Miss Eva Moore

Eva Moore with baby granddaughter, 1925, by Bassano Ltd, © National Portrait Gallery, London [1]
Eva Moore, 65, (1868-1955), married name Eva Moore Esmond Jack, was one of the best known actresses of her day, an active suffragist, and decorated for her wartime services. At the time of the dinner you could have seen her on the stage as Mrs Watson in The Holmeses of Baker Street, or on the screen with Boris Karloff in a filmed J.B. Priestley novel. In fact, before you are seated too comfortably at the dinner table, listen to Eva warning the young lady, lost on a “dark and stormy night”, in The Old Dark House.  You have been warned…..

Seated Beside…

Logic would suggest she was seated with Sylvia Lynd, both people in the arts promoting the cause of women. She may also have enjoyed the company of Jonathan Cape and Lady Butterfield.

What’s On Her Mind?

Perhaps she was anticipating the upcoming filming of the Frederic Lonsdale play “Never Come Back” and perhaps her upcoming tour with The Holmeses of Baker Street, that is if she does the tour as well have done the short London run. More likely she is just going to enjoy meeting up with all these remarkable people, most of whom will probably be known to her.

Eva’s Story So Far

Eva Moore with her husband Henry V. Esmond, Library of Congress [2]
Eva was born on 9th February 1868 at 67 Preston Street, Brighton, the eighth of ten children of Emily Strachan and her husband, chemist Edward Henry Moore. She was educated in Miss Pringle’s school in Brighton and studied gymnastics and dancing under the legendary Madame Michau in Liverpool. When Eva returned to Brighton to teach dancing, the young Winston Churchill was one of her pupils. Eva first appeared on the London stage in 1887 at the Vaudeville Theatre.  Four years later on on 19th November 1891 she married the Irish actor and playwright Henry Vernon Esmond (1869–1922), real name Harry Esmond Jack, son of Richard George Jack, a physician and surgeon. They had three children: a baby, Lynette, who did not survive, but there other two children, and Jack and Jill Esmond, went on the stage, Jill being the first wife of Laurence Olivier.

In 1908 Eva the suffragist helped to found the Actresses’ Franchise League, which brought together fellow professionals to support the cause. She marched, but stayed out of jail, and though she was a Vice President of AFL she had to resign after acting in a sketch written by her husband called Her Vote, in which the heroine prefers kisses to votes.

During the war Eva combined acting with volunteering: at the Vaudeville Theatre in the evening and helping at the Little Theatre which had been lent to the Women’s Emergency Corps.  She raised money for the the nursing station set up the ‘Women of Pervyse’- two nurses Mairi Chisholm and Elsie Knocker – just behind the front line at Pervyse, Belgium, and visited it in 1918 just as the Germans made their last big push.

Eva was honoured with the Ordre de la Reine Elisabeth for her war services, as were her five sisters. She and her husband continued touring, unlike most theatre companies, including in Canada, the US and Ireland.

As a Vice-President of the Six-Point Group in 1927 Eva co-signed a letter to The Times regarding votes for women at 21. Other signatories also at this dinner were Lady Rhondda, Winifred Cullis, and Florence Barry.[3]

At the time of the dinner Eva was still acting, age 65, though she had published her autobiography Exits and Entrances a decade earlier, in 1923. In February 1933 she had been elected a Vice President of the Stage Guild.[4] In January and February she had been appearing in Edinburgh, Stockport and elsewhere as Mrs Watson in the new play The Holmeses of Baker Street, prior to its London run at The Lyric theatre from 15th to the 25th February. It then went on tour. “Miss Eva Moore was greeted with affectionate popularity in her essentially feminine role, which she played with a generous admixture of comedy”.[5] [6] [7] [8] [9] [10] If you’d missed her at the theatre she could also entertain you in the cinema in The Dark House, a film of the J.B. Priestley novel starring Boris Karloff, then running across the country – filmed in England with a 90% British cast including Charles Laughton. [11]

What Eva did next

Eva Moore, 1923, by Bassano Ltd, © National Portrait Gallery, London [15]
A week after the dinner the film of the Frederic Lonsdale play “Never Come Back”, also involving Eva, went into production.[12] Busy busy. Eva retired from the theatre in 1945. Apple Porch, Henley Road, Bisham, near Maidenhead, was her final home; where she died on 27th April 1955.[13] [14]


[1] Eva Moore with baby granddaughter, 1925, by Bassano Ltd, © National Portrait Gallery, London 1925, NPG x83395, © National Portrait Gallery, London

[2] Eva Moore with her husband Henry V. Esmond. Studio White, New York (George Grantham Bain Collection, Library of Congress)

[3] Votes for Women at 21, Letter to the Editor. The Times, 4.2.1927 p10

[4] The Stage, 2.2.1933,

[5] J.P.Wearing, The London Stage 1930-1939: A Calendar of Productions, Performers, and Personnel Rowman & Littlefield, 15.5.2014

[6] Edinburgh Evening News, 24.1.1933

[7] Amnon Kabatchnik, Sherlock Holmes on the Stage: A Chronological Encyclopaedia of Plays Featuring the Great Detective, Scarecrow Press,10.6.2008

[8] The Holmeses of Baker Street advertisement The Stage, 26.1.1933

[9] The Holmeses of Baker Street advertisement, Lancashire Evening Post, 7.2.1933

[10] Illustrated London News, 25.2.1933

[11] Folkestone, Hythe, Sandgate and Cheriton Herald, 18.3.1933

[12] The Era, 2.3.1933 https://www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk/viewer/bl/0000053/19330329/093/0012

[13] Eva Moore, Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eva_Moore , accessed 7.2.2019

[14] Maroula Ioannou, Eva Moore, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, OUP, 29th May 2014, online accessed 17.1.2018 – an extremely helpful and authoritative source.

[15] Eva Moore, 1923, by Bassano Ltd, NPG x83394, © National Portrait Gallery, London

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