Sunday 12 October 2008

Frank Vosper

I’ve acquired a few modestly priced books from that excellent bookseller Jamie Sturgeon. They include three books inscribed by their rather obscure authors.

The best-remembered of the trio is Frank Vosper. He was an actor, born in 1899, who was somewhat typecast as an urbane villain. Like the equally stylish Peter Wyngarde, whom I mentioned in connection with ‘Department S’, Vosper was gay, but in the early years of the 20th century it was necessary to be rather discreet about one’s sexuality. He appeared in Hitchcock’s first (1934) version of The Man Who Knew Too Much, and also starred in Love From a Stranger, which he adapted from Agatha Christie’s short story ‘Philomel Cottage’.

Vosper wrote a number of plays, including Murder on the Second Floor (1932.) My signed book is the rather obscure People Like Us, which was apparently based on the classic Thompson-Bywaters case, which inspired the rather more famous A Pin to See the Peep-Show by F. Tennyson Jesse.

A curious feature of People Like Us is that, although it was published in 1929, apparently the Lord Chamberlain banned it and the first stage production did not come until the 1940s.

By then, Vosper was dead. He drowned after falling from a transatlantic liner and his death was only ruled as an accident after much media speculation, involving alleged sexual shenanigans aboard the ship. Sounds as though the bizarre and tragic episode could have provided the raw material for a fictional mystery.

3 comments: said...

I am a distant relative of Frank Vosper playwright Can I ask you where you found the information about his death? Also are you interested in selling the inscribed book you bought as I would love a copy

Martin Edwards said...

Good to hear from you. My info came from internet research and, as I recall, one or two books about Agatha Christie. At present, I'm not thinking of selling the book, as it is rather scarce.

Anonymous said...

UK actors union Equity are looking for his family to pay out royalties - see his name in this list