The Claudia Mair Williams Collection

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

This personal collection contains information on dancers of the Sadler's Wells Ballet, particularly Michael Somes, Margot Fonteyn and Robert Helpmann. The material includes:

  • Correspondence: letter to Claudia Williams from John Tooley, the Royal Opera House, June 1984, regarding her sadness at Somes' claimed dismissal and another, March 1990, thanking Williams for her donation to the 'Tribute to Dame Margot Fonteyn’ fund;
  • 2 rare photographs of Michael Somes, signed and inscribed to Williams; The Choice
  • Birthday card featuring colour photograph of Somes and Fonteyn in Cinderella;
  • Several programmes (1958-88) of ROH galas with The Royal Ballet, for Ondine; The Queen's Silver Jubilee; 50th Anniversary Season of The Royal Ballet and Sadler's Wells Royal Ballet, which was compiled, written and narrated by Somes; also a gala for The Royal Academy of Dancing, featuring Somes and Fonteyn. A leaflet advertising a statue called Young Ballerina made of Franklin Porcelain to commemorate the Fiftieth Anniversary of The Royal Ballet;
  • Two Royal Opera House in-house periodicals About the House, 1990-1991, featuring tributes to Fonteyn; also a ROH programme for A Tribute to Margot Fonteyn gala performance of MacMillan’s Romeo And Juliet, 30 May 1990, with Sylvie Guillem and Jonathan Cope in the title roles, and with Rudolf Nureyev as Mercutio;
  • Scrapbook compiled between 1979-81 – largely a tribute to Fonteyn, featuring press cuttings and original (stamped) prints of B&W photographs by Leslie E Spatt, all relating to Fonteyn’s farewell performance with The Royal Ballet, given at the ROH on 23rd May 1979. The scrapbook also features de Valois and Ashton, with other leading dancers such as Somes, Nureyev, Helpmann, Collier. Some snapshots of Claudia Williams herself, and of a Pavlova Exhibition;
  • Press cuttings on Somes' claimed dismissal from The Royal Ballet from his post of Principal Repetiteur, 1984; the controversy caused by Ninette de Valois' address to the London Ballet Circle in 1984, regarding alleged falling standards at The Royal Ballet under Norman Morrice; Dancing Times articles on the above by John Percival, and also on Somes’ early partnership with Fonteyn, especially in the original production of Horoscope (1938); news coverage of Fonteyn's difficult financial circumstances when elderly, assisted by The Royal Ballet holding a fund-raising gala in her honour, 1990; several obituaries of Fonteyn's death, February 1991.

Administrative / Biographical History

Claudia Mair Williams, late of Rhuddlan, Denbighshire in Wales, was a keen collector of ballet memorabilia in the UK, particularly of items associated with Michael Somes.

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for consultation and can be viewed by appointment only. Please contact White Lodge Museum via our website at The Royal Ballet School, White Lodge Museum http://www.royalballetschool.org.uk/the-school/museum/

Acquisition Information

Bequest of Claudia Mair Williams, 8 February 2012

Corporate Names