The Mystery of Stan’s Mother Bessie


Would you believe this is Stan Watkins’ mother? This is her statue about four feet high, made in painted plaster – or it might only be patina occurring over the years. Because it is old. Betsy Caroline Doughty, known as Bessie, was born in 1866 and the family has always heard that this was a study of Bessie aged 7. She later married Sylvester Watkins and produced Stanley Sylvester Alexander Watkins, my father, the talkies pioneer.

The book has lost a corner, and Bessie has lost a toe, but her sweet smile remains.

For years she had traveled everywhere with Stan, and when he retired to Dulwich in SE London, she sat in the mullioned window of the upstairs hallway, facing the street. We have learned that one young neighbor lad was rather leery of her, but we all thought she was lovely. Bessie now lives in Stockholm with Stan’s grandson, Dan.

The thing is, we do not know who made her. If anyone recognizes the style, perhaps that would help identify her sculptor. We know that Victorian animal painter, Arthur Wardle, was a good friend of the family, but that wasn’t his medium. And I doubt he knew Bessie when she was seven.

Whoever carved Bessie, the family has always held her close to their hearts. And she remains in the family to this day when Granny Watkins, 170 years later, is still a beautiful young girl.

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