Sutton Vane

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Sutton Vane is the stage name used by two actor/playwrights, father and son. The elder Sutton Vane spent some time in South Africa as an assistant to and biographer of Disney Roebuck.

Sutton Vane Snr (1847–1913)

Sutton Vane Snr was a British actor, playwright, stage and theatre manager, biographer, active in South Africa during the 1870s and 1880s. Usually billed or credited as Sutton Vane, Vane on occasion also used the pseudonym Vane Bennett for his publications, notably his 1885 biography of Disney Roebuck.


Born Frank Sutton-Vane in 1847,

He was brought out to South Africa in 1875 by Disney Roebuck, where he seems to have worked for Roebuck in a variety of capacities till the latter's death in 1885, whereafter he returned to Britain to continue his career.

Over the course of his career Vane Sr wrote a number of melodramatic plays, including Martin's Secret, Straight from the Heart, In Sight of St. Paul's , Humanity, The Cotton King and The Span of Life. The latter two works were filmed in the beginning years of the twentieth century, with scenarios by Vane.

Vane also adapted a number of novels for the stage, notably three by Wilkie Collins (The Woman in White, The New Magdalen and The Frozen Deep (under the title Adrift).

Vane passed away in 1913.

Contribution to SA theatre, film, media and/or performance

While in South Africa he seems to have worked for Roebuck in a variety of capacities till the latter's death in 1885.

In 1875 he became stage manager for the revamped Oddfellows Hall, which Roebuck now dubbed the Bijou Theatre, working on some 140 plays there in the first season.

As an actor, his performances included two character sketches, Christopher Colly-wobble and The Old Cane Chair, presented as afterpieces to Trip to the Rhine in the Athenaeum Hall, Cape Town, on 16 August, 1878. He also appeared in plays such as Our Carpet Bag and Handy Andy (on 8 August, 1878, with the Colonial Amateur Minstrels),

A number of his stage adaptations were done by the company in this period, including Adrift and The New Magdalen.

Om 1885 he became Roebuck's biographer, publishing a Biographical and Memorial Sketch of Francis Algernon Disney Roebuck, Late Capt. 23rd Royal Welsh Fusiliers under the pseudonym Vane Bennett.

Sutton Vane Jr (1888–1963)[1]


Born Vane Hunt Sutton-Vane in England in 1888, he was the eldest son of author and playwright Frank Sutton-Vane (1847–1913). His name also appears as Vane Hunt Sutton-Vane, V.H. Sutton Vane or V.H. Sutton-Vane

He is perhaps best known for the play Outward Bound (1923).

For the life and work of Sutton Vane Jr, see for example the entry in Wikipedia[2].


F.C.L. Bosman. 1980. Drama en Toneel in Suid-Afrika, Deel II, 1856-1916. Pretoria: J.L. van Schaik: pp. 316-384

Jill Fletcher. 1994. The Story of Theatre in South Africa: A Guide to its History from 1780-1930. Cape Town: Vlaeberg: p.

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