Violet May Flynn

Family Life and Work Experience Before 1918

Source: Extract from interview with Violet May Flynn, C707/37/1-2, Thompson, P. and Lummis, T., Family Life and Work Experience Before 1918, 1870-1973 [computer file]. 7th Edition. Colchester, Essex: UK Data Archive [distributor], May 2009. SN: 2000,

Production: Arthur Conan Doyle, The Speckled Band, Oxford, 1910

Text: Q. And did you yourself as a child, did you ever get taken to a concert, or a cinema or a play?

A. No.

Q. Nothing like that?

A. Only one. My mother when we were in Bullingdon Road, I was in next door, I suppose, perhaps playing with the kids there or something. My mother had a ticket given her to go to the theatre, and she took me to see ‘The Speckled Band’.

Q. ‘The Speckled Band’, what was that, a play?

A. Yes. It was of a family and, um, I suppose there was a girl in the family perhaps they didn’t want her or something. For two or three nights she said she heard a band playing and saw something speckled, and there was a box and there was a snake cane out and it killed her, see. It was ‘The Speckled Band’, she heard the band and sthe speckled thing was the snake. I can see it now.

Q. Did you enjoy it?

A. It was horrifying. No I didn’t ‘cos I was quite young.

Q. It scared you did it?

A. Yes. Yes. ‘The Speckled Band’.

Comments: Violet May Flynn (1901-?) was one of six children of an Oxford working class family. Her father was a builder’s labourer; her mother was in service and later took in laundry. ‘The Speckled Band’ that made such an impression on her was a stage adaptation of the Sherlock Holmes short story ‘The Adventure of the Speckled Band‘. Arthur Conan Doyle adapted the story himself into a play in 1910. It opened at the Adelphi in London before going on tour in England. Flynn probably saw it in Oxford in December 1910. She was one of 444 people interviewed by Paul Thompson and his team as part of a study of the Edwardian era which resulted in Thompson’s book The Edwardians: The Remaking of British Society (London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1975).