Fraulein Hellwege’s Drawing-Room Reading, 7 Park Circus, Thursday 10th of April 1879

The advertisement on page one of The Glasgow Herald, 10th of April 1879, reads:


“FRAULEIN HELLWEGE will give a DRAWING-ROOM READING, selected from the Drama and Poetry (in German, English, and French), TO-NIGHT (THURSDAY), 10TH APRIL, at No 7 Park Circus, by the kind Permission of Mr and Mrs Smith. Tickets and Programmes (2s 6d) to be had of Mr McKinlay, Bookseller, Sauchiehall Street.”


The owner of the residence, James Smith, of James Smith and Watson, is listed in the 1879-80 Post Office Glasgow Directory, page 455.


A notice in the Herald, page six, on Thursday the 11th, provides some details of the event, which is described in the heading as “A SOCIAL INNOVATION”. Fraulein Hellweg was well known as a teacher of German, and gave some readings “under circumstances which are altogether new in Glasgow.” The venue was Mr and Mrs Smith’s drawing-room, “and the audience consisted of ladies and gentlemen who had paid for admission in the usual way, and were not necessarily known to the host and hostess.” The room was crowded with a brilliant assembly, and was so successful that it encouraged a “repetition of the experiment.”


All of the readings were in German, with the exception of a short extract from a French author, and another from Richard III. Fraulein Hellwege explained that she had “thrown in” the latter so that “the listeners might not be wearied with continually following a foreign language.” The Herald noted that “the nature of the entertainment of course had the effect of making the audience more select than it would have been under less trying circumstances, and the gentlemen were in a considerable minority.”


The readings included Schiller, Goethe, and Andersens Märchen, and the event lasted for two hours.