Millie Hylton's real name was Sarah Rudge, and she began her career as one of the five Rudge sisters,
British actresses and dancers from Birmingham. The sisters were primarily dancers but later developed
their singing talents, working in pantomime, Victorian burlesque, and later Edwardian musical comedy,
often at the Gaiety Theatre and Daly's Theatre in London in the 1880s and 90s.
On her own, Millie Hylton worked in the theatre and the music halls, eventually making a career in
variety as a male impersonator and was the mother of actress Millie Sim (b.1895).
‘Cartes de visite’, the size of formal visiting cards, were patented in 1854 and produced in
their millions during the 1860s when it became fashionable to collect them. Their subjects
included scenic views, tourist attractions and works of art, as well as portraits.
They were superseded in the late 1870s by the larger and sturdier ‘cabinet cards’ whose
popularity waned in turn during the 1890s in favour of postcards and studio portraits.
This photograph comes from a large collection of ‘cartes de visite’ and ‘cabinet cards’ removed from
their backings and mounted in albums by Guy Tristram Little (d.1953) who bequeathed them to the V&A.
A collector of greetings cards, games and photographs, Guy Little was a partner in the legal firm
Messrs Milles Jennings White & Foster, and the solicitor and executor of Mrs. Gabrielle Enthoven,
whose theatrical collection formed the basis of the Theatre Collections at the V&A.