Harry Lauder

Harry Lauder

Infobox performer
bgcolour =
name = Sir Harry Lauder

imagesize = 150px
caption =
birthname = Henry McLennan Lauder
birthdate = birth date|1870|8|4|df=y
location = Portobello, Edinburgh
deathdate = death date and age|1950|2|26|1870|8|4|df=y
deathplace = Strathaven, Lanarkshire
othername =
homepage =
genre = Music hall comedian & singer
spouse = Anne Vallance; 1 son (predeceased by both)

Sir Henry Lauder (4 August 1870 - 26 February 1950), known professionally as Harry Lauder, was a notable Scottish entertainer, described by Sir Winston Churchill as "Scotland's greatest ever ambassador!" [ [http://special.lib.gla.ac.uk/sta/lauder/index.html Sir Harry Lauder: 1870-1950] ] [cite news
title=Sir Harry Lauder
work=Time Magazine

Early life

Henry Lauder was born at Portobello, Edinburgh in the home of his maternal grandfather, Henry McLennan. His father was John Currie Lauder, descended from the Lauders of The Bass, and his mother was Isabella Urquhart MacLeod McLennan, born in Arbroath to a family from the Black Isle. At the time, his father was also living in Portobello.

John Lauder moved to Newbold, Derbyshire in 1882 to take up a job designing china. After only a short time in residence there, he died of pneumonia, and his widow Isabella moved to her brother's home in Arbroath with her five sons and two daughters. She was determined to continue Harry's education (it being then customary for children to find employment at the age of 11 or 12), and he worked part-time at the local flax mill until he was 16 in order to qualify to attend the school there.

On 19 June 1891, Harry married Ann Vallance, the daughter of a colliery manager at Hamilton, South Lanarkshire, attended by his brother Matthew as best man. A year later, Harry served as best man at Matthew's wedding to Ann's sister, Catherine.


Lauder is said to have first appeared in his music-hall career as an Irish comedian. He toured the world extensively during his forty-year career, including 22 trips to the United States and several to Australia, to which his brother John had emigrated. He was, at one time, the highest-paid performer in the world, making the equivalent of £12,700 a night plus expenses, [cite news | work=The Sunday Times | title=Harry Lauder, coming to a ringtone near you | date=2005-07-24] and was the first British performer to sell more than a million records. Lauder's appeal was not limited to popular tastes; he was a favourite of King Edward VII and a friend of Sir Thomas Lipton, the tea merchant.

When World War I broke out, Lauder was in Melbourne on one of his Australian tours. During the war, he led successful fundraising efforts for war charities, organised a tour of music halls in 1915 for recruitment purposes, and entertained the troops under enemy fire in France. He suffered personal tragedy during the war, when his only son, John (1891–1916), a captain in the 8th Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, was killed in action on 28 December 1916 at Poiziers. Harry wrote the song "Keep Right on to the End of the Road" in the wake of John's death, and would memorialize his son, who was buried in France, in the little Lauder cemetery in Glenbranter. For his services during the war, Lauder was knighted in January 1919.

His works

Sir Harry wrote most of his own songs, favourites of which were "Roamin' in the Gloamin'", "I Love a Lassie", "A Wee Deoch-an-Doris", and "Keep Right on to the End of the Road", which is used by Birmingham City Football Club as their club anthem.

He starred in three British films: "Huntingtower" (1928), "Auld Lang Syne" (1929) and "The End of the Road" (1936).

He also wrote a number of books which ran into several editions, including "Harry Lauder at Home and on Tour" (1912), "A Minstrel in France" (1918), "Between You and Me" (1919),"Roamin’ in the Gloamin’" (1928 autobiography), "My Best Scotch Stories" (1929), "Wee Drappies" (1931) and"Ticklin’ Talks" (circa 1932).

Later years

Sir Harry's wife died on 31 July 1927 and was buried next to her son's memorial at 'Glenbranter', Argyll. His niece, Margaret (Greta) Lauder, M.B.E., (1900–1966), moved in with him at his home, 'Laudervale' (outside Dunoon), and would become his constant companion in later years.

Sir Harry's final retirement was announced in 1935. However, he again entertained troops during World War II, despite his age, and made wireless broadcasts with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra. He also appeared immediately after the war to thank the crews of American food relief ships docking at Glasgow. His last years were spent in his home of Lauder Ha' at Strathaven, where he died in February 1950, aged 79.

