Shaun Glenville (1884-1968)



(Mander and Mitchenson
Theatre Collection, with permission)

Shaun Glenville, whom Music Hall historian Christopher Pulling calls one of the “grand comedians of the music-halls,”1 was born John Browne in Dublin; his mother was manager of Dublin’s famous Abbey Theatre. The hard-drinking Glenville was married to singer Dorothy Ward, and together they had successful careers in pantomime, that peculiarly British institution of Christmastime children’s entertainment featuring nursery tales, audience participation, and cross-dressing — she as one of the best “Principal Boys” and he as “a pantomime Dame without equal.”2 Their son Peter Glenville (1913–96) became an actor, film director, and producer of Broadway shows.

For more information on Shaun Glenville and Dorothy Ward, as well as a collection of interesting photographs, see the website:

Both Shaun Glenville and Dorothy Ward were good friends of Fred Godfrey’s, and Glenville wrote several songs with him (see the entry under Glenville in the “Collaborators” section). He probably performed them as well, but is known to have recorded just two Godfrey songs, both in 1915: Where Did You Get The Name Of Hennessy? (Regal G-7607) and The Yiddisher Irish Baby (Levi, Carney, Jacob, Barney, Michael Isaacstein) (Regal G-7221). According to sheet music covers and other sources, Glenville performed at least five other Godfrey songs on stage: When An Irishman Goes Fighting (1914); Tommy’s Learning French (in a concert in France for the troops, June 1915); Calling Me Home (1922); My Little-Da-Monk (1930); and It Takes An Irish Heart To Sing An Irish Song (1932)..

In the summer of 1931, Fred Godfrey, fresh from touring the previous year with Tom Finglass, joined Shaun Glenville as his pianist for several appearances — for example, at the Hippodrome, Leeds (June 1931) and the Hippodrome, Birmingham (July 1931). Concerning the Leeds engagement, a local newspaper noted: “Accompanying him this week. Mr. Glenville has had an old friend of boyhood days, Fred Godfrey, the well-known writer of popular song....Shaun and Fred Godfrey were lads together, and although life has taken them in different directions, they have always maintained a warm friendship. Hence this week’s visit.”3 “Boyhood days” is something of a stretch, however, since both would have been in their twenties before meeting.



1  Christopher Pulling, They Were Singing (And What They Sang About) (London: George G. Harrap, 1952), p. 52.
2  W. MacQueen-Pope, The Melodies Linger On: The Story of Music Hall (London: W.H. Allen, 1950), p. 340.
3  “The Listener,” Yorkshire Evening Post, 6 June 1931, p. 5.