Hugo’s Toy Theatre

News Page


Issue 1 - 2nd June 2004


Welcome to this the first news bulletin for “Hugo’s Toy Theatre”.


With the help of a few kind collaborators I have been able to acquire a reasonable amount of old John Kilby Green’s works and set up this web-site. More is on the way and I hope to create as complete a record of JK Green’s works as is practically possible.


JK Green was my 3x Great Grandfather. I had known of his existence in my family tree for many years, but all I knew of him was that he was an “historical engraver”, the occupation given for JK Green on the 1851 Census (at Thurlow Place, East Street, Walworth).


 It was while searching for Thurlow Place on the Internet, that I stumbled across Conrad Blady’s excellent web-site dedicated to Guy Fawkes.  I found a reference, which quoted “Thurlow Place”. I viewed it and I found a transcript of a “New Verse for Guy Fawkes”. A search around the rest of the site found the complete transcript for the play “Harlequin & Guy Fawkes” as printed by JK Green. It also mentioned that JK Green was the “Original Inventor”. I had actually found someone in my family history that had achieved some form of notoriety. Someone who wasn’t an “Ag-Lab” or even just a plain “Lab”! Within a few days I had learnt more about JK Green than I knew about nearly all my other ancestors put together. He is mentioned in virtually every history given on the subject of the Toy Theatre. AE Wilson dedicated a whole chapter to the “Original Inventor” in his book “A Penny Plain and Twopence Coloured” (1932).


My grandmother and JK Green’s great granddaughter, Ivy Amy Green, never mentioned anything on the subject of the Toy Theatre, so I can only imagine she never knew. The Green’s had always been in the printing business. Ivy’s father Charles Frederick Green had been a printer’s machine minder. His father, George James Green ran a stationers shop on Rodney Road, Walworth and had been a copper-plate printer in his earlier years. But nothing was known of JK Green, except what I had discovered on the 1851 Census.


My grandmother had always told me that her grandmother Green had been on the stage, but I had always treated this with caution. But it now appears to be far more likely. Imagine a young George James Green going with his father to see the latest theatre production. We know from the writings about JK Green that he often visited back stage and he would most certainly have taken his enthusiastic son with him. How likely was it then that he should meet a young lady on the stage. When we put this together with George’s wife’s (Jessie Emma Reynolds) whereabouts prior to their marriage we can be almost certain this is the truth. Jessie Reynolds was born in Vere Street just off the Strand in 1840 and lived in the Strand area until her late teens. Was she on the stage? I think so, but I will search the archives to make sure.


My grandmother died in 1997 and my father (Malcolm Brown) a year earlier. Both had lived in the Walworth area for a great deal of their lives and it would have pleased them to know that at least one of their ancestors had achieved a little history of their own.


It was doubling pleasing to me, as although I had never actually owned a toy theatre, I had always liked them. Whenever I watched “The Railway Children” I always looked forward to the part where Jim (the “hound” who broke his leg) was entertained by the three children using a Schreiber Toy Theatre. I think deep down I always wanted one. Now I have several, plus much more.



Hugo Brown

3x Great Grandson of JK Green.