As might be expected, his funeral was widely reported on. One of the chief mourners was the Duke of Hamilton, who led the funeral procession and read the lesson. Unexpectedly, Sir Harry was interred with his mother and brother George at Bent Cemetery, Hamilton, rather than at 'Glenbranter'.

After death

The family held on to Lauder Hall until the late 1960s, when death duties forced its sale.

Sir Harry Lauder is frequently mentioned today in a wide variety of programmes, and the Scottish education authorities encourage Scottish dancing to some of his tunes.

When the A199 Portobello bypass was opened, it was named the "Sir Harry Lauder Road". [cite web | url=http://www.edinburgh.gov.uk/internet/Attachments/Internet/Transport/Motor_vehicles_roads_and_parking/Roads_and_highways/List_of_Public_Roads%20Q%20-%20Z%20(1Nov06).pdf | title=List of Public Roads Q - Z | accessdate=2007-08-30]

On 28 July 1987 the Lord Provost of Edinburgh, The Rt. Hon. John McKay, CBE, hosted a luncheon at the Edinburgh City Chambers, to commemorate the 60th Anniversary of the granting of the Freedom of the City to Sir Harry Lauder, attended by family representative Gregory Lauder-Frost, who, on 4 August 2001, formally opened the new Sir Harry Lauder Memorial Garden at Portobello Town Hall, [ "The Portobello Reporter", Autumn 2001 edition] and was the principal commentator throughout the Saltire/BBC2 TV (Scotland) documentary entitled "Something About Harry" screened on 30 November 2005. On September 19, 2007 Lauder-Frost as guest-of-honour rededicated for another century the Burslem Golf Course & Club at Stoke-on-Trent, which had been formally opened on the same day in 1907 by Harry Lauder. [ "The Sentinel (Stoke-on-Trent)" (newspaper), Stoke-on-Trent, 4 October 2007, p. 47 (includes photo).]

In the 1990s, samples of recordings of Lauder were used on two tracks recorded by the Scottish folk/dance music artist Martyn Bennett.

An ornamental cultivar of Common Hazel (Corylus avellana) has become known as Harry Lauder's Walking Stick or Corkscrew Hazel. It was noticed growing as part of a hedge in the 1800s & is now propagated by grafting. It gains this name from the fact Harry regularly appeared with a crooked walking stick.

Further reading

For further reading see the various books by Sir Harry Lauder, including

* "Roamin' in the Gloamin" (Autobiography) by Sir Harry Lauder, (London, 1928), reprinted without the photos, London, 1976, (ISBN 0-7158-1176-2)

Other sources

* "Great Scot!: the life story of Sir Harry Lauder, legendary laird of the music hall." by Gordon Irving, London, 1968 (ISBN 0-09089-0701).

* "Harry Lauder in the Limelight" by William Wallace, Lewes, Sussex, 1988, (ISBN 0-86332-312-X), which has a foreword and extensive notes by Sir Harry's great-nephew, Gregory Lauder-Frost.

* "The Sunday Times" (Scottish edition), 24 July 2005, article: "Harry Lauder, coming to a ringtone near you", by David Stenhouse.

* "The Ancestry of Sir Harry Lauder", in "The Scottish Genealogist", Edinburgh, June 2006, Vol. 53, #2, ISSN-0-3003-37X .

* "A Minstrel in France", Hearst's International Book Company, London, 1918, by Harry Lauder about the death of his son.

* Sir Harry Lauder's, "Keep Right on to the End of the Road", has been adopted as Birmingham City Football Club's anthem and is one of the most widely recognised football songs in the UK.

*cite web | url=http://www.electricscotland.com/webclans/htol/lauder3.htm | title=Biographical Notes on Sir Harry Lauder | accessdate=2007-08-30 | last=Lauder-Frost | first=Gregory

External links

* [http://www.sirharrylauder.com/ A Celebration of Sir Harry Lauder] , the Laird of the [http://www.sirharrylauder.com/musichall/music.html Music Hall]
*gutenberg author|id=Harry_Lauder|name=Harry Lauder
* [http://cylinders.library.ucsb.edu/search.php?query=harry+lauder&queryType=%40attr+1%3D1 Harry Lauder cylinder recordings] , from the Darrell Baker Collection Cylinder Preservation and Digitization Project at the University of California, Santa Barbara Library.


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