H. F. Maltby

Henry Francis Maltby (25 November 1880 25 October 1963) was a prolific writer for the London stage and British cinema from after the First World War, until the 1950s. He also appeared in many films.

Life and career

Born in Ceres, Cape Colony (later to be part of South Africa), Maltby was educated at Bedford School. He was married twice, to Billie Joyce and Norah M. Pickering. Maltby served in France, as a bombardier.[1]

Playwriting career

On his return to Britain, Maltby wrote and performed in many plays for the West End theatre, some achieving success and transferring to Broadway. He wrote The Rotters in 1915, but it took nearly a year to get it to the provincial stage. The play was a success and transferred to the Garrick Theatre in the West End, playing for 86 performances and toured for the next decade, also being made into a film. The theme is satirical, dealing with a dysfunctional family and their minor 'sins' revolving around the father's obsessive respectability. The play received a tepid review from The Times, which found it formulaic,[2] but it was popular with audiences. He also wrote an all-woman farce, Petticoats with women taking over the state (with the men away at war).[3]

By 1919, Maltby was working on collaborations in musical theatre, adapting the libretto of a French piece for Maggie (1919), with Fred Thompson. He began to turn out comedies at a rate of two a year, with his own works, such as For the Love of Mike being adapted by Clifford Grey and Sonny Miller into a musical.[4]

Film career

Maltby's film career began with the silent Profit and the Loss[5] in 1917. He also wrote and appeared in many films after 1933, including Powell and Pressburger's 1944 A Canterbury Tale[6] and the 1934 Freedom of the Seas. As a character actor of pompous individuals, he appeared in many of the Will Hay and Alfred Hitchcock films of the 1930s for Gainsborough Studios. He is listed in the cast of nearly sixty films, but rarely as the principal player. He is listed as scriptwriter on nearly 50 films, and in the 1930s, he also wrote screenplays for the Tod Slaughter series of melodramas.

In 1950, Maltby published his autobiography, Ring Up the Curtain. He died in Hove, Sussex, England at the age of 82.

Plays and musicals

  • The Rotters (1916; 1922)
  • Petticoats (1917)
  • Maggie (1919)
  • Such a Nice Young Man (1920)
  • The Right Age to Marry (1926)

  • Dear Old England (1930)
  • Just My Luck (1933)
  • For the Love of Mike (1933)
  • Grand Guignol Horror Plays - Something More Important (1935)
  • Jack O'Diamonds (1935)
  • Lilac Domino (1953 revision)

Selected filmography




  1. "Who's Who".
  2. "The Rotters", The Times, 31 July 1916, p. 9
  3. Williams, Gordon. British Theatre in the Great War: A Revaluation (2003) Continuum International ISBN 0-8264-7882-4
  4. The British Musical Theatre Kurt Gänzl (OUP, 1986) ISBN 0-19-520509-X
  5. Profit and the Loss (1917) at the Internet Movie Database
  6. A Canterbury Tale (1944) at the Internet Movie Database

Further reading

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