English Blood, Irish Heart
Truth is Stranger than Fiction
- Canadian born
- Sister of a homicidal maniac
- Salome dancer
- accused of being part of a German homosexual plot to sap British military strength
In 1900, in need of money, Allan is said to have illustrated an encyclopedia for women titled Illustriertes Konversations-Lexikon der Frau. Shortly thereafter, she began dancing professionally. Although athletic, and having great imagination, she had little formal dance training. She was once compared to professional dancer and legend Isadora Duncan, which greatly enraged her, as she disliked Duncan.
She designed and often sewed her own costumes, which were creative. In 1906 her production Vision of Salomé opened in Vienna. Based loosely on Oscar Wilde’s play, Salomé, her version of the Dance of the Seven Veils became famous (and to some notorious) and she was billed as “The Salomé Dancer”. Her book My Life and Dancing was published in 1908 and that year she toured England, with 250 performances in less than one year.
In 1910, she left Europe to travel. Over the next five years she visited the United States, Australia, Africa, and Asia. [1913 in Belfast] In 1915 she starred as “Demetra” in the silent film, The Rug Maker’s Daughter.
Theodore Durrant was born in Toronto, Canada to William Durrant, a shoemaker, and his wife Isabella Hutchenson Durrant. The family emigrated to San Francisco, California, USA in 1879.1 He had one sister, Beulah Maud Durrant, born in 1873, who became an actress and interpretive dancer and later changed her name to Maud Allan. At the time of his arrest, Durrant was a twenty-three-year-old medical student at Cooper Medical College in San Francisco, assistant superintendent of the Sunday school at the 21st Street Emanuel Baptist Church and a member of the California Signal Corps. It is believed that Theodore Durrant suffered from manic depression. Durrant was apparently noted for strange behavior; “For a year or so during the early eighteen-nineties Durrant visited the brothels in San Francisco’s Commercial Street several times a week. He always brought with him, in a sack or a small crate, a pigeon or a chicken, and at a certain time during the evening’s debauch he cut the bird’s throat and let the blood trickle over his body”.
On Saturday 13 April, the women of the church were decorating the church for Easter Sunday. One of the ladies went to a cabinet to get cups and when she opened the door she found a mutilated female body inside. The police were called and the body was identified as Minnie Williams. The church and grounds were searched for any clues and for Blanche Lamont, whom police now suspected to be there. Nothing was found until a church member remembered that they had not searched the belfry. Police went up into the belfry and found Blanche Lamont. She was badly mutilated and nude with her head wedged between two boards. Police immediately began a search for Theodore Durrant, who was the last one seen with both murdered women.
The Scandals of 1918
In 1918 the British MP Noel Pemberton Billing, in his own journal, Vigilante, published an article, “The Cult of the Clitoris” which implied that Allan, then appearing in her Vision of Salome, was a lesbian associate of German wartime conspirators.
Allan sued Billing for libel, based on the following counts:
- The act of publishing a defamatory article about Maud Allan and J. T. Grein, her impresario.
- The act, a separate offence, of including obscenities within the article.
This led to a sensational court case, at which Billing represented himself. Lord Alfred Douglas also testified in Billing’s favour. Allan lost the case. The trial became entangled in obscenity charges brought forth by the state against the performance given by Allan in her dance. She was accused of practising many of the sexually charged acts depicted (or implied) in Wilde’s writings herself, including necrophilia.
At this time, the Lord Chamberlain’s ban on public performances of Wilde’s play was still in place in England, and thus the Salomé dance was at risk. Her brother’s crimes were also dredged up to suggest there was a background of sexual insanity in her family.
From the 1920s on Allan taught dance and she lived with her secretary and lover, Verna Aldrich. She died in Los Angeles, California.
1918 is NOW! (1913)
1913: our M. Allan brings her show to staid, Protestanic Belfast. In a private performance that uses the forbidden script for Salome, filled out with lines obtained by clairvoyant seances conducted by a member of the Stoker-Wilde literary circle. The music is provided by Edith Craig, sets by her brother Edward Gordon Craig, both of them the illegitimate children of Helen Terry, Irving’s former acting partner. The money is being provided by Count Erick Stenbock [who does not die in our world].
Alfred Douglas, Wilde’s notorious lover, is making a rare public appearance to PROTEST the production of the play.
Why a decadent Germano-Eurotrash music/dance/drama private showing is happening in Belfast is a bit of a mystery. Get it. A mystery.