This site explores the family relations that lead to and follow from the pairing of Evelyn Grosvenor Bradley - a.k.a. "Rex Ryan" (actor and theatrical producer); "Noel Despard" (author); "R. R. Ryan" (author of Echo of a Curse, Freak Museum, etc.) - and the actress Annie Howard, the daughter of Zoe Beatrice Elsworthy Redgrave and Adderley Howard (see Alan Strachan's biography of Sir Michael Redgrave, Secret Dreams, for Zoe's connection to the Redgrave family).
Evelyn and Annie were the nexus for some truly Dickensian oddities of family history. Annie's birth certificate was amended by Zoe (with the assistance of Cecil Eden Little) long after Annie's birth, removing Adderley Howard as the father. One of Annie's daughters, Denice, grew up with close connections to one of England's oldest noble families, only to see the connection abruptly severed for reasons that remain obscure. Annie and Evelyn left their son Richard as a baby to be brought up by another couple (the Catons) in Fleetwood, Lancashire. Found in Richard Caton's papers after his death was a copy of the will of a member of the same noble family alluded to above.
Evelyn Bradley committed suicide in Hove in 1950: he gassed himself in the bathroom while - as the coroner tactfully notes - "the balance of his mind was disturbed." Annie died in 1970.
Update: 19 February, 2012 These pages are long overdue for a complete update, which we hope to do in the coming weeks. Meanwhile we would be very interested in hearing from anyone who knows about Arnold Grosvenor Bradley (EGB's brother). We believe he was active in Irish chess in the early part of the 20th century, and was a member of the Dublin chess club. On this web page there's a mention of an A.G. Bradley in 1913 - which would fit the time frame we know about. Also, in a letter written in 1953, his sister Nora writes "I have a large framed photo of the Dublin Chess Club with Arnold in the group and the President sitting down. It was presented to Arnold by the President for winning the 'Cup' for the club." We would love to hear from anyone who knows of such a picture.
Update: 16 May, 2009 With Chris Bradley's help we now have two more photographs of EGB, courtesy of Tony Bradley, who is Lancelot's son (see Update: 12 March below). One now has pride of place above, and you can see the other on the page about EGB.
Update: 12 March, 2009 The site has been up for two months and we have found another relative! Chris Bradley lives in New Zealand and is EGB's grandson from (as far as we know) his second marriage. EGB married Elizabeth Hornsby and they had a son, Peter (we have a wonderful photograph of Elizabeth and Peter). Chris is the son of Peter and Etna (sadly both now passed on). Not only have we discovered Chris, but it turns out that for a long time he and his mother have been in contact with the family of Lancelot Bradley, who we believe to be EGB's first son. We will be adding more about this line of EGB's family as we correspond with Chris and clarify things about which we only had the sketchiest knowledge two months ago. In the meantime, through Chris and Tony Bradley, we now also have an astonishing photograph of Nora, EGB's sister.
If you are reading this because you recognize any of these names and you know something about them or their children, do please get in touch: there's a lot we don't know.