Relatives of the first North East professional singer/songwriter are to be reunited at a play about the Geordie who became a regional superstar.
Margaret Wilkes, who lives in Morpeth, is the great, great granddaughter of Ned Corvan and only recently found out there was a resurgence of interest in her famous ancestor.
She can trace her Corvan lineage back from Ned’s second daughter Mary Jane, who was born in 1857 and is her great grandmother.
The 64-year-old was recently guest of honour at the unveiling of a blue plaque to the Victorian entertainer at Newcastle Central Station.
Margaret, originally from Blyth, said: “I can’t believe all this is happening.
“The plaque, the book, talks, exhibitions at Tynemouth Metro Station bridge, Newcastle City Library and The Word in South Shields and to cap it all a play about him called Mr Corvan’s Music Hall will tour the region over the next couple of weeks.
“My eldest sister, Eileen, is flying back from America to see the last show of Mr Corvan’s Music Hall at Sage Gateshead on June 10, despite having just been in England on holiday over Easter.
“She said she wouldn’t miss this for the world.”
Another family member who will see the show is Joe Wilkes, who is Ned’s great grandson and traces his lineage via Ned’s oldest daughter, Isabella.
She was born in 1855 and is Joe’s great grandmother.
Joe, who is originally from Blyth and now lives in Stannington, missed the plaque unveiling due to illness.
The 86-year-old was a well-known musician with his brother Tom on the amateur jazz scene in the 1960s.
Mary Jane, like her sister and father, was a professional music hall singer who performed as far south as Halifax.
She gave up when she was married. Likewise, Isabella stopped treading the boards when she married Samuel Wilkes in 1882. Both families later moved to Blyth.
Margaret, a former IT manager, added: “The stories of Ned have been handed down in our family. I have a copy of a picture he drew called Billy Purvis Stealing The Bundle, which hangs in the Laing Art Gallery in Newcastle.
“We have carried out a lot of work to trace our family and Dave Harker’s new biography of Ned called Cat-Gut Jim is incredible. It has helped to fill in some of the gaps.
“It’s a total coincidence that Joe and I are both called Wilkes, although tracing my husband’s family back several generations almost all of the Wilkes family originate from the Staffordshire area, so somewhere back in time I am sure there will be a connection between Joe’s family and Margaret’s husband’s family.”
Mr Corvan’s Music Hall has been supported by Arts Council England and is produced in association with Gala Theatre, Durham, and Sunday for Sammy. Tour details are available at www.mrcorvansmusichall.co.uk