St. Pierre, Paul Matthew
About the author: Paul Matthew St. Pierre is Associate Professor of English at Simon Fraser University, Vancouver, where he specializes in performance studies and postcolonial literature. He is the author of scholarly articles on Patrick White, Martin Boyd, Malcolm Lowry and British music hall, and the forthcoming book A Portrait of the Artist as Australian: L’Oeuvre bizarre de Barry Humphries (Montreal: McGill-Queen’s UP).2003 0-7734-6656-8
This is the first book, scholarly or popular, on Elsie and Doris Waters, the most successful female double-act in the history of British music hall and variety. They distinguished themselves in the male-dominated field and in the movement of female artists who, after WWI, elected not to marry, the better to pursue their careers. Elsie and Doris Waters wrote almost all their own comic songs and sketches, created an original gynocentric comedy, anticipating feminist movements, controlled their means of production in the male-dominated British stage, radio, and recording industries, and performed together in Britain and around the Commonwealth for half a century. This study shows them to be precursors of contemporary female double-acts and patter-based comedians such as French and Saunders, Flanders and Swann, Beyond the Fringe, and Monty Python’s Flying Circus. The study also contains fifty transcribed songs and sketches, their original compositions and arrangements, from recordings on 78rpm gramophone records made between 1929 and 1944. The words to their entire oeuvre of songs and sketches have never before been available in print.