Leslie Stuart

b. Thomas Augustine Barrett, 15 March 1864, Southport, Lancashire, England, d. 27 March 1928, Richmond, Surrey, England. Stuart played piano professionally in Manchester and was for many years a church…
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Artist Biography

b. Thomas Augustine Barrett, 15 March 1864, Southport, Lancashire, England, d. 27 March 1928, Richmond, Surrey, England. Stuart played piano professionally in Manchester and was for many years a church organist. Gradually, he became known for popular songs and in particular for those sung by the ‘blackface’ performer Eugene Stratton, among which are ‘Lily Of Laguna’, ‘Little Dolly Daydream’ and ‘Sweetheart May’. Another song that gained popularity began life as a march written for the opening of the Manchester Ship Canal; with an added lyric this became ‘The Soldiers Of The Queen’. He continued performing classical music in Manchester but also wrote popular songs for music hall entertainers such as Lottie Collins. One of his songs of this period was ‘Louisiana Lou’, which was interpolated into The Shop Girl (1894) wherein it was sung by Ellaline Terriss. Stuart’s breakthrough came with his score for the hugely popular Florodora (1899). With libretto by Owen Hall and lyrics were by Paul Rubens and Ernest Boyd-Jones, the show enjoyed long runs and many revivals in London’s West End, on Broadway, and countless provincial and touring productions. Songs from this show include ‘The Silver Star Of Love’, ‘When I Leave Town’ and ‘I’ve An Inklin’’. Best remembered is a song sung in the show by six girls and six boys, ‘Tell Me, Pretty Maiden’. Later successful shows scored by Stuart include The Silver Slipper (1901), another collaboration with Hall, The School Girl (1903, which starred Edna May and George Grossmith Jnr. ), The Belle Of Mayfair (1906, again starring May who was succeeded by Phyllis Dare), and Havana (1908). Hired by George Edwardes to write for productions to be staged at The Gaiety Theatre, he began with the undistinguished Captain Kidd (1910), starring Terriss and her husband, Seymour Hicks, and then Peggy (1911). That same year, Stuart wrote a show for Broadway, The Slim Princess, starring Elsie Janis.

Stuart continued to write songs and also two complete scores that were never performed, but his best days were behind him. A compulsive gambler, Stuart eked out a living singing his songs to his own piano accompaniment in music halls. His daughter, May Leslie Stuart, appeared in some musical comedies, including replacing Ada Reeve in a 1915 revival of Floradora. Stuart also wrote under the pseudonym Lester Thomas.