Millie Hylton

singer/dancer / 1880s

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).

(from V&A Collections)

Guy Little Theatrical "Cabinet Card" Photograph
of Millie Hylton, the male impersonator

Photography was a novel and exciting development in Victorian days.
Most actors and actresses had studio photographs taken,
in everyday dress or theatrical costume, for ‘cartes de visite’, and later ‘cabinet cards’.
Both were albumen prints made from glass negatives, attached to stiff card backing printed
with the photographer’s name.

‘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They were superseded in the late 1870s by the larger and sturdier ‘cabinet cards’ whose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.

Tony Pastor's 14th Street Theatre / NYC / Vaudeville Program / November 18, 1889

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