Detail from The Canal, Amsterdam, 1889, James McNeill Whistler, The Hunterian, University of Glasgow


Helen Lenoir

Birthname: Susan Helen Couper Black
Alias: Helen Carte
Nationality: Scottish
Date of birth: 1852
Place of birth: Wigton
Date of death: 1913.05.05
Category: model, collector


Helen Lenoir, née Helen Coupar Black, later Mrs D'Oyly Carte, actress, stage-manager, and business woman. She was daughter of the Procurator-Fiscal of Wigtonshire. Her first husband died in 1885. She married Richard D'Oyly Carte (1844-1901), impresario and property developer, on 12 April 1888. He died in 1901. In 1906 she married for a third time; her husband, Stanley Boulter, was a barrister.


Lenoir studied mathematics, logic and moral philosophy at London University 1871-4 (at that date no degrees could be awarded to women). She spoke several languages and taught mathematics. Her had a brief acting career before becoming secretary to Richard D'Oyly Carte in 1877. She made frequent visits to the United States in order to promote D'Oyly Carte's interests.

She helped to organise Whistler's Ten o'clock Lecture in 1885, a proposed lecturing trip to America (which was abandoned) and some of his financial and exhibition affairs.

In 1886, D'Oyly Carte offered her a salary of £1,000 and 10% commission on all business at his theatres. When they were married two years later, the composer Arthur Sullivan was the best man. After Carte's death in 1901, she ran the Savoy Theatre until 1909, and the D'Oyly Carte Touring Company Ltd until her death in 1913.


Wilson, Robin J., Gilbert & Sullivan: the D'Oyly Carte Years, London 1984; Sadie, Stanley (ed.), The New Grove Dictionary of Opera, New York, 1992.