This decision was rescinded when they moved back to the UK in early 1978 and found that people remembered them and wanted to see and hear them once again.
RADIO TODAY 1485 When Anne and Webster left South Africa their voices were rarely heard on South African radio. Ronald Charles, the broadcaster and musician who had been the musical director at Michaelhouse in the sixties, played several of Webster’s oratorio recordings from his personal collection on his classical request programme. As far as I know most of the 78s in the SABC record library were discarded, but as time passed, a number of their recordings were released on CD. Occasionally a recording was played on Uit Vergange se Dae on Radio Pretoria.
Paddy O’Byrne was always happy to play a recording when he was with the SABC and later at Radio Today, although his access to their recordings was extremely limited. Clare Marshall, on her Sunday morning programme, Morning Star on Radio Today 1485, is about the only broadcaster in South Africa to feature their recordings regularly. Sadly, Radio Today does not feature her excellent programme Morning Star any more.
I do not think I could consider including the records any longer as they are far too heavy to be shipped anywhere. Most of them have been digitised by Mike Taylor of The Webster Booth-Anne Ziegler Appreciation Group on Facebook, but surely photos, letters from Anne and Webster, cuttings, my diaries and books I have written should be of interest to someone?
I have collected records, cuttings, photos and letters in connection with Webster Booth and Anne Ziegler since I first met them nearly sixty years ago. Originally, I hoped to be able to pass my collection on to a British theatrical museum but then I realised that it would be extremely expensive to ship it to the UK from South Africa. Later, I was told about the National English Literary Museum in Grahamstown, now known as Makhanda, (NELMS). I wrote to Mr Malcolm Hacksley who was in charge of NELMS at that time, and received an enthusiastic reply to my letter:
From: Jean Collen Sent: 05 April 2009 10:06 PM To: email@example.com Subject: Anne Ziegler-Webster Booth collection
Dear Mr Hacksley,
Johan Geldenhuys suggested that I should contact you in connection with my collection of letters, photographs, records (78s, LPs, CDs, tapes), press cuttings and programmes connected with the British duettists, Anne Ziegler and Webster Booth.
After I left school at the end of 1960 I studied singing with them at their studio in Johannesburg, was Webster’s studio accompanist for several years and remained friends with them until Webster’s death in 1984 and Anne’s in 2003. During that time I accumulated a considerable collection of memorabilia related to them, including about 250 letters. I published a book called “Sweethearts of Song: a Personal Memoir of Anne Ziegler and Webster Booth” on https://www.lulu.com/duettists in 2006. They had written their autobiography, “Duet” before they left the UK in 1951. My book concentrates mainly on the 22 years they spent in South Africa, and after they returned to the UK in 1978. Since that time I have written other books about the couple. You can see more information about them at the links below.
I contacted the Theatre Museum in London about donating this collection there after my death, and the curator expressed interest in it, but it would cost a great deal to have it sent to the UK, and since they spent 22 years here, Johan suggested that HELMS might be interested in having it after my death. While I know you are concerned with English literature in South Africa, I have noticed in your magazine that you have accepted various other theatrical archives, so I wonder whether you would be interested in this one after my death?
Johan is absolutely right – we most definitely WOULD want your collection of the Ziegler-Booth memorabilia! I remember their radio broadcasts with great pleasure. (We must be of much the same vintage: I left school at the end of 1961.) We have an immense amount of SA theatre material – mainly unpublished playscripts, programmes, press-cuttings, etc stretching way, way back. Yours would be a very welcome addition.
I am rather glad you have had second thoughts about the theatre museum in London. It seems to have fallen on very hard times – I’m told they had to vacate their Covent Garden premises because they had lost their national grant. And this was before the world-wide economic crisis, so the chances of a realistic rescue package for them are remote in the extreme. One doesn’t wish to rejoice in another’s misfortune, but we would be very glad to be able to keep your collection in SA. We accepted Moira Lister’s whole personal archive just weeks before she died.
