The long and the short of it…

Well, I’m not quite sure what to make of this. I found it while going through some old photographs and bits of paper that once belonged to my mother. Dating back to the 1920s or ’30s, it appears to be a booklet of sorts that was probably given away or sold at shows put on by Fred Roper and “his” midgets.  Or perhaps it was sold in news agents and bookstores, although there’s no price on it.

I’ve not been able to find any reference to the show coming to South Africa, but being a British colony in those far-off days it’s quite possible the show did do a tour in these parts. While searching for more info I came across some old footage at the British Pathe website. Below are a few more pages from the publication.

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  1. Hi
    I am also trying to find out more about a my Granddad, John Tweedlie, who I believe worked with Fred Roper at one point. I have found a picture of Fred Roper with a John Tweedlie McPherson. His brother, Bill went to America in 1929 with John Lester’s after they finished their run in Blackpool. He married Mary Finn, also in the troupe and perfomed under the name Princess Mignonette. Bill and Mary got married in 1959 and they performed as Desta and Maxie.
    I wondered if there is more of the book that we can see?

    Kind regards

  2. We are related to Mademoiselle Elsie Lewis, who was part of the troupe and a good friend of Edith Rollason. Elsie later married Fred in Florida. We also have a copy of this booklet. Got quite a bit of history about Fred & the Wonder Midgets. Hope this helps

    1. Thank you very much for your comment, Margaret. It’s wonderful when relatives come forward and leave comments…in some way it seems to connect what could be nothing more than a mere curiosity with living, breathing history. I’m amazed to think that when I put up this post the booklet was to me just a relic from the past, and now at least three relatives of people in that booklet have contacted me! The Internet never ceases to surprise.

  3. My late aunt, Edith Rollason, was the “Little Lady Godiva” in the booklet. Born and brought up in Coventry, one of eight children, (the only one of restricted height) she travelled widely with Fred Roper, and I have a postcard she sent to the family from South Africa.

    1. A wonderful story, Lorna. Thanks so much for posting. I hope more relatives will find this blog post and add to the stories. Who knows what it could lead to?

  4. Hi there – I’m related to one of Fred Ropers Wonder Midgets and am trying to find out a bit more. Is there anyway I could see more of this booklet? Eg I’d be interested in buying it! Many thanks for posting it here. Regards, Jon McLeod

    1. This is totally amazing, Jon! I never imagined when I published this post that I’d ever be contacted by a relative of someone who was actually in the show! I did find a Wikipedia article which mentioned tours to the ‘States, Canada, Australia and a couple of other places, but not, as I recall, South Africa. So I’m not 100% certain how this book came to be among my Mom’s things. I’ll e-mail you about the booklet when I have a moment.

      1. It has been hard to find much information about Fred Roper over the years except for a few postcards from fairs over the years. Do you know where he died and when? H e is blood relative in that he was my great great uncle.

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