Robert Donat was born Friedrich Robert Donat on March 18th, 1905, in Withington, Manchester. The young Donat staged plays in the garden shed at his home, which he transformed into the 'Star Theatre of Varieties'.
Donat made his first stage appearance at the Prince of Wales Theatre, Birmingham in 1921, and made his first film, That Night in London, in 1932. In 1939 he won an 'Oscar' for his role in the film Goodbye, Mr. Chips. He also produced and directed theatre, and appeared on radio.
Robert Donat suffered from chronic asthma, and died in 1958.
Right: These postcards of Robert Donat are exhibits held in The Bill Douglas Centre.
The Papers of Robert Donat held at The University of Manchester Special Collections comprise correspondence, both personal and professional; personal diaries; press-cuttings; theatre programmes; film and radio scripts, posters, and costume and set designs; photographs of Donat from childhood and throughout his career, including press photographs, theatre stills and studio stills; reel-to-reel tape recordings of radio performances, interviews and poetry readings; an 'emotion chart' on which Donat mapped character development in King Vidor's fim The Citadel, 1938; and commercial records and tapes.
The Rylands also holds the.collection of Donat Family Letters, dating from 1917-1958.
The Bill Douglas Centre for the History of Cinema and Popular Culture at the University of Exeter has on online catalogue of film ephemera, which includes photographs, postcards, and magazines.
Cambridge University Library holds some correspondence between Donat and the Anglo-Russian novelist and playwright William Gerhardie (1895-1977), dating from 1936 and 1944.
- Papers of Robert Donat: full item-level catalogue
- Donat Family Letters: full item-level catalogue
- Robert Donat Collection: the Theatre Collection holds material relating to various productions in which Donat was involved (University of Bristol)
- Bill Douglas Centre for the History of Cinema and Popular Culture: search the catalogue for film ephemera (University of Exeter)
- Donat, Robert (1905-1958): screenonline includes film clips accessible from UK universities (British Film Institute)
[ Archives Hub Blog: Hello Mr Chips.
Links are provided to records on Copac for these items. Copac is the free, web based national union catalogue, containing the holdings of many of the major university and National Libraries in UK and Ireland plus a number of special libraries. For more information about accessing items see the FAQs on the Copac website.
- Kenneth Barrow Mr. Chips: the life of Robert Donat. Records on Copac
- Dido Davies William Gerhardie: a biography. Records on Copac
- Victoria Sarah Lowe "Matinee idol and the false beard: performance and stardom in the films of Robert Donat 1934-1940". [PhD thesis] Records on Copac
- Richard Schickel The Men who made the movies: interviews with Frank Capra, George Cukor, Howard Hawks, Alfred Hitchcock, Vincente Minnelli, King Vidor, Raoul Walsh, and William A. Wellman. Records on Copac
- J.C. Trewin Robert Donat: a biography. Records on Copac
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