14 August 2018

Thea Holme  copy

Thea Holme (1904-1980) started her career as an actress: after studying at the Slade she went to the Central School of Drama and, in 1924, made her first stage appearance. In the 1930s she was in repertory at the Oxford Playhouse, with her husband Stanford Holme as producer. She was a captivating actress, ‘hard indeed of heart was the undergraduate who did not fall madly in love with this most elegant beauty with the wondering eyes’ (The Times obituary). They later moved to number 5 (now 24) Cheyne Row and became co-custodians of the house (which you can, and must, visit). Here she wrote PB No.32 The Carlyles at Home, about the life of Thomas and Jane Carlyle when they were at the centre of literary Victorian London. Significantly, Holme also focused on the lives of the various maids and cooks who lived with and worked for the Carlyles, including poor Kirkaldy Helen who drinks potent combinations of gin and rum and the devoted Bessy Barnet who only leaves to marry the ‘second son of a baronet’.