Caricature of Ernest Thesiger and Sybil Thorndike in St Joan

Caricature of Ernest Thesiger and Sybil Thorndike in St Joan

This cartoon appeared in The Saturday Review in 1924 as part of a theatrical series of 'dramatis personae' (literally meaning people of the drama, but used to refer to the cast of characters in a play).

Sybil Thorndike was one of the most versatile of 20th century actresses. She began her career with Annie Horniman's company in Manchester, before joining the Old Vic company in 1914. There she helped to establish the theatre's name as the home of Shakespeare, and proved herself adept in both classical and modern, tragic and comic roles, even some men's parts: she played an acclaimed Fool in King Lear.

In 1924, she created the title role in George Bernard Shaw's Saint Joan at the New Theatre. Critics hailed the play as 'a momentous achievement' with a simplicity that is 'the simplicity of supreme genius', and Thorndike's performance as 'stupendous'. The Daily Mail thought her depiction of the girl inspired by religious visions to lead the French army 'one of the great performances of our time'.