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 Miss Viola Clemmons and the White Lily Company in England & Wales, 1891-92 


The battle being over Wounded Knee feigned death, and after waiting some hours crawled painfully a distance of no less than fifteen miles. In the course of his feat of fortitude the young warrior again showed his cunning. He was surprised by soldiers, and in order to make more complete the semblance of death he struck his nose violently with a stone, causing it to bleed, and lay prone in the snow until the soldiers had passed. With the end of this story came the cry of the call boy, and the Indians sprang from their benches and trooped down to the stage.

- Nottingham Daily Express, 29th September 1891


White Lily Programme, Grand Theatre, Nottingham

The American actress Katherine Viola Clemmons toured the provincial theatres of England and Wales for four months during 1891-92 with The White Lily, a pioneering production in the evolution of the Western genre.

Violaís dramatic career, although ultimately a monumental failure, could not have been accomplished at all without the patronage and comprehensive backing of Colonel W. F. ĎBuffalo Billí Cody, who was simultaneously engaged on a tour of Great Britain with his Wild West show. The most compelling element in this dramatic spectacular was a band of ten authentic Lakota Indians, whose recruitment from Pine Ridge Reservation, South Dakota, he facilitated.

The White Lily, generally ignored by Cody scholars until now, emerges as no mere foot-note but rather an indispensable component of Buffalo Billís momentous 1891Ė92 season, in which several key figures from the previous winterís turbulent events were core participants. Recently rediscovered press coverage and other archive sources cast considerable light upon the at times harrowing personal experiences of the Lakota performers, as well as upon Buffalo Billís own movements during this time and the precise truth behind his entanglement with Viola.

In the process, the tragic train of events which had culminated in the previous Decemberís infamous slaughter at Wounded Knee was shamelessly rebranded and placed before the British public in outrageously mendacious fashion, as the entertainment sensation of the age.

Book

White Lily Company, Dates and Venues


Buffalo Billís Wild West in England & Wales