Charlie Chaplin – Born in London on 16 April 1889 – The British Newspaper Archive Blog


Charlie Chaplin – Born in London on 16 April 1889

‘Oh, the sun shines bright on Charlie Chaplin’

Charles Spencer ‘Charlie’ Chaplin, ‘the Little Fella’, was reportedly born in East Street, Walworth, South London, on 16 April 1889 – interestingly, there is no official document recording his birth.

We’re MASSIVE Chaplin fans at the BNA, and love reading stories about him in the Archive. So to celebrate the date of his birth, here are three online newspaper clippings.

We think that the first clipping is a music hall advert for Charlie’s father, Charles Chaplin Senior, whom Charlie followed on to the stage.

The second story is a review of ‘The Kid’, which also mentions Charlie insuring (third party fire and theft) his famous boots for £10,000 – that would be around £212,000 in today’s terms.

The third story is an excerpt from a very long newspaper article written by Fred Karno in 1931, in which he decribes Charlie’s meteoric rise from music hall peformer to global star of ‘the silver screen’, and probably the most famous man in the world at that time (although when Charlie met Gandhi, Gandhi said he had never heard of Chaplin before…hmm, could be Gandhi was joking – there are stories about this famous meeting in the Archive).

From a social history viewpoint, it’s very interesting to see the wages that Chaplin received while working in the music hall for Karno.

On a personal note, my grandmother met Chaplin in Dundee (and got his autograph), when he was demonstrating his roller-skating skills at the old skating rink in Shore Terrace (i.e. the old bus terminus). It seems that Charle employed his brilliant roller-blading skills (check out the wonderful roller-skating scene in ‘Modern Times’) to promote the Karno Troupe.

The Era – Saturday 22 September 1900


Nottingham Evening Post – Tuesday 01 March 1921

Image © Northcliffe Media Limited. Image created courtesy of THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD.

Evening Telegraph – Monday 23 February 1931

Image © D.C.Thomson & Co. Ltd. Image created courtesy of THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD.


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