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Lyn Harding
Mr. Lyn Harding LCCN2014692774 (cropped).jpg
Harding in 1915
David Llewellyn Harding

(1867-10-12)12 October 1867
Died26 December 1952(1952-12-26) (aged 85)
Years active1890–1947
Maria Frieda Reidacher
(m. 1895)

David Llewellyn Harding (12 October 1867 – 26 December 1952), known professionally as Lyn Harding, was a Welsh actor who spent 40 years on the stage before entering British made silent films, talkies and radio. He had an imposing and menacing stage presence and came to be cast as the villain in many films, notably Professor Moriarty in dramatisations of the Sherlock Holmes stories.

Early years

He was born in 1867 at St. Brides Wentloog, in Monmouthshire, into a strict Congregationalist Welsh-speaking family.[1]

Acting career

He started his career as an apprentice draper in Newport, Wales and but he was drawn to an acting career. He began giving readings from Shakespeare at a chapel in Cardiff. In 1890 a chance meeting with a touring group on a train led to him standing in for a sick actor and his first professional engagement. He opened on 28 August 1890 in The Grip Of Iron at the Theatre Royal, Bristol.[2]

Harding with Marie Doro (left) in Oliver Twist at the New Amsterdam Theatre (1912)
Harding with Marie Doro (left) in Oliver Twist at the New Amsterdam Theatre (1912)

He toured "the provinces" and eventually made his London debut at the Shakespeare Theatre, Clapham on 19 July 1897.

He later changed his name to "Lyn" to make it more acceptable to English audiences who found "Llewellyn" difficult to pronounce.

Harding as Sir Francis Drake in the 1912 play Drake, with Amy Brandon Thomas, at His Majesty's Theatre, London
Harding as Sir Francis Drake in the 1912 play Drake, with Amy Brandon Thomas, at His Majesty's Theatre, London

In 1910, he portrayed Dr Grimesby Rylott in Arthur Conan Doyle's play The Speckled Band.[3][4]

His career spanned stage, silent screen, talkies and radio productions and he toured in the United States, Japan, India and Burma. He worked at different times with John Gielgud, Ralph Richardson and Anthony Quayle.

His last stage appearance was as Abu Hassan in Chu Chin Chow in the West End in 1941 when he was 74 years old. At the age of nearly 80 he played Owain Glyndŵr in Shakespeare's Henry IV for BBC radio.

He lived for about ten years in Leverstock Green, near Hemel Hempstead where he played an active role in the local community, even staging plays and revues with fellow actors to help raise funds for a much needed parish hall. He died in London in 1952, aged 85.[5]


Year Title Role Director Notes
1920 The Barton Mystery Beverley Harry T. Roberts
1920 A Bachelor Husband Feather Dakers Kenelm Foss
1922 When Knighthood Was in Flower Henry VIII Robert G. Vignola
1922 Tense Moments with Great Authors Jean Valjean H. B. Parkinson, Walter Courtney Rowden and George Wynn (segment "Miserables, Les")
1924 Yolanda Charles the Bold Robert G. Vignola
1927 The Further Adventures of the Flag Lieutenant The Sinister Influence W.P. Kellino
1927 Land of Hope and Glory Roger Whiteford Harley Knoles
1930 Sleeping Partners It Seymour Hicks
1931 The Speckled Band Dr. Grimesby Roylott Jack Raymond
1932 The Barton Mystery Beverly Henry Edwards
1933 The Constant Nymph Albert Sanger Basil Dean
1934 The Man Who Changed His Name Selby Clive Henry Edwards
1934 The Lash Bronson Haughton Henry Edwards
1934 Wild Boy Frank Redfern Albert de Courville
1935 The Triumph of Sherlock Holmes Professor Moriarty Leslie S. Hiscott
1935 Escape Me Never Herr Heinrich Paul Czinner
1935 An Old Spanish Custom Gonzalo Gonzalez Adrian Brunel
1936 Spy of Napoleon Otto von Bismarck Maurice Elvey
1936 The Man Who Changed His Mind Professor Holloway Robert Stevenson
1937 Fire Over England Sir Richard Ingolby William K. Howard
1937 Please Teacher Wing Foo Stafford Dickens
1937 Underneath the Arches Pedro Redd Davis
1937 The Pearls of the Crown John Russell Christian-Jaque
1937 Knight Without Armour Bargee Jacques Feyder
1937 Silver Blaze Professor Moriarty Thomas Bentley
1937 The Mutiny of the Elsinore Mr. Pike Roy Lockwood
1937 I, Claudius Vespasian Josef von Sternberg
1939 Goodbye, Mr. Chips Dr. John Hamilton Wetherby Sam Wood
1939 The Missing People Joseph Bronstone Jack Raymond
1941 The Prime Minister Otto von Bismarck Thorold Dickinson Uncredited, (final film role)

Selected stage credits


  1. ^ "Lyn Harding". IMDb. Retrieved 3 January 2019.
  2. ^ "Lyn Harding". IMDb. Retrieved 1 January 2019.
  3. ^ Eyles, Alan (1986). Sherlock Holmes: A Centenary Celebration. Harper & Row. pp. 130. ISBN 0-06-015620-1.
  4. ^ "Lyn Harding - The Arthur Conan Doyle Encyclopedia". Retrieved 3 January 2019.
  5. ^ Leverstock Green Chronicle pre 20th Home Page