Jennie Hervey (1877-92)

[Born Chelsea 1850, died Chelsea 25 Dec 1931]

Jennie Hervey, real name Jane Sullivan, joined the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company chorus at the Opera Comique for the first production of The Sorcerer in November 1877. She would serve in the Opera Comique and Savoy chorus for the next fourteen years, through the initial production of The Nautch Girl (June 1891-January 1892). The only time her name appeared in a D'Oyly Carte program, however, was as an "offstage voice" in the George Grossmith companion piece Cups & Saucers (Opera Comique, August 1878-February 1880), when it played with H.M.S. Pinafore.

Beyond the D'Oyly Carte, she appeared at four benefit matinees (Savoy, May 1889; Prince of Wales's, July 1889; Comedy, February 1890; and Criterion, June 1890) in a one-act operetta by Walter Frith and Alfred Caldicott called Locked In. She played the schoolmistress, Antigone Sparkes, and appeared under her real name, Jane Sullivan, at the Comedy performance.

Compelled to leave the stage in the early 1890s to care for her mother, who had gone blind, Miss Sullivan retained her devotion to the operas, and was a familiar figure at D'Oyly Carte performances until shortly before her death.

Jennie Hervey was the daughter of John Sullivan, an uncle of Sir Arthur Sullivan, and was, accordingly, Sir Arthur's first cousin. Two of her sisters, Rose (Rose Hervey), and Kate Sullivan, also appeared with D'Oyly Carte Companies. There is an excellent article on the three of them:"Three Little Maids is the Total Sum" by Selwyn Tillett, in Sir Arthur Sullivan Society Magazine, No. 33, Autumn 1991.

Page created August 8, 2002 © 2002 David Stone