Marriott Edgar (1880–1951), born George Marriott Edgar in Kirkcudbright, Scotland, was a poet, scriptwriter and comedian best known for writing many of the monologues performed by Stanley Holloway, particularly the 'Albert' series. In total he wrote sixteen monologues for Stanley Holloway, whilst Holloway himself wrote only five.
Edgar's parents were Jennifer née Taylor, a native of Dundee, and Richard Horatio Marriott Edgar (1847–1894), only son of Alice Marriott (1824–1900), proprietress of the Marriott family theatre troupe. Richard was born in Manchester, Lancashire, near Christmas 1847 as Richard Horatio Marriott; both his two sisters, Adeline Marriott (b. 1853) and Grace Marriott (b. 1858) were also born in Lancashire. Later all three children chose to take the surname of their mother's husband, Robert Edgar, whom she married in 1856.
Richard and Jenny married in March 1875, with Richard being unaware that he had fathered an illegitimate namesake son, Richard Horatio Edgar Wallace, with widowed actress Mrs Mary Jane "Polly" Richards, after a brief sexual encounter. Polly had invented an obligation in London to hide her pregnancy and give birth in secret on 1 April 1875, almost a month after Richard and Jenny married. This son became the famous journalist, novelist, playwright and screenplay writer Edgar Wallace.
Richard and Jenny Taylor's children were Alice Marriott Edgar (b. 1876, London), twins Richard and Jennifer Marriott Edgar (b. 1878, London), following which they relocated to Scotland, where George was born, then they returned to Southern England and London once more, having Joseph Marriott Edgar in 1884 and Adeline Alice Edgar in 1886, both in London.
Little is recorded of George Marriott Edgar's early career, but he was talented performer, poet and writer. His first real successes began after he had been in the cast of The Co-Optimists and worked with Stanley Holloway. They went to Hollywood at the start of the 1930s, Edgar having dropped his first name for his "professional" appellation of Marriott Edgar, and did meet his famous half-brother there.
Holloway was already enjoying some success with the monologue format, with such classics as Sam, Pick Oop Tha' Musket. Edgar asked him if he had heard a story about a couple who had taken their son to the zoo, only to see the lad eaten by a lion. Holloway had indeed heard the story, and shortly afterwards Edgar supplied him with a script. The Lion and Albert became one of Holloway's most popular pieces, one of many he recorded beginning in 1930. The lion of the poem is named "Wallace", which was the name of the first African lion to be bred in Britain, living from 1812 until 1838, and his name became a popular one for lions.
The monologues were designed to be spoken rhythmically, with piano accompaniment which in many cases was also composed by Edgar. The texts were published by Francis, Day & Hunter during the 1930s in three collections. All were illustrated by John Hassall, many of whose lively images also became classics. Edgar's compositions were
- Albert 'Arold and Others - performed by Stanley Holloway and Marriott Edgar
- The Lion and Albert: Albert swallowed by a lion in the menagerie of Blackpool Tower
- Runcorn Ferry (Tuppence per Person per Trip), set in Runcorn
- Three Ha'pence a Foot, featuring an argument with Noah
- The Battle of Hastings, an account of the Battle of Hastings
- Marksman Sam, featuring Stanley Holloway's creation Sam Small
- Albert and the 'Eadsman, set in the Tower of London
- The Return of Albert (Albert Comes Back), sequel to The Lion and Albert
- Goalkeeper Joe, set in Wigan
- Gunner Joe, at the Battle of Trafalgar
- The Jubilee Sov'rin, the awkward loss of a sovereign commemorating Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee
- The Magna Charter, the signing of Magna Carta
- Little Aggie, an elephant
- Albert and Balbus and Samuel Small - written and performed by Marriott Edgar
- Sam's Medal (not written by Edgar)
- The 'Ole in the Ark, a necessary repair to Noah's Ark
- Sam's Racehorse, an unfortunate purchase
- George and the Dragon, an unhelpful pub landlady
- The Recumbent Posture, a linguistic misunderstanding
- The Channel Swimmer, an attempt on the English Channel
- Asparagus, a cautionary tale
- Uppards, a Lancashire version of Longfellow's famous poem Excelsior
- Joe Ramsbottom, a farmer and the squire
- Burghers of Calais, retelling the story of the Burghers of Calais
- Balbus (The Great Wall of China), a fantasy based on the Latin text-book example: "Balbus built a wall"
- Jonah and the Grampus, the story of Jonah
- Normans and Saxons and Such - some Ancient History
- Canute the Great 1017–1035, about Cnut the Great
- William Rufus 1087–1100, about William II of England
- Queen Matilda 1100–1135, about Empress Matilda
- The Fair Rosamond 1154–1189, about Rosamund Clifford
- Richard Cœur-de-Lion 1189–1199, about Richard I of England
- Henry the Seventh 1485–1509, about Henry VII of England
The Lion and Albert and The Return of Albert have been translated into German under the titles Der Löwe und Albert and Albert kommt wieder, na klar! respectively.
Between 1936 and 1944 Edgar worked for Gainsborough Pictures as a scriptwriter for a number of British films, all comedies except The Ghost Train, such as
Marriage and family
- FreeBMD marriage record, June 1856
- Lane, Margaret (1939). Edgar Wallace; the Biography of a Phenomenon. The Book Club.
- Cary Ginell on Stanley Holloway at classicsonline.com
- Wallace the lion at ravishingbeasts.com
- for examples seeThe World of Stanley Holloway. Francis, Day & Hunter Ltd. 1972.
- FreeBMD marriage record, December 1904
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- All Marriott Edgar monologues with a preface for each one