J. E. Harold Terry

Joseph Edward Harold Terry (1885–1939) was an English novelist, playwright, actor and critic who was born in York. He was a nephew of the actor Eille Norwood. and a grandson of Sir Joseph Terry.[1] and became famous for writing two of the longest running plays of the First World War era, The Man Who Stayed at Home (1914) and General Post (1917), which both ran for more than 500 performances.

J. E. Harold Terry
Born(1885-09-21)21 September 1885
York, England
Died10 August 1939(1939-08-10) (aged 53)
Alma materPembroke College, Cambridge
  • comedy
  • spy
  • detective
  • drama
Notable works
SpouseConstance Leetham Terry
Children2 daughters, 2 sons

Early careerEdit

Trentholme House, York, was the family home where Terry was living when he wrote A Fool to Fame[2][3]

Terry was educated at Marlborough College and Pembroke College, Cambridge where he was stage-manager of the Footlights club.[4] While at Cambridge he was editor of The Granta but left in 1906 to take up a position with the Daily Mirror[5] before becoming a dramatic critic for The British Review and The Onlooker, for which he was also the editor. His first play Old Rowley, The King (1908) is believed to have been lost.[6] In September 1908 he became a Freeman of the City of York.[7]

Terry took a number of amateur acting roles in the years after leaving Cambridge,[8] most notably playing King Harold at the Battle of Stamford Bridge in the York Historic Pageant of 1909, a production that he had helped Louis N. Parker to write.[1] The Yorkshire Herald then commissioned Terry to write a serial story for the newspaper which was in 1912 published as the novel A Fool to Fame.[4] The novel was set in England during the period of the Commonwealth and Restoration and included an appendix of Terry's research.[9] Although this historical romance about the highwayman John Nevison received positive reviews[8][10] he would become best known for his patriotic wartime plays that emphasised the resourcefulness and courage of ordinary civilians and the impact of war on social conventions.[11] In 1914 Terry, who was by this time living in the Covent Garden area of London,[12] signed up with the Artists Rifles but he was invalided out soon afterwards.[1]

Wartime playsEdit

The Man Who Stayed at Home, a play written by Terry and Lechmere Worrall,[Note 1] was first performed in 1914 where it ran for 584 performances in London[11] and was regarded as being "the most popular spy play of the 1914–1915 season".[14] It was also performed on Broadway at the Comedy Theatre initially under the title The White Feather in early 1915 and then again in 1918 under the original title.[15] The plot follows a British agent in his efforts to uncover a group of German fifth columnists, a popular theme that played on the fears of the British public at the time[16] and was the subject of several classic works of the period, for example the spy novels of John Buchan.[17] In 1915 the first film adaptation of The Man Who Stayed at Home was released[18] along with a book version of play.[16] In June 1915 it became the first major war-themed drama to be performed in Melbourne, Australia[19] and when performed in New Zealand that August it was well received and attended by the Prime Minister William Massey.[20] This was soon followed by the Australian film Within Our Gates (1915), considered to have been heavily influenced by the play,[21] and another film version of the play released in 1919.[18]

These were followed by a film version of Terry's play General Post (1920)[18] the stage version of which ran from March 1917[22] for 586 performances at the Haymarket Theatre[23] and earned Terry commendation for being one of the first war dramatists to explore the social impact of war and the breakdown of class divisions,[24] pre-empting the exploration of these themes in John Galsworthy's The Foundations (1917)[22][25] Following on from his earlier work with Worrall, they wrote a sequel to The Man Who... in 1917, called The Man Who Went Abroad, although this proved to be less successful than the original.[23][26] Terry also wrote two other plays during the war, April Fools in 1915 and the musical Master Wayfarer which premiered at the London Apollo in December 1917 and featured songs by Arthur Scott Craven and music by Howard Carr.[27][28]

