Exercises in Practical Mischievery #1: Yours Truly, Edna Welthorpe
Laura Pappa
Published by Speculative Press, Amsterdam, 2014, 16 pages w. insert (b/w ill.), 14.5 × 42 cm, English
Price: €4

The lovely woman going by the name of Edna Welthorpe is known today for her stabbing theatre criticism vocalised through the pages of local newspapers but also in her personal correspondence with playhouses and playwrights from the 1940s to the 1960s in London. Mrs Welthorpe took on the role of the guardian of public morals, protesting against, in her own words, ‘outrageous contemporary creations and the production of indecent thought’ that she believed should be banned from ‘the sight of not only our children but also the common public.’

Edna Welthorpe is one of the pseudonyms of the notorious British playwright Joe Orton (1933–1967), whom Orton used as an outraged critic of his work after he had achieved fame; she was joined later by the imaginary Donald H. Hartley, an Orton booster. Right up to his death, Orton wrote letters under different pseudonyms, which he used to create mischief and argument.

The publication reproduces some of Edna’s correspondence that was first published in the book Prick Up Your Ears: The Biography of Joe Orton by John Lahr (1978).

#2014 #laurapappa