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Hugo Rumbold: Wikis


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Hugo Cecil Levinge Rumbold (1884 – 1932) was a British theatrical scenery and costume designer.


Life and career

Rumbold was the son of Sir Horace Rumbold, eighth baronet of Woodhall (1829–1913), and his second wife, Louisa Anne (d. 1940), daughter of Thomas Russell Crampton. His elder half-brother was the diplomat Sir Horace Rumbold, 9th Baronet of Woodhall.[1]

Rumbold went to Eton College in 1897. He served in World War I in the Grenadier Guards, when he was wounded and received the Order of the Crown (Belgium). In civilian life, he was sometimes referred to by his military title of Captain H.C.L. Rumbold.[2]


Stage design

Rumbold's costumes for Patience

As a stage designer, Rumbold's early work included "Pre-Raphaelite" sets and costumes for Faversham's Romeo and Juliet in 1913;[3] The Right to Kill a melodrama set in Turkey staged by Sir Herbert Beerbohm Tree at His Majesty's Theatre;[4] and Charles Villiers Stanford's opera The Critic (based on Sheridan's play of the same name) at the Shaftesbury Theatre in 1916, of which The Times said, "Mr Hugo Rumbold apparently carries the 18th century atmosphere about in his pocket."[5] He also designed L'Apres Midi d'un Faune in 1916.[6] For Sir Thomas Beecham, he designed revivals of La fille de Madame Angot, by Alexandre Charles Lecocq, and Mozart's Le Nozze di Figaro for the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane.[7]

After the war, Rumbold designed a revival of George Bernard Shaw's Arms and the Man at the Duke of York's Theatre in 1919,[8] and The Tempest for Viola Tree's company at the Aldwych Theatre in 1921, for which he undertook scenery as well as costume design.[9]

Rumbold was commissioned by Rupert D'Oyly Carte to dress a 1918 revival of Gilbert and Sullivan's Patience, in succession to W. S. Gilbert, who designed the original costumes, and Percy Anderson, who dressed the 1907 revival. Some of Rumbold's costumes (for the 'everyday young girls') were retained by the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company until Peter Goffin's new designs were introduced in 1957.[10]

Other theatrical work

In 1920 Rumbold acted as impresario, producing Darius Milhaud's new ballet, Le Bœuf sur le toit at the Coliseum Theatre, under the title The Nothing Doing Bar.[11] This departure from his milieu was noted in his obituary notice in The Times, which said: "He was essentially a Bohemian and a clubman, who was witty and amusing who always tried to pass on his zest for life to others.... Later, he took to film-producing. He was indeed something of a dilettante and dabbler in many pursuits. Had he been more of a 'sticker' he would have made more of a name for himself."[12]

With Zoe Akins, he wrote The Human Elephant, a play in three acts adapted from the short story of that title by Somerset Maugham.[13]

Personal life and death

Rumbold was a member of Noel Coward's set, with a penchant for cross-dressing in pursuit of comic turns at parties, according to Coward's biographer Philip Hoare.[14] In the last year of his life, he married the dramatist Zoe Akins, who is believed to have been bisexual.[15][16]

Rumbold died in Pasadena, California, in 1932, aged 48, from an illness caused by his injuries in World War I.[2]


  1. ^ Otte, T. G. "Rumbold, Sir Horace George Montagu, 9th Baronet (1869–1941)", Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press (2004), accessed 10 Nov 2007]
  2. ^ a b The Times, 21 November 1932, p. 19
  3. ^ "Hugo Rumbold Attacks Realism in Stage Scenery; Thinks Belasco and Tree Are Wrong; - "Blatant Realism" in Setting and Decoration Declared to Detract from Acting". The New York Times: p. SM9. December 21, 1913. Retrieved 2008-08-09.  
  4. ^ The Times, 5 May 1915, p. 13
  5. ^ The Times, 13 January 1916; p. 11
  6. ^ Profile of Claud Lovat Fraser
  7. ^ The Times, 30 June 1919, p. 10
  8. ^ The Times, 12 December 1919, p. 12
  9. ^ The Times, 2 February 1921, p. 8
  10. ^ Rollins, Cyril and R. John Witts. The D'Oyly Carte Opera Company in Gilbert and Sullivan Operas (1961), London: Michael Joseph Ltd.
  11. ^ The Times, Monday, 12 July 1920, p. 12
  12. ^ The Times, 25 November 1932, p. 19
  13. ^ List of manuscripts at New York Public Library
  14. ^ Hoare, Philip: Noel Coward (1995), p. 107, Sinclair-Stevenson: London ISBN 1-85619-265-2
  15. ^ "Zoe Akins to be Wed to Hugo Rumbold", The New York Times, March 8, 1932
  16. ^ Porter, p. 105


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