Later careerEdit

Terry was a member of both the Garrick Club and the Savage Club and between 1919 and 1922 was the Honorary Secretary of the Dramatists Club.[4] He had also moved to live in Northwood, Middlesex (now in London).[1] In 1921 Terry took to the stage again, acting in performances of his new play The Fulfilling of the Law[4] and in 1922 he worked with Rafael Sabatini to write The Rattlesnake, a play re-titled in America as The Carolinian, which Sabatini later re-wrote as a novel and dedicated it to Terry.[29] In 1923 he co-wrote the play The Return of Sherlock Holmes with Arthur Rose, a performance of which was attended by Arthur Conan Doyle, who praised both the writers and the lead performer Eille Norwood, who had by this time become famous for his portrayals of Holmes. The play ran for 130 performances at the Princes Theatre, London.[30][31]

In 1924 Terry wrote Collusion a play that was made into the film Midnight Lovers in 1926,[18][32] by which time Terry had moved to Luccombe Hill, Shanklin, on the Isle of Wight, where he lived with his wife and four children[4] until his death in 1939.[33] In 1915 he had married Constance Leetham Terry, one of the first women admitted to The Physiological Society.[34] Terry's final play was another collaborative effort in 1930, this time with Harry Tighe, with whom he translated a Dutch play, Dolly Hans by Jan Fabricus.[35] It was renamed Insult and successfully ran for over five months at the Apollo Theatre.[36] In 1935 Terry is listed in Who's Who as a director of Joseph Terry and Sons.[4]



  • A Fool to Fame (1912)


  • Old Rowley, the King (1908)
  • A King's Ransom (1911)
  • The Knight of the Garter (1913)
  • The Man Who Stayed at Home (a.k.a. The White Feather) (1914, with Lechmere Worrall) (Film – 1915,1919)
  • April Fools (1915)
  • The Man Who Went Abroad (1917)
  • General Post (1917) (Film – 1920)
  • Master Wayfarer (1917, with Arthur Scott Craven and Howard Carr)
  • The Fulfilling of the Law (1921)
  • The Rattlesnake (a.k.a. The Carolinian) (1922, with Rafael Sabatini)
  • The Return of Sherlock Holmes (1923, with Arthur Rose)
  • Collusion (1924) (Film – 1926 (Midnight Lovers))
  • Insult (1930, with Harry Tighe)


  1. ^ Pseudonym of Lechmere Worrall Clark (1875–1957)[13]


