Blue plaques are placed on buildings by English Heritage or by local councils to commemorate the famous people who lived or worked in those properties. Last year we wrote about five blue plaques in South London and here we give you five more and the stories behind them. This famous five includes a painter, a footballer, a scientist, an actor/director and a writer.
Vincent Van Gogh
One of the most famous people to have lived in South London, the 20-year-old Van Gogh took lodgings in Brixton in 1873 with Ursula Loyer and her daughter Eugenie. Working for an art dealer in central London, Vincent fell in love with Eugenie, but it was a love unrequited as she was already engaged. A drawing of the house at Hackford Rd by Van Gogh was discovered in 1973 at the home of a descendant of the Loyer family in Devon. The drawing was exhibited in the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam for many years but now returned to the family.
Edgar Kail wore the famous pink and navy blue kit of Dulwich Hamlet FC for 14 seasons after WW1 and was the last non-league player (not ‘amateur’ as the plaque on the stand at Champion Hill says) to play for England. He remains the top scorer for Dulwich with 427 goals and helped the club to numerous trophies, including the FA Amateur Cup in 1920 and 1932. The fans still sing a song about him to this day,
“Edgar Kail in my heart keep me Dulwich”.
Born and raised near Elephant & Castle, Faraday is primarily known for discovering electro-magnetic induction, paving the way for the development of the electric motor and the harnessing of electricity for everyday use. Largely self-educated from his time as an apprentice at a bookseller, he was also a pioneer in chemistry, developing the laws of electrolysis. He is one of our Top Five South Londoners for having things named after him.
Born Samuel Watenmaker in Chicago, this actor and director is best known in this country for his efforts in getting Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre rebuilt on Bankside. Without him, the Globe would not exist today; his plaque is on the front wall of the theatre. He was a Hollywood actor in the post-war years but was blacklisted for his previous membership of the Communist Party in the McCarthy investigations of the 1950s. He emigrated to Britain to continue his acting and directing career and has a huge list of film, TV and directing credits including ‘Private Benjamin’ and ‘Superman IV’. One of his daughters, Zoe Wanamaker, is also well-known for her acting career.
Cecil Scott Forester (real name Cecil Louis Troughton Smith) was a novelist, most famous for ‘The African Queen’, written in 1935 and later made into a Hollywood film directed by John Huston and starring Humphrey Bogart and Katherine Hepburn. Bogart won the Oscar for Best Actor in 1952 for his performance. Forester also wrote the ‘Horatio Hornblower’ series of novels, which were adapted for a film starring Gregory Peck in 1951 and an ITV series which ran from 1998-2003.