Vesta Tilley forms one of the most fascinating elements of Worcester’s Social History. Born in Worcester in 1864 Matilda Alice Powles in the humble surroundings of the Blockhouse and 1 of 13 children she was performing publicly at the age of 4 and “The Great Little Tilley” was born. As she grew, male impersonation became the focus of her routines and Vesta Tilley became a household name.
Adored by her fans she was known as “The London Idol” “The Irving of the Stage” and commanded the highest salary of any Music Hall Entertainer on both sides of the Atlantic. She rallied the troops during WWI. Young men joined in their hundreds as they left her performances.
She retired in 1920 at the London Coliseum where she was presented with “The Peoples Tribute” books, filled with signatures of her countless fans. Many cites have claimed Vesta, but she is truly Worcester’s great rags to riches story.
Her costume, ephemera and The Peoples Tribute are now kept with Worcester City/Worcestershire County Museums and Worcestershire Record Office.
Help ensure Worcester remembers Vesta Tilley: www.vestatilleysociety.net