Rosamund had suddenly remembered the Rainbow Book, and this was how it happened. She had been dreaming that Mother had come to her bedside to wish her good night, and then just as the dear, beautiful face had bent down to kiss her, she had wakened to find it was only a dream. For a few moments she lay crying softly in the darkness. It was so dreadful to remember that Mother could never again come to wish her good night, for she and Father had been lost when the ship that was bringing them home from India had been wrecked six months ago.
Foreword to the Eighteenth Edition (1942)
It is just thirty-five years ago since a mother nursed her young daughter back to health, after an unusually severe attack of measles, by telling her the most enchanting fairy stories — stories that couldn't be found in any books, but were both of a vivid imagination and a complete understanding of a child's mind, with its touching faith in the certainty of right conquering wrong and the belief that at the end of perilous and exciting adventures the hero and heroine overcome all difficulties and live happily ever after.
Mrs. Clifford Mills, for that was the mother's name, could not have foreseen that in thus unlocking the gate of fairyland for her small "Evelyn," she was performing the same office for millions of boys and girls through the ages wherever the ideals of the British race are honoured and loved.
Of all the stories her mother told her, Evelyn liked best the rainbow story, symbol of hope, with its magic carpet of faith and its noble hero in shining armour, St. George of England, ready now, as in olden time, to fight and conquer the dragon of evil. And so, on the advice of a young actor, Reginald Owen, who has since become well-known as a film star, Mrs. Clifford Mills was persuaded to turn her rainbow story into a play, and thus Where the Rainbow Ends was born.
Mr. Owen got the late Charles Hawtrey to read the MS.. and he was delighted with it and volunteered to produce it himself. Roger Quilter, a new and at that time an almost unknown composer, was commissioned to write the music and the Rainbow started off yet another artist on the road to fame. Up to then I had only appeared on the stage as an actress, but Mrs. Clifford Miffs' play gave me my first break as a trainer of child artists, as I supplied the forty children needed in the play and I arranged the dances and helped Charles Hawtrey produce the fairy scenes. Thus the Rainbow became the start of the Italia Conti acting and dancing children, who have since become famous all over the world. Amongst the children who passed along the Rainbow way were Noel Coward, who was the original bad page boy of the play, and Gertrude Lawrence, Anton Dolin, Freddie Bartholomew, Leslie Woodgate. Adele Dixon, Jane Baxter, Roma Beaumont, Jack Hawkins, Charles Hawtrey (the second), Reginald Purdell and many others. Mavis Yorke was the original Will-o'-the-Wisp. the most elusive and delicious sprite who ever "crept into an acorn cup."
Where the Rainbow Ends was first produced on December 21st, 1911, at the Savoy Theatre, London, with Reginald Owen, than a tall, handsome young man; as St. George of England.
It was a success from the first — play, music. and production. (Quilter's Rainbow — music has become known to the whole world through the medium of the B.B.C., who are constantly broadcasting it. The play has been revived in London every year for the last thirty-two years, and it has been toured throughout the provinces, everywhere meeting with great success. It has been seen by over four million people and is as great a favourite among grown-ups as among children. It has been acclaimed by the Press and by well-known representatives of Church and State and by educational and civic authorities, as being a play that has high value as propaganda — as it inculcates true patriotism among youth and it stimulates young people to be proud of their country's ideals and encourages them to become loyal and faithful citizens of our great Empire.
In 1932, when the Rainbow was twenty-one years old, the Rainbow League was formed. Mrs. Clifford Mills was one of its first official members, and there are now over twenty thousand members and associates. The League helps all organisations that deal with the activities of youth and also founds Rainbow beds in British hospitals. We have beds at the London Hospital, at Guy's, St. George's and Princess Elizabeth of York Hospital for Children, East. London, and also beds in the provinces, and during the war the League has helped the local war efforts in each town visited.
And all these activities sprang from Mrs. Clifford Mills' delightful fantasy. She herself passed over from this earthly plane a few years ago and is now in the land where the rainbow ends, "where all lost loved ones are found," and where ideals come true, but her memory and her play's message to youth will always be held dear wherever the English language is spoken. The Rainbow story of hope and faith that she first gave to her own little daughter has gone all over the world to live in the hearts of the children and deepen their love and understanding of what home and country meant — especially to the children of our Empire. who inherit the blessed gift of freedom.
We all wished Mrs. Clifford Mills could have been with us on the great day in Rainbow Land when our beloved Queen brought Princess Elizabeth to see the play at the Holborn Empire. Her spirit, 1 am sure, was with us all and with her daughter Evelyn (Mrs. Shillington), Who had the honour of being presented to Her Majesty and the young Princess. "Evelyn," I know, thought of her "mother," and her heart must have been full when the Queen and Princess said how much they liked the play.
It was an unforgettable moment when St. George spoke the epilogue and called for "The King" —— and the Queen and Princess rose with the audience and the actors and joined in singing the National Anthem with a Rainbow verse for children, that had been written specially for them. Here it is:
Children of Empire rise,
Print versions of the book
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