Acting, marriage & twins
Ruth must have left school in 1931 and at the age of sixteen she went to train as an actress at the Old Vic in Waterville Road, London. She got on very well with Lillian Bayliss who ran the Old Vic and was very friendly with Eileen Overton, one of the founders of Vic-Wells Organisation. She joined the "Group Theatre" which involved Rupert Doon and Tyrone Guthrie. It worked on the principal that artistic people had the potential to do anything artistic. Later, when she was acting with the Howard and Wyndam Company in Scotland she met Stella Pettiward, who was stage-managing, and they became firm friends; Stella was installed as part of the family. I was told that Ruth's first great love was the actor John Moody but the relationship came to nothing; he later ran the Welsh Opera Group.
In the early 1930’s Ruth met Ian William Danby (b. 11 November 1913). She was then the leading lady in the Seagull Company in Yorkshire and he was a junior reporter on the Yorkshire Post. He came from a wealthy family involved in the coal industry and had studied at Jesus College Cambridge. They married in 1936. Ian's family were not happy about the marriage and would have nothing to do with Ruth though she subsequently developed a good rapport with her father-in-law; her mother-in-law was always distant. There is a story that when Ruth was expecting their twins and Ian’s mother came to visit them in London, they met her at the station and she made Ruth walk behind them. She is reputed to have said,
I'm not walking with someone looking like that. [photo, right, (no enlargement) of Ian & stella]
On 21 July 1938 Ruth gave birth to twin girls. When she had been about six months pregnant, she played the young Queen Elizabeth (aged about seventeen) in 'The Tudor Wench', being amorously pursued about the stage by Thomas Seymour! The labour was very long and difficult because one of the twins was breech. It was then that the doctors discovered Ruth had hypertension and she was advised not to have any more children. Like her sister Elaine (my mother), Ruth had problems with vacillating blood pressure - it was generally high but later she was to be hospitalised with very low blood pressure - for the rest of her life.