Amy Height was a prominent stage actress and theatrical singer. Height was also a comedian introduced herself to British audiences first in pantomime.
Height was born in Boston, Massachusetts. Very little is known about her early childhood. By 1883, she was in the pantomime Robinson Crusoe as his “squaw,” Topsy. Critics described her as having a powerful singing voice and favorable comic delivery. She became well-known when her name appeared in “The Stage Newspaper” in 1883. At the time she was credited as a member of the cast of a variety show at the Surrey Music Hall in Barnsley.
By 1888, Height was working with the Bohee Brothers, who were given recognition as ‘banjoists to the Prince and Princess of Wales.’ In 1894, at Hammersmith’s Lyric Opera House, she made the first of several appearances as the slave Aunt Chloe in the melodrama Uncle Tom’s Cabin.
In 1895, Height appeared with music-hall comedian George Robey at the Royal Standard in Pimlico. During the late Victorian era, and throughout the Edwardian era, Height was well-known for appearances in music halls. She also made a number of appearances in pantomime, and there is evidence of a successful transition to ‘straight’ theatre. Her success was unusual for a black woman in Britain at that time.
Black People: Entertainers of African Descent in Europe and Germany