Film Director – Maurice Elvey

Film Director – Maurice Elvey

Maurice Elvey was born William Seward Folkard on 11 November 1887, 14 Park Road, Stockton-on-Tees. He was the most prolific director of the British film industry with a career spanning over 40 years, nearly 200 films to his credit and a reputation for helping shape early British cinema.

He left home as a child with minimal education, seeking his fortune in London, where he worked in various lowly positions before becoming an actor and stagehand. Ambition and hard-work led to him directing and producing plays and later establishing his own theatrical company.

In 1912 he moved in to movies and directed some of the earliest British feature length films including adaptations of R. L. Stevenson’s ‘Suicide Club’ (1914) and Shakespeare’s ‘As You Like It’ (1916), as well as biographies of Florence Nightingale, Lord Nelson and Lloyd George. In 1921 he directed Conan Doyle’s favourite Sherlock Holmes, Ellie Norwood, in an adaptation of ‘The Hound of the Baskervilles’, at which time he was chief director at Stoll film studios. In 1924 he travelled to America to make five films for Fox Film Corporation, returning a year later to direct some of his most critically acclaimed films including ‘Hindle Wakes’ (1927).

His later work included directing Grace Fields first film ‘Sally in Our Alley’ (1931); the grand, futuristic ‘The Tunnel’ (1935); and working with Leslie Howard on the critically lauded ‘The Gentle Sex’ (1943). He kept directing until failing eyesight led to his retirement in 1957.

He died in Raylands Nursing Home, Brighton on 28 August 1967.