Edmund James Payne was born in Hackney, London on the 14th December 1863. His parents were Edmund Payne and Eliza Payne nee Ince. At the aged of 14, he started working in a very small theatre. He wrote a burlesque, painted all the scenery and starred in the show.
This was the start of his music hall career.
The first regular company that he joined was referred to colloquially as a 'fit-up'. This meant that when the company toured England they had to put up their own scenery and was 'fitted up' in assembly rooms and town halls. It was not unusual to play three or more towns in one week.
Edmund's first main stage appearance was at Market Harborough, Leicestershire in 1882. This was a music hall pantomime called 'Robinson Crusoe'. His role was to play a snowball. There was an unfortunate accident in which he nearly lost his life. A more detailed explanation is explained in the book 'Edmund Payne - A Gaiety Actor'.
Edmund was also an original promoter of the 'Actors Association'. It was chiefly against the bogus managers, unsanitary dressing rooms and to campaign for rehearsal work to be paid for. It was an organisation to look after the actors' business interest and also their physical well being.