Letter to Alan Lerner

Scope and Content

Manuscript rough copy of a letter in Beaton's hand, concerning the 1969 Broadway musical 'Coco', directed by Michael Benthall and choreographed by Michael Bennett, with music by André Previn, lyrics by Alan Lerner and costume/set design by Beaton. Katherine Hepburn starred as Coco Chanel. Beaton writes that in most productions, the designer has to work with the director. He has heard the suggestions made by Lerner, Previn, Hepburn, Bennett and Benthall, some of which have been helpful and some which have not. Feels that the mistakes that he has made came partly from having given in to opinions with which he did not agree. In recent weeks, his main concern has been to try to see that he does not further jeopardise the work he has done. If Beaton sounds depressed at seeing night after night the same mistakes being made, it is not from a personal point of view, but also because he knows that such mistakes will attract criticisms that will hurt the future prospects of the show. He does not enjoy fighting in the theatre and it would be easier for him not to care, but since he does continue to care - not only for himself, but for others - it makes things easier for him to get Lerner's letter after he has worked on this for such a long time with Lerner.

Administrative / Biographical History

Photographer, artist, writer, and designer of scenery and costumes. Educated at Harrow and St John's College, Cambridge, 1922-5. Made his name as a photographer through portraits of the Sitwells. Employed by Vogue in London and New York. Published 'The Book of Beauty' (1930). Photographed the Duke of Windsor's wedding, 1937. War photographer, 1939-45. Designed 'Lady Windermere's Fan', 1945. Designed costumes for 'An Ideal Husband' and 'Anna Karenina', 1948. Worked on 'The School for Scandal', 1949, 'Quadrille' for Noel Coward, 1952, 'Turandot', 1961, and 'La Traviata', 1966. Designed costumes for 'My Fair Lady', 1956, and for the film version in Hollywood, 1963. His play 'The Gainsborough Girls', 1951 and 1959, was unsuccessful. Published 'The Glass of Fashion' (1954), and six volumes of diaries. Exhibited photographs at the National Portrait Gallery, 1968. Knighted 1972.

Note

Photographer, artist, writer, and designer of scenery and costumes. Educated at Harrow and St John's College, Cambridge, 1922-5. Made his name as a photographer through portraits of the Sitwells. Employed by Vogue in London and New York. Published 'The Book of Beauty' (1930). Photographed the Duke of Windsor's wedding, 1937. War photographer, 1939-45. Designed 'Lady Windermere's Fan', 1945. Designed costumes for 'An Ideal Husband' and 'Anna Karenina', 1948. Worked on 'The School for Scandal', 1949, 'Quadrille' for Noel Coward, 1952, 'Turandot', 1961, and 'La Traviata', 1966. Designed costumes for 'My Fair Lady', 1956, and for the film version in Hollywood, 1963. His play 'The Gainsborough Girls', 1951 and 1959, was unsuccessful. Published 'The Glass of Fashion' (1954), and six volumes of diaries. Exhibited photographs at the National Portrait Gallery, 1968. Knighted 1972.

Additional Information

Published