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Allan Aynesworth 'Tony'

Spy (Sir Leslie Ward) (1851-1922)



Watercolour and bodycolour

19 x 12 ½ inches

Vanity Fair, 20 May 1908, Men of The Day no 1119, 'Tony'

Chris Beetles & Alexander Beetles (eds.) Portraits of Vanity Fair: The Charles Sigety Collection, London: Chris Beetles Ltd, 2023, page 175

'Portraits of Vanity Fair: The Charles Sigety Collection', Chris Beetles Gallery, London, October-November 2023, no 85

Allan Aynesworth was the stage name of the stage and screen actor Edward Abbot-Anderson (1864-1959). In 1895, he played the lead role of Algernon Moncrieff in the world premiere of Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest, performed at the St James’s Theatre, London. His final role was alongside Richard Burton in the 1949 film, The Last Days of Dolwyn.

“Allan Ayneswroth, commonly known to his friends as ‘Tony’ was born in the year of grace 1865 at the Royal Military College Sandhurst. His father, General E. Abbot-Anderson, was attached for many years to this forcing-house for budding officers, and brought up there not only Allan Aynesworth, but his six brothers, who have, for the most part prospered in life beyond what their neighbours regard as seemly; the eldest, for instance, Colonel Abbot-Anderson, being now in command of the Legation Guard at Pekin; while another brother, Dr. Abbot-Anderson, M.V.O., is Physician in Ordinary to H.R.N. the Princess Royal. Allan Aynesworth was educated in France and Germany, but at length managed, like every true son of Ireland, to get his own way, and show himself before the footlights.

He served his stage apprenticeship (a very useful one) in the late Sarah Thorne's Stock Company. His London début was made under Messrs. Hare and Kendal's management at the St. James's Theatre. Since that eventful day - or rather night - he has never looked back. During the past eighteen years he has played at nearly every West-End theatre. Till lately he was associated in the various productions of the Comedy Theatre, and scored a conspicuous success in that brilliant comedy ‘The Truth,’ whilst his performances in the ‘Freedom of Suzanne,’ ‘All-of-a Sudden Peggy,’ ‘Angela,’ and ‘Lady Barbarity’ have all added to his popularity. He is now acting with Mrs. Langtry in ‘A Fearful Joy’ at the Havmarket. His favourite parts are Charles Surface and George D'Alroy, which he played at the Haymarket Theatre.

He is a member of the Beefsteak and Garrick Clubs. He is a keen sportsman, greatly addicted to grouse shooting, and his happiest days have been spent on the moors. In fact, love for the country and enthusiasm for his work are his two great interests in life.

His pet bugbears are bad food, bad parts, and badly cut clothes. He also owns to a dislike for rehearsals. ‘They are improper,’ according to him, just as a celebrated mathematician once spoke of a triangle as amiable.

He inhabits a charming flat in the neighbourhood of Langham Place - a flat full of beautiful things, in which Adam decorations, Chippendale and Sheriton furniture, old Sheffield plate, and chintzes play such an important part that it makes one understand that it is possible to have taste without a woman's influence.

He has one great ambition in life - an impossible one – ‘to be thought a good actor by everyone of his audience.’”

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