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Harry Relph (Little Tich) volumes

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This material is held at V&A Department of Theatre and Performance
Reference Number(s) GB 71 THM/326
Dates of Creation 1881 - 1974
Name of Creator Harry Relph
Language of Material English
Physical Description 2 boxes (4 volumes)

Scope and Content

This collection consists of four volumes containing images, cuttings and ephemera documenting the lives and careers of Harry Relph, his third wife Winifred Relph and his daughter Mary Relph, as well as photographs of other members of his immediate and extended family. In many instances the photographs have been labelled with relevant information (names, dated and context).

Administrative / Biographical History

Harry Relph, otherwise known on stage as Little Tich, would go on to become one of Britain's most popular music-hall and variety acts. His talents and his agility were closely related to his physical characteristics , in particluar his stature (he was 4 foot 6 inches tall) and the fact that he was double jointed. He became famous for his characters including the Spanish Senorita, the Tax Collector, the Tram Conductor, the Gas Inspector and Little Miss Turpentine. Perhaps his most memorable routine was called Big Boots, which had him dancing in boots that were 28 inches long. He was also a major Pantomime star, notably at Drury Lane. Famous in the United States and France as well as in Britain, his highly visual comic routines influenced both stage and early film performers internationally.

Born in 1867 in Bromley, Relph first appeared on stage at the age of twelve at the Rosherville Gardens in Gravesend with a "blackface" act he had developed himself. He made his London debut at the Foresters Theatre in 1884. During a 1887-1889 tour of the United States Relph abandoned the 'blackface' act to concentrate on dancing and character sketches, developing his Big Boots routine and a burlesque of the famous Serpentine dance performed by the American dancer Loie Fuller.

Relph was married three times; to English dancer Laurie Brooks in 1889, then to Spanish dancer Julia Recio in 1898 and finally to actress Winifred Ivey in 1926. Harry and Winifreds daughter Mary was born in 1918 and went on to have a successful stage career of her own.

His final performance was at the London Alhambra Theatre in 1927. Following an on-stage accident, Relph suffered a stroke and died shortly afterwards in February, 1927. His widow Winifred died in 1973.


This collection has been arranged into the following items:

  • THM/326/1 - Harry Relph (Little Tich) - Career
  • THM/326/2 - Harry Relph (Little Tich) - Career and family
  • THM/326/3 - Winifred Relph - Life and career
  • THM/326/4 - Mary Relph - Life and career

Conditions Governing Access

This archive collection is available for consultation in the V&A Blythe House Archive and Library Study Room by appointment only. Full details of access arrangements may be found here: http://www.vam.ac.uk/content/articles/a/archives/.

Access to some of the material may be restricted. These are noted in the catalogue where relevant.

Conditions Governing Use

Information on copying and commercial reproduction may be found here: http://www.vam.ac.uk/content/articles/a/archives/.

Physical Characteristics and/or Technical Requirements

The four volumes in this collection are in a very fragile condition, largely due to their creation involving the use of ring-binders, inexpensive scrapbooks, plastic materials, adhesive tapes and other materials impacting on the long-term stability of the items. During the cataloguing process some preventive measures have been applied, however for a number of items access is at the discretion of the archivist only.

Appraisal Information

This collection was appraised in line with the collection management policy.

Acquisition Information

Gift of a friend of Mary Relph, 2001.


No further accruals are expected.

Related Material

See also the core collections of the V&A Theatre and Performance Department. Material relating to Little Tich may be found in several collections, including the biographical, productions and photographs files, the library holdings and the Richard Findlater Archive (THM/162). The Theatre and Performance Department also has a pair of the famous Little Tich 'Big Boots' in its collection.

Please ask for details.

