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The cartoon illustrated above – My Hammock, And How I Got Into It – is signed by Carl Hentschel, 1864 – 1930, who was a friend of Jerome K. Jerome and inspired the character of Harris in the book ‘Three Men in a Boat.’
Born in Lodz, Hentschel moved to London with his parents when he was five years old. At the age of twenty three he set up a company in Fleet Street, London specialising in new photomechanical techniques of printing pen-and-ink illustrations.
Hentschel claimed that his company was the largest of its kind in the world. It had three ‘factories’ in Fleet Street with a staff of 70. In 1906 it amalgamated with Hentschel-Colourtype Works and Meisenbach Works. The company produced engravings for newspapers, periodicals, and books, including artistic magazines like The Yellow Book, and reproductions of fine art, an example being ‘Snowdon From Capel Curig‘ By A. Oliver.
An enthusiastic theatre-goer, Hentschel was a co-founder of the Playgoers Club in 1883 and attended most of first nights in London. In 1900 Hentschel left the Playgoers Club with several hundred other members and formed the Old Playgoer’s Club. In 1902 he published a book ‘The O.P. Club: A few questions and their replies collected by Carl Hentschel on Are Dramatic Critics of any use? A debate, etc‘
Henschel died in January 1930 and in a lengthy obituary, The Stage reported…
The world of the theatre, both before and behind the curtain, will learn with keen regret of the death in London last Thursday afternoon (January 9) of Mr. Carl Hentschel, the founder, president, and trustee of the O.P. Club. Mr. Hentschel, who died after only a short illness, made a speech at tho O.P. Club’s New Year’s Dinner and Dance at the Hotel Cecil as recently as Sunday, December 29, when he appeared to be in his usual active health and spirits. He had suffered during recent years from failing eyesight. He will long be remembered as one of the keenest playgoers of his generation, and one of the slaunchest friends and supporters of the drama the English theatre has ever had.
After a digression into his father’s achievement and Carl’s inventions, the obituary continued…
He (Carl) invented the Hentschel-Colourtype process, invented and manufactured other process blocks, and also edited and wrote various publications on process work, on which he was a recognised authority. He was a member of the Royal Institute of Painters in Water Colours and the Royal Society of Arts, and the president of the Photo-Engravers’ Association.
The opportunity was taken to repair Carl Henschel’s reputation. Jerome K Jerome had chronicled their adventures in Three Men in a Boat.
In this delightful little book Hentschel figures as Harris, and is represented comically as being rather fond of a drink or two. As a matter of fact he, -“to say nothing of the dawg”-was the only teetotaller in the party.
After a lengthy explanation of theatre politics, the piece continues…
Mr. Henschel put in some useful work during the war years, and I was twice bombed on tno home front.” He was secretary of the Optimists Corps, which, at the request of Mr. Lloyd George, was re-named the London Volunteer Rifles. The corps supplied 600 men to act as firemen. During the daylight raid on July 7, 1917, a bomb crashed within dozen feet of him, but he escaped injury. Three months later a German shell fell on the drill hall of the corps, which was in the old German Gymnasium near King’s Cross, but the fuse caught in the coiling. Mr. Hentschel was at one time a member of the City Corporation.
The funeral took place on Saturday at Golders Green Crematorium. The Rev. H. Burn, of Marylebone, officiated. The principal mourners were: Mr. Christopher Hentschel (son), Mr. Ivor Brown. Mr. Arthur Hentschel (nephew). Mr. Pett-Ridge, Mr. L. Pasener and Mr. S. Pasener, Mr. L. Howland (brothers-in-law). Mr. William I Hayward (a director of Carl Hentschel, Ltd.), Mr. B. Harwood (representing Viscount Burnham), Mr. J. T. Grein, and Mr. George Wingrave. The O.P. Club was represented by Mr. Percy Barringer, Mr. George Holland. Mr. G. B. Burgin. Mr. W. Wolf, and Mr. J. Davis Smith. It was Mr. Hentschel’s own wish that no women mourners should attend his funeral.
Editorial from The Era – Wednesday 15 January 1930
BY THE EDITOR. Carl Hentschel. Carl Hentschel will greatly missed by his friends —and he had so many in the theatre loved so much and whose interests he guarded so jealously for the last forty years. He was, of course, best known as the founder of the O.P.Club; it was largely due to him that practically every actor and actress of note has been the guest of the Club during the last few years, and the Prince of Wales was officially present on one memorable occasion. It not betraying any secret to say that the success of the O.P. Club was largely due to Carl Hentschel’s personal energy and indefatigable interest. At the dinner hewould be in the chair at one moment, at another explaining things to the men at the Proas table, and then off for a cheery word with tho guests. He enjoyed it all, of course, and succeeded in conveying his fine enthusiasm to others. The theatre has lost a champion, upholder of its rights—a lover —by the death of Carl Hentschel; and lots us have lost a friend. His daughter, Irene, Hentschel, has inherited her father’s affection for the play. She is a very good actress and a sensitive and imaginative producer.
From The Era – Wednesday 26 February 1930
Proposing the toast of “The Club.” Mr. John Stevens aaid that the Gallery First Nighters’ Club was formed in 1897. Dear old Carl Hentschel, whosepassing they all regretted so much, lent them £lO for the Club’s formation. It was the best £lO ever spent. He did not know whether hehad ever been paid back that £lO, but he did know that by his death they hod lost a dear friend of the theatre.
The trail that led me to Carl Henschel began with the 1894 compilation volume of the Cottager & Artisan newspaper. On Peace Day, July 19th, 1919 my grandfather was presented with this book by the orphanage he had entered in 1916, just one month short of his seventh birthday. The hammock cartoon is one of the full page plates in the book.
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