Edwin Rousby


The travelling exhibitor Edwin Rousby was one of many early purchasers of Robert Paul's Theatrograph projector to take to the road in 1896 and make that apparatus the most widely used motion picture machine in the world next to the Lumière Cinématographe. By the end of August, 1896, the English machine had opened in France, Portugal, South Africa, Sweden, Italy, Spain, and Australia, as well as throughout the United Kingdom; by the same date the Edison/ Armat Vitascope had begun to be used widely in the United States and had just reached neighbouring Canada. Rousby, who is usually described as a Hungarian electrician, but who may have been an American, opened his Theatrograph at the Circus Parish in Madrid, on 7 April, and began a tour of the Iberian penninsula that would take him to Lisbon (18 June), Porto (17 July), Espinho (12 August), Figuera da Foz (15 August) and other cities and towns. Returning to Lisbon on 27 August 1896, Rousby presented a special programme of 'Portuguese Views' photographed by Henry Short for Paul, which would be exhibited in London from 22 October as A Tour in Spain and Portugal. Throughout this Iberian odyssey, Rousby continued to obtain new films from Paul in London, repeating the pattern so well known from various Lumière operators, and on his last appearance in Lisbon gave 143 performances of sixty-seven different films through 15 January 1897.

Deac Rossell