Personal Names

Relph, Harry. ( 1867 - 1928)
Fuller, Loie. ( 1862 - 1928)
Relph, Winifred. ( 1892 - 1973)
Brooks, Laurie. ( d. 1901)
Recio, Julia. ( d. 1926)
Relph, Mary. ( b. 1918)

Geographical Names

Rosherville Gardens Theatre, Gravesend, Kent
Foresters Theatre, London
Alhambra Theatre, London

Cataloguing Info

Title Harry Relph (Little Tich) volumes
Creation Created by Veronica Castro using the cheshire for archives ead creation tool 2012-03-09

Harry Relph (Little Tich) - Career

Reference Number(s) GB 71 THM/326/1
Dates of Creation 1881 - 1919
Physical Description 1 volume

Scope and Content

This volume contains materials relating to the career of Harry Relph between 1881 and 1919. It contains black and white publicity and production photographs of Relph in a variety of roles and costumes.

Harry Relph (Little Tich) - Career and family

Reference Number(s) GB 71 THM/326/2
Dates of Creation 1883 – 1974
Physical Description 1 volume

Scope and Content

This volume is labelled on front: "Family of Relph - six generations" and contains both black and white and colour photographs of Relph and members of his immediate and extended family, including his parents, siblings and wives. Other notable contents include:

  • Signed Little Tich photograph.
  • Little Tich production photographs, newspaper review cuttings and two programmes.
  • Photocopy of a letter from Harry to a sister, dated 1883.
  • Images of Relphs’ gravesite in Paris, which he shared with his wife Winifred, dated 1974.

Personal Names

Relph, Winifred. ( 1892 - 1973)

Winifred Relph - Life and career

Reference Number(s) GB 71 THM/326/3
Dates of Creation 1912 - 1973
Physical Description 1 volume

Scope and Content

This volume is labelled on front: "Winifred E. Relph / Career and family before and after becoming widow of Little Tich - comedian." It contains photographs of Winifred and her family. Other notable contents include the following:

  • Music sheet for “In the Garden of my Heart”, sung by Miss Ivey Latimer.
  • Production programmes.
  • Promotional images of other stage performers, one of which is signed.
  • Photographs and examples of her modelling career.
  • Copies of poems written by Winifred.
  • Mixed correspondence.

Administrative / Biographical History

Winifred Emma Relph (born Winifred Emma Ivey, her stage name was Ivey Latimer) became Harry Relph's third wife in 1926 and was the mother of their daughter Mary Relph, born in 1918. In her time she performed as a dramatic soprano and actress, as well as working as a model.

Personal Names

Relph, Winifred. ( 1892 - 1973)
Relph, Mary. ( b. 1918)

Mary Relph - Life and career

Reference Number(s) GB 71 THM/326/4
Dates of Creation 1939 - 1951
Physical Description 1 volume

Scope and Content

This volume is labelled on front: "Mary Relph's Scrap Album Vol.2". It contains promotional and personal photographs of the life and career of Mary Relph. Other notable contents include the following:

  • Correspondence and contract from Charles B. Cochrane relating to her stage career, dated 1939.
  • Production programmes.
  • Signed original caricature artworks by Mary.
  • Lists of art commissions and monies earned, dated 1939-1943.
  • Tour contract, images and programme for Lights Up, dated 1940.
  • Newspaper cuttings, photographs and correspondence related to Mary’s various career changes.
  • Second World War National Service Act card and National Registration Identity Card, dated 1940.
  • Clothing ration book, dated 1949.

Administrative / Biographical History

Mary Relph was the daughter of Harry and Winifred Relph, born in 1918. She followed her parents onto the stage and worked as an actress and performer, famously becoming one of the producer C.B. Cochrane's 'Young Ladies'. These girls were pretty, could sing and dance in an elegant manner and epitomised the ‘ideal’ British girl of the time. Following the outbreak of the Second World War, Mary left the stage to train as a caterer and later worked as a draughtswoman designing roadsigns.

Physical Characteristics and/or Technical Requirements

The contents of this volume were originally kept inside a ring-binder, which has been disposed of as a preventative conservation measure.

Personal Names

Cochrane, Charles Blake. ( 1872 - 1951)
Relp, Mary. ( b. 1918)