Kate Sullivan (1878-79)

[Born Chelsea 1855, died 28 Jul 1912]

Kate Sullivan was the daughter of John Sullivan, an uncle of Sir Arthur Sullivan, and was, accordingly, Arthur Sullivan's first cousin. She was a chorister with a touring Comedy Opera Company Ltd., playing Trial by Jury and The Sorcerer under D'Oyly Carte management, from March to August 1878. It seems likely she remained in the chorus when the Company took up H.M.S. Pinafore in September 1878, though hard evidence is missing. We do know that following the fracture between Carte, Gilbert, and her cousin on one side, and the directors of the Comedy Opera Company on the other, at the end of July 1879, Miss Sullivan amazingly cast her lot with the directors.

The rival Pinafore ran for 91 performances at the Imperial and Royal Olympic Theatres, ultimately closing in October for lack of public support. Miss Sullivan was the fourth of five singers to appear as Josephine in that production, was also the second of three Marias in the curtain raiser After All, and played Jenny Wood in the afterpiece Breaking the Spell.

Little is known of Kate Sullivan's subsequent stage career. She was the Fairy Sapphire in Harry Paulton's revised version of The Black Crook at London's Alhambra Theatre, beginning in December 1881, before moving up to the title role later in a run that ended in April 1882. More than a decade later she appeared at the Olympic as Mrs. Fitzwarren in the pantomime Dick Whittington (December 1892-February 1893). At the time of her death in 1912 she was described in The Era Almanack as a "retired burlesque artist."

Two of her sisters, Rose Hervey and Jane Hervey (stage names), also appeared with the D'Oyly Carte organization. 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 modified January 27, 2007© 2003-07 David Stone