What became of Henry Dabelstein?

I’ve now posted a slightly enlarged version of my Marginalised Mainstream paper on Evadne Price/ Helen Zenna Smith as a page on this blog.

After writing this paper, and doing some work on the Evadne Price Wikipedia page, I’m left with one big question:

What happened to Henry Dabelstein?

According to the Australian records, Eva Price (before she became Evadne) married Henry Dabelstein, a German-born actor, in Sydney in 1909. She came to England without him, in about 1914, and married Charles Fletcher in 1920, presenting herself as Eva Price, spinster.

Had Henry died? Or had she just decided that he was best forgotten? I wish I could find out.


  1. janevsw
    Posted December 14, 2014 at 11:14 pm | Permalink

    There are Dabelsteins in the Australian and UK National Archives – but not Henry. Since he was an actor I wonder if these people can give you a trail to follow?

    • Posted December 15, 2014 at 9:32 am | Permalink

      Thanks for the suggestion.
      I’m wondering whether maybe he went back to Germany. This could be a reason why Evadne chose to forget him in wartime.

      • janevsw
        Posted December 15, 2014 at 9:35 pm | Permalink

        This website http://dabelsteinfamily.tripod.com/ includes, if you click down the links in the left-hand-panel, a David Henry Dabelstein b. 1892 in Brisbane, “m. Gertude May Fox 27 May 1916”, after which they had four children – whether that fits in with another marriage is anyone’s guest!

  2. Roger
    Posted December 17, 2014 at 8:11 pm | Permalink

    “David Henry Dabelstein b. 1892 in Brisbane”
    The problem there is that if this is the Henry Dabelstein who married Eva Price in 1909 he’d have to have his parents’ consent- what would have been the legal position if their marriage was not parentally authorised? Would it have been invalid so there was no need to get a divorce?
    Another possibility is the obvious one- the eclecticism of actors’ names. Perhaps Henry Dabelstein became someone else, especially given anti-German sentiments after the outbreak of WWI.

  3. janevsw
    Posted December 17, 2014 at 8:34 pm | Permalink

    You’re right of course – I should havr reminded myself of the marriage date. Back to sq. 1!

  4. Posted December 19, 2014 at 10:06 pm | Permalink

    There were a surprisingly high number of Dabelsteins in Australia in the early twentieth century. To find the fate of Evadne’s Henry would probably require expert searching in Australia itself.
    The crucial question is: Had he died before her 1920 marriage to Charles Fletcher?
    If so, would the likeliest death for a young man at that time be a fatal war injury?
    If so, which side would an Australian of German heritage have fought on?
    And would his death in the War have been a factor in her very strong reaction to Remarque’s writing?
    The questions multiply, hypothetical breeds hypothetical, and I think I’ll leave this subject till I have some more solid evidence.

    • janevsw
      Posted December 20, 2014 at 12:21 am | Permalink

      The only Dabelstein on the CWGC website is Winifred, a civilian casualty in Hong Kong during WW2. So unless Henry is uncommemorated (or was a civilian casualty?), he survived the Great War.

  5. Roger
    Posted December 20, 2014 at 9:06 pm | Permalink

    “Unless he fought for Germany…”
    …or changed his name.

  6. Gwyn Gillard
    Posted October 10, 2021 at 6:12 am | Permalink

    Henry Dabelstein aka Harry Preston started a new life in the USA from ca. 1911 calling himself Robert Harry Preston. He died in New York in 1972. Have added details to Wikipedia. More information if anyone is interested.

    • Posted October 10, 2021 at 8:37 am | Permalink

      Congratulations on finding anothern piece of the jigsaw. Yes, I’d very much like to know details. Was he still an actor in America?

      • Gwyn Gillard
        Posted October 10, 2021 at 9:46 am | Permalink

        on the 1917 draft card his occupation was actor employed by Grand Central Palace Dancing Instruction. In the 1940 US census he was a vending machine rep.
        Can’t find him in the 1920s or 1930s.
        He was of medium height and build with red fair hair and blue eyes.

  7. Posted October 10, 2021 at 9:48 pm | Permalink

    Actor at the Dance School. Does that mean a professional dance partner?

    • Gwyn Gillard
      Posted October 10, 2021 at 10:45 pm | Permalink

      Probably means an actor looking for work who will take anything that pays.

  8. Gwyn Gillard
    Posted October 14, 2021 at 9:53 am | Permalink

    I think I have found him in the 1920 and 1930 US Census with some details falsified (trying to hide his German nationality). He continued to reside in New York as a dancing teacher. Dancing was a popular pastime in that era. The Grand Central Palace, later re-named the Dancing Carnival ran every afternoon and evening with 60 musicians rendering continuous music and 200 lady and gentlemen instructors teaching all the latest steps.

    • Posted October 15, 2021 at 4:02 am | Permalink

      So we have Henry and Evadne re-making themselves in different ways on opposite sides of the Atlantic. But is there any indication that they divorced? Or did Evadne just prefer to forget this marriage?

  9. Gwyn Gillard
    Posted October 15, 2021 at 5:00 am | Permalink

    A divorce would have been out of the question financially, I imagine. This may be why they both changed their names, Eva to Evadne, Harry to Robert.

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