Pam Bayfield, a Sydney author and the niece of Mary Jolly, has written a book about her aunt's life aptly titled A Leading Lady.
Mary Jolly was a revered actress of the Dunedin Repertory Society starring in many productions in the 1930's and 40's and beyond. Born in Cromwell, Mary was the daughter of David Charles and Annie Jolly. David Jolly ran the Provincial Hotel for many years and then Modern Furniture in Dunedin.
After Mary's death, Pam came into possession of her aunt's scrapbook and quickly realised that she had the bones of a book. The scrapbook contained programmes and photos from all the plays in which Mary starred. Under each photo, Mary had carefully placed the names of people starring in various roles. These include names such as Irenee O'Sullivan, Dora McPherson, Katrena Speight, Billie Loan, Anthony Spears and Roland Watson are but a few of the fellow actors and actresses that Mary worked alongside. Producers like Bessie Thompson who founded the Society, Dame Ngaio Marsh, Walter Russell-Wood, Arnold Goodwin, Kathleen Falconer and Patric Carey are also mentioned in Mary's scrapbook.
Pam decided to research the Jolly family beginning with David Anderson Jolly (Mary's grandfather) who came to New Zealand 144 years ago. With the help of a family tree provided by Allan and Margaret Jolly, Pam delved into the background of her large family. Many stories emerged and these as well as memories of Mary have been included in the book.
Pam will be in Dunedin in March 2007 for the launch of A Leading Lady and she would love to see there not only Mary's family and friends but also Theatre lovers and people interested in local history.
A Leading Lady will be launched by Mayor Peter Chin in the Skeggs Gallery in the Municipal Chambers on Wednesday 14 March 2007 at 6.30pm. Bookings can be made at the Dunedin Library on 03 477 4000. The book will be available from the University Book Shop in Dunedin.