Beatrice Forbes Robertson Hale – Family Legend

My great grandmotherBeatrice Forbes Robertson Hale granddaughter of Joseph Knight FRA, daughter to Ian Forbes Robertson, niece to the great Johnston Forbes Robertson and mother to my grandmother Sanchia.  This is my family legend.  But it is not only my legend; because my great grandmother and grandmother wrote a book aptly styled with the same name.  Great names pop out of it all over the place and if you will forgive the name dropping I might hint that George Bernard Shaw, Mark Twain, Lilly Langtry, Ellen Terry, Mrs Pat Campbell and Henry Irving all make their appearances.  Even my very own idol Oscar Wilde plays a small part of having ‘dandled’ my great grandmother on his knee.


The book is however about an era in which the family travailed; about a time when married #Womenwriters were denigrated for dishonoring their husbands by being published.  Why you ask?  Because if a wife brought money into the home by the work of her own hand, then the inference was the husband was too weak to do so.  With this in mind, actresses were often viewed similarly.  The great names as we know them today have been illuminated by the passing of time.  Please do not misunderstand me, they had reputation and were sought out for their company but they were not considered of good breeding! This was also the time of the suffragette movement, and Beatrice passionate about the hope that this might bring to her kindred spirits retired from acting and spoke all of United Kingdom and United States of America on the potential of women having equal voice.  She never condoned the aggressive nature of some of her peers, but spoke of the matters closer to home.  The chance to intellectually interact, to recognize that the female gender had qualities beyond dressing for occasion.  She wrote #WhatWomenWant which became compulsory educational reading.

Oscar Wilde, 1882. I would like to leave you with a few last words from Beatrice herself, never before published:

“Life seems good to me; a chance to view the great Peep-show infinitely worth while.  It is indeed difficult for me to understand why, with so much to learn and see, anyone should not be thankful for the opportunity.  I am glad to have tasted it all, and look forward to a few more years of remembering the past, watching the present and – for the future – Hope lurks always in Pandora’s box.

‘It may be that we cease; we cannot tell.

Even if we cease, life is a miracle.’

Beatrice Forbes Robertson Hale