Just come across Jessie Bond's autobiography online. She was a Victorian singer and actress who made a special name for herself in Gilbert & Sullivan. Her story is quite a fascinating one. It's written in a conversational style, without any intellectual pretentions.

LIfe in the Victorian theatre was hard work but much more fun for a woman than most things that they were allowed to do. Needless to say it was regarded as "not quite nice" and Jessie observes that she was a bit worried about making the transition from singing classical music to acting because of the potential damage to her reputation.

It must have been great to be an actress, though, if you had any talent, because it was one of the few more-or-less respectable professions where a woman could earn her own money and be independent. Of course, however independent they were when single, if they got married they were still subjected to the will of their husbands.. Even the great Ellen Terry, one of the most famous stage actresses ever, was forced to give up acting when she married for the first time (in fact, her middle aged husband actually sent her to school as she was only 16!) Jessie claims she was pretty well abducted and forced to marry - and work. In those days, of course, all her earnings had to go to her husband since women had no right to keep their own money.

I don't like reading long documents on the computer so I looked for a copy of her book in online bookstores. Rip off! They cost hundreds of pounds! I suppose I'll have to print it out from the website, and read it on bits of paper.

I was of course hoping that she had known Carroll, and indeed he HAD seen her, although doesn't seem to have talked to her. In August 1891, he wrote "Went to town, to meet, at Paddington, Ethel Hatch, who is coming as my guest. In the evening we went to the Devonshire Park Theatre, and saw the "duologue" entertainment by Miss Jessie Bond and Mr. Rutland Barrington. It consists of three pieces, a Fancy Ball incident, a sham (mesmeric) Professor, and a scene between, a butler and ladies' maid, in which they recite the balcony-scene from Romeo and Juliet. It was very clever."

Ethel Hatch, by the way, had been one of Carroll's nude photographic models when she was about five years old. She had remained very fond of him and they were good friends - by this time, she was in her mid twenties and on this occasion she was accompanying him for a few days' holiday in a guest house at Eastbourne. Carroll's fondness for having young women as social partners sometimes gave rise to gossip, as it wasn't quite the done thing to do this in Victoriain days. Even though he was supposed to be such a respectable clerical type, he attended literally hundreds of plays in his life and was totally obsessed with them and besotted with the theatrical life.