Florence Smithson – A Musical Mystery?

Florence Annette SMITHSON, Welsh Soprano/actress/pantomimist 1884-1936

This star of the Edwardian stage was born in Wales, daughter of Will SMITHSON, actor and provincial theatre manager (?East and West Midlands?) – mother possibly Madame Florence ANNETTA, actress and pantomimist.  All three names may be stage names.

Florence SMITHSON first married in Merthyr Tydfil in 1901 to a George ROBINSON but later married Herbert TAYLOR (stage name Dan ROLYAT)

Part of Robert Courtneidge’s stable of talented actors and actresses, she starred with ROLYAT on many occasions making a huge impact at The Shaftesbury in the Arcadians.  A recording of her singing the Waltz song from the Arcadians exists ( HMV 15312 rec. London 12 July 1912).



‘She has a voice of extraordinary compass, which fact she demonstrated recently at the Shaftesbury Theatre in “The Arcadians.” She took a wonderful high note – F, four notes above the top C. Someone told her that Jenny Lind had soared four notes higher still, to what is known to the initiated as the A in Alt. This put Miss Smithson on her mettle, and one evening, in response to the inevitable encore, to the amazement of conductor, band, and audience, she, too, took the A in Alt.’ (From The Royal Magazine, London, October 1909, p.490).

His Master’s Voice 15312, recorded, London, 12 July 1912

‘Everybody will go into raptures over this sweetly pretty number as sung by this rapidly rising artiste… Miss Smithson’s intonation is absolutely faultless… [She] will be remembered by the signal success she achieved in the “Arcadians,” in connection with which play, it may be interesting to recount that Madame Patti [1843-1919] paid the former artiste a splendid compliment by throwing on the stage a tiny note which ran as follows: “I think you sing beautifully. – Adelina Patti.”’ (From The Talking Machine News and Side Lines, London, September for October 1912, p.291c).


A special concert for over-seas troops will be given to-night by Mr. Seymour Hicks at the Princes Theatre. Among the artists who will appear are Sir Johnston Forbes Robertson. Miss Ellaline Terriss, Mr. R. G. Knowles, Mr. Seymour Hicks and company, Miss Isobel Elsom Mr. Van Hoven, and Miss Florence Smithson. The Charlie Chaplin film, “The Property Master” will also be shown. All Canadian, Australian, New Zealand, South African, and other over-seas troops will be welcome. (From Daily News, London, 11 March 1917, p.2).

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