Granville-Barker, Harley


Collection date:

Area: London

Harley Granville-Barker (1877-1946): Granville-Barker was an actor, director and playwright, who offered Sharp the opportunity to compose music and dances in a folk idiom to fit into his progressive production of Shakespeare’s ‘Midsummer Night’s Dream’ in 1914. He took the initial production at the Savoy Theatre over to New York (opened Feb 1915) and Sharp went with him. Maud Karpeles trained the dancers in London and Sharp thought it was one of the most creative things he ever did.

Harley Granville Barker (he only hyphenated his last forename and surname after 1906) was born in London on 25/11/1877, only son of Albert J Barker, surveyor, and his wife Mary Elizabeth, a ‘theatrical reciter’. Albert was from Herefordshire, son of the chaplain of the county gaol; Mary Elizabeth Bozzi-Granville was the daughter of the curate of Hatcham (Deptford, London).

In the 1881 census Harley and parents were living in Kensington (Mary was listed as a ‘professor of dancing’) and in 1891 they were in Edgware Rd. Harley married Lillah McCarthy on 24/4/1906 at the Registry Office, Henrietta St, Strand*. He was playing opposite her in George Bernard Shaw’s ‘Man and Superman’ at the Royal Court Theatre at the time. They had no children and would eventually divorce. In the 1911 census for Wrotham nr Sevenoaks Lillah was listed, aged 32, actress but Harley scrawled a note (retrospectively) on the census form: ‘I was abroad on April 2nd. My wife for reasons connected with Woman’s Suffrage objected to fill in the paper. I give therefore with regard to her and her visitor all the information I can.’ Harley was remarried to American writer Helen Huntington in 1918.

Granville-Barker and Sharp corresponded several times about possible collaborations and they were clearly on the same wavelength. He was not related to E Phillips Barker, who edited some of Sharp’s books.

Granville-Barker died in Paris on 31/8/1946.

*Report Pall Mall Gazette Wed 25 April 1906

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