Miss Lilian Baylis died, the dramatic critics paid her the usual obituary
tributes, and did due justice to her wonderful work for the English
Theatre. But most of them knew her only in her public capacity, and could
tell very little of her remarkable personality, difficult,
dominating, intensely religious to the limit of superstition, for whom
obstacles were encountered only to be overcome.
To understand Miss Baylis one had to share her work at the Old Vic and Sadlers Wells ; to come under the lash of her impatience ; to be encouraged and consoled by her swift human sympathy ; to realise her indomitable devotion to the task she had set herself, of establishing a People's Theatre in the heart of the People's World. Mr. Russell and Miss Sybil Thorndike worked with her in the crucial years, when the lights of the Old Vic were kept burning during the horrors of the Great War, when the poorest of the poor were cheered in their sufferings by the visionary charm of opera and drama.
This book is the story of a great friendship, of a splendid achievement, and preserves the portrait of a wonderful woman. Written from intimate knowledge, it abounds in fresh, entertaining anecdote, and in revealing touches of character and influence. It is a genuine portrait, with all its elusive traits portrayed, and no one who has ever spent a happy hour at the Old Vic can fail to find it full of interest and life.
Chapman & Hall