Enid Lorimer

Enid Lorimer (1888-1982), actress, was born in London into a reasonably comfortable family, the elder of two girls. Interviewed in her old age, she said that Lorimer was a stage name, and that her real name was May Enid Bosworth Nunn. She went to a boarding school in Folkestone and then a finishing school in Switzerland. She believed that she rebelled against the rigid hypocrisy of the Victorian class system while still a young child, objecting to a prohibition on her as a gentleman's daughter from having a merchant's daughter for a friend. She left home in 1913 to join Herbert Tree's theatre, after a disagreement with her parents about her choice of acting as a career. From there she went to Lawrence Irving's company where she met and married a fellow actor after a whirlwind courtship. Her husband volunteered for the war, and was killed.

Enid came to Australia through her connection with theosophy, as a travelling lecturer, on behalf of the Krishnamurti. She decided to stay in Australia. As well as theosophy, she taught speech, diction and dramatics at the 'Garden School' run by theosophists in suburban Sydney. Among her notable pupils were the singer Joan Hammond and actor Peter Finch. The school shared premises with radio 2GB and when programming error left a fifteen minute gap to be filled, Enid's drama class performed the play they had been rehearsing; it may well have been Australia's first radio play.

Radio developed into a strong medium for drama in Australia: several commercial stations competed with serials, four hours a day four days a week. Commercial and national stations also offered serious drama, classical and modern. Enid returned to professional acting on radio. Her actors' club negotiated terms with J. C. Williamson. She became a member of Actors' Equity, and served some years on its Ethics Committee during the late 1940s when it was consolidating its power and imposing restrictions on use of imported talent.

During a stay in London in the 1950s she joined Lawrence Olivier's National Theatre, worked for the BBC in television, winning an award for best television actress of the year (in 'Corinth House' by Pamela Hansford Johnson). She returned to Sydney when television started in Australia. Although she had been an enthusiast for the 'little theatre' stage drama movement in the 1930s, she declared she preferred film and television acting to the stage. Her face became very familiar to viewers of television as she appeared in grandmotherly roles in many dramas and series. She modestly attributed some of her success to the parts she played, saying when a writer took the trouble to write a part for an old person, it was usually a very good one.

Her last public appearance was in a wheelchair at the Australian Film and Television Awards in 1981 when she was presented with the Chips Rafferty Memorial Award for her contribution to the industry. She died on 15 July 1982

Susan Hogan

Enid Lorimer, Australia Council archive film 1979.