Née Gladys Milton Palmer (aka Mrs/G.M. Bertram Brooke, H.H. Dayang Muda of Sarawak, Khair un-nisa binti ‘Abdu’llah)

b. 8 January 1884, Reading, Berkshire

d. 12 June 1952, Galle Face Court, Colombo, Ceylon

Principal director of film production company 


Gladys was the only daughter of Sir Walter Palmer, 1st Bart., and Jean, Lady Palmer, daughter of William Young Craig of Milton House, Cheshire. In 1904, Gladys married Bertram Willes Dayrell Brooke (b. 1876, Kuching – d. 1965, Surrey) from the family of the White Rajahs who ruled Sarawak.  Bertram took the title “Tuan Muda” (Little Lord) of Sarawak, and Gladys took the title “Dayang Muda”. After having been a Protestant, Christian Scientist and Roman Catholic, Gladys converted to Islam in the Paris Mosque in 1932, taking the name Khair un-nisa binti ‘Abdu’llah (for more information see Christopher Buyers’ work published online at http://www.4dw.net/royalark/Malaysia/sarawak.htm).

In 1922, Gladys formed the Big Four Famous Productions company together with D. Melhado, C.E. Smith and H. Grenville Taylor, and she acted as the firm’s principal director. The same year, the company produced the film Potter’s Clay (1922), the scenario for which was written by Hetty Spiers and her husband H. Langford Reed. The film was directed by Grenville Taylor, who had written the scenarios for a number of films in the late 1910s, almost all directed by Tom Watts, and produced variously by Hepworth, Barker and a production company under his own name. Grenville Taylor’s own company also produced A Lass o’ the Looms (1919) and The Heart of a Rose (1919), for which H. Langford Reed is credited as scenario writer. The latter film also featured Hetty Spiers’ daughter, Joan Langford Reed.  

Potter’s Clay featured the seventy-three year old famous stage actress Ellen Terry, and although commended for “some good acting and some excellent photography”, the Times summised:

“Altogether Potter’s Clay is interesting, if not a work of genius. It is a quite creditable first attempt, and the next film by ‘Big Four Famous Productions’ will be awaited with interest” (Times, 1922). 

Unfortunately, the partnership between the “Big Four” was dissolved in July 1922 just a few months after the release of their first film, and it is unlikely that the company ever made any more films. At present I know nothing more about Mrs. Bertram Brooke’s involvement with the British film industry. (CW)

See Filmography for Mrs Bertram Brooke

See Posts for Mrs Bertram Brooke


Clare Watson





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