If you should decide to part with it before the Grim Reaper comes calling, please do let us know and we will fetch it from you. Whatever you do, please do NOT consider entrusting it to the tender or other mercies of the postal services OR to the courier companies. Bitter experience has taught us that we have to retrieve precious materials in person. (An instance: a set of documents sent to us from Cape Town last month by “overnight courier” took SEVENTEEN days to reach us – despite being perfectly correctly addressed…)
With warm regards
Mr Hacksley retired from his position not long after this correspondence took place. I heard recently that the museum had changed its name so I decided to contact them to see whether they were still interested in my collection.
I received the following email a few days ago. I will not mention the name of the writer but I would be interested to know what you think I should do with my collection now.
Received on 27 November 2019
Dear Mrs Collen
Thank you for contacting Amazwi about your collection. My apologies for the delay in responding. I took it to the selection committee meeting and then had to attend meetings in Pretoria before I could reply.
I was asked to request a bit more information about Anne Ziegler and Webster Booth. From your email it seems that they were primarily musicians. Is this correct?
Amazwi is a museum of literature. We do collect material relating to theatre and plays, but not really music or dance. The focus is on productions of plays with South African scripts, and material relating to the playwrights.
As you have noted, this year the museum’s name was changed from the National English Literary Museum to Amazwi South African Museum of Literature. This will enable us to collect material in other South African languages as well as English. The collection policies remain the same, just broadened in terms of language. Our concerns about your collection, important as it is, have to do with the museum’s focus on literature as opposed to music.
If your collection is more theatre based, then please do let me know.
From the tone of the email, I do not think that this is a suitable place for my collection any more. I am far nearer to meeting the Grim Reaper today than I was when I first wrote to Mr Hacksley ten years ago. If anyone can suggest what I should do with my collection now I would be interested to hear from you. I do not think I could consider including the records any longer as they are far too heavy to be shipped anywhere. Most of them have been digitised by Mike Taylor of The Webster Booth-Anne Ziegler Appreciation Group on Facebook, but surely photos, letters from Anne and Webster, cuttings, my diaries and books I have written should be of interest to someone?
I received two or three comments to this post here and on other places – two had some good suggestions which I will follow up. I replied to the email as follows:
Dear Ms W,
Thank you for your email. It is just as well that I contacted you with regard to my Anne Ziegler-Webster Booth collection for I can see that your view of it is very different to the one so enthusiastically expressed to me ten years ago by Mr Hacksley. Anne Ziegler and Webster Booth were world famous British duettists, active in theatre, film, recording and radio. They came to South Africa in 1956 and remained here for 22 years before returning to the UK. I have consulted with various people and have decided to contact the Victoria and Albert Museum or the British Library in the UK as these might be more suitable places for my collection. Kind regards, Jean Collen (Mrs)
Anne and Webster looked particularly glamorous for the occasion. Anne was wearing a beautiful evening gown, her fair hair in a chignon, while Webster was in full evening dress, to act as compère for the evening and to sing some drawing room ballads into the bargain. The accompanist for the series was Anna Bender, the official accompanist for the SABC. Anne and Webster received their guests graciously. Anne told Ruth and me to save her a seat in the front row, where she sat between us and played her full part in chatting to us between the items on the programme to evoke the atmosphere of a drawing room at the beginning of the twentieth century.
Over forty years later I still remember Miss Rita Roberts (soprano) singing Christina’s Lament to the tune of Dvorak’s Humoresque, Mr Walter Mony (violin), Miss Anna Bender (accompanist) and finally Webster himself, aged sixty, but still in fine voice singing The Kashmiri Song, The Sweetest flower that blows, Parted, O Dry Those Tears and finally Had you but known with violin obbligato by the excellent Mr Mony, a French Canadian, who became a professor and head of the music department at the University of the Witwatersrand.
I published the first edition of this book in 2006 and have recently published the second edition 13 years later. I have included excerpts from my contemporary diaries, and have drawn on the many letters written to me by Anne and Webster over a forty year period. This edition contains more information about my relationship with Anne and Webster and also includes many extra photographs collected over the years. The book is available as a paperback and as a PDF e-book.