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Elsie Fogerty and the mother tongue
Palmes, Deborah Leigh
Doctoral Committee Chair(s)
Hobgood, Burnet M.
Department of Study
Degree Granting Institution
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Education, History of
"At her death in 1945, several theatre critics and historians considered Elsie Fogerty's lifetime of achievements vital to the development of twentieth century English theatre. Times critic W. A. Darlington stated the consensus of most theatre professionals with his claim that Fogerty ""taught the modern stage to speak."" Today, however, Fogerty's work has been virtually forgotten."
This study reveals Fogerty as a pioneer in the world of voice and speech training. She founded in 1906 the Central School of Speech and Drama, one of the first and most influential actor-training institutions in England. The curriculum she established there helped to set the standard for twentieth century theatre education. Fogerty formed the Association of Teachers of Speech and Drama (now the Society of Teachers of Speech and Drama), a league of teachers who helped to spread her influence across England. She created and was for three decades Superintendent of England's first remedial speech clinic, thereby beginning the practice of speech therapy in England. The University of London's Diploma in Dramatic Art was installed as a result of Fogerty's twenty-year struggle to make theatre a university-level field of study.
She was known as the vocal coach of England's stars; Laurence Olivier, Peggy Ashcroft, Sybil Thorndike, John Gielgud, Edith Evans, and many other famous actors either attended Central School or took private lessons from Fogerty. Although her name is not widely recognized today, few students of theatre in the last quarter of the twentieth century have not encountered voice and speech exercises originally created by Fogerty. Through Fogerty's pioneering efforts, nineteenth century elocution--with its accompanying faults of artificiality, bombast, and pedantry--gradually and irreversibly metamorphosed into the public speaking standards of the twentieth century.