Robert W. Paul (1869-1945) was a pioneer of the British film industry and in the words of Herbert and McKernan: 'Paul holds a unique position in the history of early cinema. His talents were such that he combined not only the roles of inventor and manufacturer but also those of producer, exhibitor and cinematographer.'
The Soldier's Courtship from which these prints are taken was staged on the roof of the Alhambra in April 1896. The 80-foot film was the first comic picture-play produced in England and no complete copy is known to exist. The film featured Fred Storey as the soldier, Julie Seal as the lover and Ellen (Nellie) Paul, as the elderly lady. The film was also used in one of Henry Short's Filoscope devices.
The plot of the film was simple and described by Paul's catalogue as 'A very comic scene, meeting of soldier and sweetheart, arrival of third party who attempts to crowd them, but is thrown off seat by the soldier'. It was shown from May 1896 to great acclaim. A second version called Tommy Atkins in the Park was made in 1898.