  1. ^ a b c d Parker, John, ed. (1922). Who's Who in the Theatre, 4th edition. Boston: Small, Maynard and Company. p. 789. Retrieved 14 July 2016.
  2. ^ "The Terry Trail" (PDF). dlhg.weebly.com. Retrieved 17 May 2019.
  3. ^ Terry, J. E. Harold (1912). A Fool to Fame (2nd ed.). London: John Long. p. 15.
  4. ^ a b c d e f Who's Who 1935. London: The Macmillan Company. 1935. p. 3278. Retrieved 14 July 2016.
  5. ^ Rice, F.A. (1924). The Granta And Its Contributors 1889 1914. London: Constable And Company Limited. p. 41. Retrieved 14 July 2016.
  6. ^ Nicoll, Allardyce (1973). English Drama, 1900–1930: The Beginnings of the Modern Period, Part 2 (reprint). Jones & Bartlett Learning. pp. 439, 984. ISBN 9780521129473. Retrieved 14 July 2016.
  7. ^ Malden, John, ed. (1989). Register of York Freemen 1680-1986. p. 508. ISBN 9781850720546.
  8. ^ a b Wilson, Van (2009). The Story of Terry's. York Oral History Society. p. 61. ISBN 978-0951365250.
  9. ^ No.4394. The Athenaeum. London. 13 January 1912. p. 43. Retrieved 17 May 2019 – via archive.org.
  10. ^ "The London-to-York Ride". The Register. National Library of Australia. 28 September 1912. p. 4. Retrieved 26 February 2017.
  11. ^ a b Luckhurst, Mary, ed. (2008). A Companion to Modern British and Irish Drama: 1880 – 2005. John Wiley & Sons. pp. 302–3. ISBN 9780470751473. Retrieved 14 July 2016.
  12. ^ "The London Gazette Issue 28659". www.thegazette.co.uk. 1 November 1912. p. 8060. Retrieved 17 July 2016.
  13. ^ "Stories, Listed by Author". The FictionMags Index. Retrieved 11 December 2017.
  14. ^ Maunder, Andrew (2015). British Theatre and the Great War 1914–1919. Palgrave Macmillan. p. 15. ISBN 9781137401991. Retrieved 14 July 2016.
  15. ^ Lachman, Marvin (2014). The Villainous Stage: Crime Plays on Broadway and in the West End. McFarland. p. 114. ISBN 9780786495344. Retrieved 14 July 2016.
  16. ^ a b "European Studies Blog: Is your governess really a spy?". britishlibrary.typepad.co.uk. British Library. 7 November 2014. Retrieved 14 July 2016.
  17. ^ "World War I Europe: Warfare: British, Irish and Australians (classics)". www.historicalnovels.info. Retrieved 14 July 2016.
  18. ^ a b c d Goble, Alan (1999). The Complete Index to Literary Sources in Film (reprint ed.). Walter de Gruyter. pp. 542, 775, 856. ISBN 9783110951943. Retrieved 14 July 2016.
  19. ^ Kumm, Elizabeth (2016). "Theatre in Melbourne, 1914–18: the best, the brightest and the latest" (PDF). La Trobe Journal. State Library Victoria. 97 (March 2016): 20. Retrieved 14 July 2016.
  20. ^ "The Man Who Stayed at Home:Dominion, Volume 8, Issue 2538". paperspast.natlib.govt.nz. 12 August 1915. p. 7. Retrieved 14 July 2016.
  21. ^ "Our Boys in Action". The Advertiser. Adelaide: National Library of Australia. 31 July 1915. p. 14. Retrieved 14 July 2016.
  22. ^ a b Parker, John, ed. (1922). Who's Who in the Theatre, 4th edition. Boston: Small, Maynard and Company. pp. 1046–7. Retrieved 14 July 2016.
  23. ^ a b Williams, Gordon (2015). British Theatre in the Great War: A Revaluation. Bloomsbury. p. Notes (92). ISBN 9781474278096. Retrieved 14 July 2016.
  24. ^ The Stage year book. London: London Carson & Comerford. 1918. p. 2. Retrieved 14 July 2016.
  25. ^ Nicoll, Allardyce (1973). English Drama, 1900–1930: The Beginnings of the Modern Period, Part 2 (reprint). Jones & Bartlett Learning. p. 439. ISBN 9780521129473. Retrieved 14 July 2016.
  26. ^ Parker, John, ed. (1922). Who's Who in the Theatre, 4th edition. Boston: Small, Maynard and Company. p. 887. Retrieved 14 July 2016.
  27. ^ "Master Wayfarer : a happening of long ago". catalog.hathitrust.org. Retrieved 14 July 2016.
  28. ^ "Master Wayfarer". The Maitland Daily Mercury. National Library of Australia. 8 September 1930. p. 3. Retrieved 26 February 2017.
  29. ^ "Titles and Dedications". www.rafaelsabatini.com. Retrieved 14 July 2016.
  30. ^ "The Return of Sherlock Holmes (play 1923–1924)". www.arthur-conan-doyle.com. Retrieved 14 July 2016.
  31. ^ Kabatchnik, Amnon (2008). Sherlock Holmes on the Stage: A Chronological Encyclopedia of Plays Featuring the Great Detective. Scarecrow Press. pp. 54–59. ISBN 9781461707226. Retrieved 14 July 2016.
  32. ^ The American Film Institute Catalog of Motion Pictures Produced in the United States, Issue 2. University of California Press. 1971. p. 510. ISBN 9780520209695. Retrieved 14 July 2016.
  33. ^ "The London Gazette Issue 34771". www.thegazette.co.uk. 12 January 1940. p. 258. Retrieved 17 July 2016.
  34. ^ "100 years of women members: The Society's centenary of women's admission" (PDF). www.physoc.org. Retrieved 14 July 2016.
  35. ^ Bordman, Gerald (1996). American Theatre: A Chronicle of Comedy and Drama, 1930–1969. USA: OUP. p. 6. ISBN 9780195090796. Retrieved 14 July 2016.
  36. ^ Schoonderwoerd O.P., N.H.G. (1963). "J. T. Grein, ambassador of the theatre, 1862–1935: a study in Anglo-Continental theatrical relations" (PDF). repository.ubn.ru.nl. Assen : Van Gorcum [etc.] p. 227. Retrieved 14 July 2016.

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