Theatre Collection

Scope and Content

A collection of approximately 5000 scrap files relating to plays performed principally in theatres in London but also in provincial theatres around the country and productions on tour in England and America. These scrap files follow a standard format. Each file relates to a single play and comprises a range of material which may include press and magazine cuttings of reviews of performances, photographs of members of the cast and production team, theatre programmes and cuttings from programmes, printed fliers, articles, scripts and synopses of plays and other printed items. The contents of each file usually spans no more than one, two or three years. There are a number of play titles for which more than one file has been created: these usually relate to a different production of another date.

Many of the files also include typescript notes about the play, which have been made by the creator of the collection. Some notes have been made directly on the contents of the file; others are typed on separate paper. Some of these notes relate to the principal production; other notes relate to earlier productions of a play - for which no printed material is included in the file. These notes give information, such as performance dates, venues and cast lists, about productions of plays as far back as the 1860s.

Most of these scrap files have been made using folded paper. The outside front sheet bears the title of the play - usually in printed form cut from a programme, magazine or other printed format. The contents of the files have been pasted onto the folded sheets of paper.

Administrative / Biographical History

The creator of these files is unknown although it is possible, from slight evidence found in the collection that Jack Walter Lambert (1917-1986) was connected with the collection in some way. His name has been found on a newscutting and he was much involved during his career in literature and the theatre. He was, for example, appointed as Assistant Literary Editor for the Sunday Times in 1948, becoming its Literary and Arts Editor, 1960-1976. He was also a member of the Board of Management of the British Drama League, later the British Theatre Association, 1963-84 and served on other committees and with other organisations connected the theatre. His publications included Drama in Britain, 1964-73 (1974).

Reference: Deposit information.


Arranged in a single sequence of files in numerical order according to the numbers assigned.

Access Information

Open. Access to all registered researchers.

Other Finding Aids

Please see the full catalogue for further details

Conditions Governing Use

Permission to make any published use of any material from the collection must be sought in advance in writing from the University Archivist, Special Collections (email: Identification of copyright holders of unpublished material is often difficult. Special Collections will assist where possible with identifying copyright owners, but responsibility for ensuring copyright clearance rests with the user of the material.

Custodial History

The provenance of this collection and the immediate source and date of its receipt is unknown. However, the collection was known to have been housed in the Special Collections Department by the 1960s. Each file was given a running number by library staff, but this numbering sequence does not appear to reflect the original arrangement by the creator which seems to have been alphabetical by title of play. The numbers allocated to each file have been retained as the finding number. Additional acquisitions of theatre-related materials comprising playbills, programmes, newscuttings and associated materials received from different sources were incorporated into this collection and added to the numbering sequence. The provenances of these separate acquisitions have now been established and discrete collection records created.

Related Material

The Special Collections Department holds other personal and artificial collections of theatre playbills, programmes, newscuttings and associated materials. These smaller collections, which were formerly incorporated into the Theatre Collection, include the following: the Heron-Allen album of playbills, MS107; Colyer-Fergusson albums, MS108; the Williams Theatre collection, MS109; a volume of play bills, MS110; an album of programmes, MS111; the Louis Cohen Collection, MS112; the Kemp album, MS113; and a volume of Shakespearian souvenirs and programmes, MS114.