It may seem odd that we are including Annie Lipman as one of Gracie’s friends. But she and Gracie were close long before Annie became Archie Pitt’s mistress. I wonder just when that line was crossed exactly ?
Annie came into Gracie’s life when she joined the cast of ‘Mr. Tower of London’ as the companies conductor, (morphing at some point into Archie’s ‘secretary’). Gracie describing her as her ‘best friend’ at one point.
Annie Rachel Lipman was the daughter of Hyman and Phoebe Lipman, Polish/ Russian Jews who arrived in Leeds sometime after 1881. Annie was born in 1891, and in the 1911 census is shown as a tailoress, having a younger sister, Dora, born 1894. Phoebe died in 1909 and Hyman took up with Sarrah Cohen, although there is no record existing of a marriage. At the time that Annie signed her first contract with Archie, Annie was living at 3 Elmwood Vale, Leeds.
‘Our Avenue’ – Annie Lipman can be heard near the end castigating Gracie for her pronunciation, ‘You didn’t sound one ‘H’ Miss Fields!’
At some point in the history of the Fields/Pitt marriage, Annie move into ‘Tower’ the marital home, and occupied the ‘state’ bedroom with Archie, whist Gracie lived a more ‘down to earth’ life in the comfort of her own more ’homely’ rooms. Gracie was not entirely unhappy about this as it meant she could largely live her own life, away from Archie whom she was increasingly unhappy with.
When Gracie and Archie’s marriage broke down completely in 1932, Archie and Annie moved to ‘Bluetiles’, a house in Frognal Way, Hampstead that Gracie had built for herself but never moved into. It is unlikely that Gracie ever spent a night there.
Annie and Archie lived at Bluetiles until 1939 when they moved to a cottage in the Devon village of Rocombe.
Archie (45) married the 25 year old Annie in February 1940 in Honiton, Devon, seven months after Gracie had been granted a divorce from Archie, citing Archie’s ‘Misconduct with Miss. Annie Lipman, his secretary’ as the reason. In turn, Annie became a widow 9 short months later, when Archie died after years of ill health.