From out of the blue, an anonymous email that left me slightly weepy:
“I visited Billie Carleton’s grave today. Sad to say that although she knew many rich people, she has no stone. I left some flowers for her.”
I knew nothing of Billie’s life when I happened upon her photograph. I’d been on the lookout for an image to send along to my publisher that might be useful in the design of the book’s cover, and when I came across this winsome music hall actress I practically shouted with recognition – she looked exactly as I imagined Lucinda. Even the year was perfect: Like Any Other Monday is set in 1916/17.
Billie Carleton, 1916 (photo credit: Bassano)
But the similarities between Billie and the fictional Lucinda ended there.
Billie Carleton’s life was difficult from the start. She was born illegitimate and raised by a relative, left home at 15 and enjoyed moderate success as a stage and screen actress. She ran with the wrong crowd, and thanks to a drug overdose her life was tragically cut short in 1918 at the age of 22.
“Sad to say that although she knew many rich people, she has no stone. I left some flowers for her.”
It’s nice to know that nearly 100 years later, someone cared enough to leave Billie some flowers.
Book cover image by Wesley Bates
And I’m glad that in a small way her image is memorialized on the cover of my book.