Victor William Prout
Artist, Photographer, Actor, Hepworth Film Star (1862-1950)
William Prout was a very successful engraver and illustrator. Around the turn of
the century (1900) he was contributing to:
- The Royal Magazine
- Pearson's Magazine
- The Strand.
He is credited with illustrating 22 books.
He also appeared in a number of films, some of them produced by Hepworth:
His great grandson is
Richard Bielby who
would like to know more, especially if any films survive. His granddaughter Hazel Bielby
has been in touch with Hepworthfilm.org, to relate:
I have been forwarded an e-mail from you in answer to my
son, Richard, who was asking about my grandfather, Victor William Prout, and his
connection with Hepworth films. The problem is the lack of photographs of him
for the family archives. I have one of him as a baby and the next one is of him
in a boat with my grandmother aged about 60. That is why we were trying to
track down any of the films he may have appeared in.
All the stories we have heard are anecdotal and rather
amusing. I am sure he helped in the artistic side of the productions and we always heard stories that he was a bit of a joker, especially when working as an
"extra". We were told that in one scene he rushed in to a monastery and for
want of something to say cried out - "Oh dear! They've drunk all the beer!"
Everyone fell about and the scene had to be reshot. I then understood that they
gave him some actual lines to say to avoid any more mirth and instead of saying
"I hear the tramp of approaching footsteps" he said "I hear the footsteps of
approaching tramps!" I don't know if this would give a clue to any of the films
Alma Taylor "adjusts" a picture by Victor William
Prout: Source: hepworthfilm.org
Image contributed by Hazel Bielby
Apart from this, I have a photo of
Alma Taylor featuring a work of art by Victor
Prout used in a film. [Because it was Alma, presumably this would be a
Hepworth film]. [THANK YOU to Hazel Bielby for scanning
and sending it. Looking at the lighting, this shot is clearly set up to feature
Alma, since the picture is in the shade! It's likely this would have been taken
by CMH himself since he specialised in photographic portraiture of this kind.]
I don't know which film, if any, it
might have been for. But, again, through hearsay, I was told my Grandfather
taught her how to hold the brush [ he was an artist ] and the 2 little girls in
the painting, presumably done by him, were of my mother [mother of Hazel Bielby] and her younger sister
as children. It would be very interesting to learn which film this pictures was
used for - none of the film titles seems to indicate anything applicable.
William Prout was born in Marylebone, London, on 25 August 1862, the son
of Victor Albert Prout (a photographer) and Amy Sarah Prout (1833-1904),
the daughter of William Thomas & Jane Barber, who had married in St.
Pancras in 1860. He was Christened on 2 November 1862 at St. Mary, St.
I can find no trace of the family in the 1871 census and I believe
that the family was then living in Australia as I have found
about photographer Oliver Godfrey which mentions that Godfrey's father,
John Godfrey had engraved a number of plates for a book entitled
Australia by Edwin Carton
Booth, published in c.1874.
"Artist John Skinner Prout's work also appeared in that book ... The
Prout family included several highly regarded photographers including
Victor Prout who travelled out from England and became a partner of the
Freeman Brothers in a studio [in] Sydney in 1866." Victor would appear
to have become well known for his photographs of Sydney Harbour and for
photographs taken on a soujourn to Tasmania in the late 1860s. It would
also seem that Victor Prout was related to
Prout (1805-1876, see also
It is not known when the family returned to the UK, but I have found
that Victor Prout senior died in 1877 at Lewes, Sussex, aged only 40.
In 1881, aged 18, his son was living in Westminster with Thomas Bolton,
described as his step-father who, at age 57, is an engraver in wood.
Victor is also described as an engraver in wood. In 1891, he and his
mother are living with 79-year-old Jane Bolton, who is (according to the
census), mother of Amy and grand-mother of Victor. This may simply be a
convenience as it seems more likely that Amy was married to Thomas and
Jane was probably her mother-in-law. (An area that will require some
more checking at some point.)
Victor was married to Isabel Knaggs (the daughter of a doctor) at the
Register Office, St. Pancras, on 15 October 1896 and, by 1901, they had
a daughter, Eleanor.
It would seem that Victor Prout was a very successful engraver and
illustrator. Around the turn of the century, he was contributing to
The Royal Magazine,
Pearson's Magazine and
Victor Prout was living at 187 Camden Road, N.W.1 from at least 1936
until 1950, although his death is registered in Canterbury in 1950,
where he died aged 87.
Two Knapsacks in the channel Islands
by Jasper Branthwaite. London, Jarrold & Sons, 1897.
The Making of Teddy by Eva
Jameson. London, Religious Tract Society, 1903.
El Dorado by Robert Cromie.
London, Ward, Lock & Co., 1904.
The Red Eric or The Whaler's Last
Cruise by R. M. Ballantyne. Ward, Lock & Co., 1904.
When Daddie's Ship Comes In by
Beatrice M. Purser. London, Religious Tract Society, 1904.
A Houseful of Girls by Mrs.
George de Horne Vaizey. London, Religioius Tract Society, c.1905.
Kenelm Chillingly by Lord
Lytton. London, Collins' Clear-Type Press, c.1905.
The Holy War Made by Shaddai upon
Diabolus by John Bunyan. London, Religious Tract Society, 19o7.
The Fighting Line by David
Lyall. London, Religious Tract Society, 1908.
Jessica's Mother by Hesba
Stretton. London, Religious Tract Society, 1908.
A Girl's Stronghold by Eliza
Pollard. London, S. W. Partridge, 1909.
The Fitzgerald Family by M. S.
Madden. London, Religious Tract Society, 1910.
Harry Escome by Harry
Collingwood. London, Blackie & Son, 1910.
Kiddie; or, The Shining Way by
Amy Whipple. London, Religious Tract Society, 1910.
Margaret; or, The Hidden Treasure
by N.F.P.K. London, Religious Tract Society, 1910.
Ursula Tempest by Evelyn
Everett-Green. London, Religious Tract Society, 1910.
Brave Sidney Somers; or, The Voyage of
the "Eastern Adventurer" by Frank Holmes. London, Blackie & Son,
A Girl from Canada by Edith C.
Kenyon. London, Religious Tract Society, 1911.
Aunt Patience. A story for girls
by Evelyn Everett-Green. London, Religious Tract Society, 1912.
Barney Boy by Laura Anna
Barter. London, S. W. Partridge, 1912.
The Crew of the Rectory by M.
B. Manwell. London, S. W. Partridge, 1912.
Night and Morning by Lord
Lytton. London & Glasgow, Collins' Clear-Type press, 1913.