Gabrielle Enthoven Archive

Scope and Content

This collection consists of the personal possessions, photographs, play scripts/scenarios written by Gabrielle Enthoven, correspondence and indexes, providing information about her life and her collecting practice. The extensive correspondence collection consists of over 2000 letters written to Gabrielle Enthoven. Also included are letters dating from the 1950s relating to George Nash and his supervision of the Enthoven collection.

Administrative / Biographical History

Gabrielle Enthoven was born Augusta Gabrielle Eden Romaine, 12 January 1868. She was the daughter of William Govett Romaine (1815-1892), barrister, Advocate General Governor to India and Legal Advisor to the Board of Admiralty. Gabrielle accompanied her father on trips to both India and Egypt, after which she lived with him in Windsor until his death. Married in 1893 to Major Charles Henfrey Enthoven, she began her lifetime of collecting with the purchase of a bundle of playbills from a bookshop on Charing Cross Road for five shillings. In 1924 the Victoria & Albert Museum agreed to accept her collection of playbills, at this point numbering 80,000, as a permanent part of their collection. Mrs Enthoven devoted her life to her collection, continuing to work at the museum with a number of assistants until her death, aged 82, 18 August 1950. Obituaries were published in both The Times and The New York Times.

She was a keen playwright and amateur actress. Her play Montmartre was shown at the Alhambra in 1912 and Ellen Young at the Savoy in 1916. She produced and published the English translation of Gabriele d'Annunzio's play The Honeysuckle , performed in the Lyceum, New York in 1921 and Playroom 6, Soho, 10 May 1927.

Her correspondence from London provides evidence of her friendships with notable theatrical players, including Edith Craig and Edward Gordon Craig, Sir John Gielgud, the art historian and keeper of the London Museum, Sir Guy Francis Laking, the bookseller Ifan Kyrle Fletcher (who was also to be prominent in pushing for the creation of the Theatre Museum) and his wife, Constance.

During the First World War, Mrs Enthoven was the head of the correspondence and indexing department of the War Refugee Committee, and in 1916 she worked as head of the records department of the Red Cross, dealing with the welfare of British prisoners of war. She was awarded an O.B.E for these services.

George Nash, post-Second World War, assisted Mrs Enthoven with her collection. Upon her death in 1950, Nash continued to maintain the collection until his retirement in 1978. The Enthoven Theatre Collection during this time was a part of the Engravings, Illustrations and Drawing Department and later became part of the core collections of the V&A Department of Theatre and Performance.

Conditions Governing Access

This archive collection is available for consultation in the V&A Blythe House Archive and Library Study Room by appointment only. Full details of access arrangements may be found here:

Acquisition Information

Given by Gabrielle Enthoven.

Conditions Governing Use

Information on copying and commercial reproduction may be found here:

Custodial History

Gabrielle Enthoven's personal papers had become mixed up with her theatrical collection and the administrative documentation of the early curators of the Theatre Collection. This archive of personal papers has been separated from the theatrical collection and restored to its original order.

Related Material

The material collected by Gabrielle Enthoven can now be found in the V&A Theatre and Performance collections of playbills, posters, artworks and designs available on V&A Search the Collections . Her collection also forms the foundation of the London Production Files and more information on this resource is available on V&A Search the Archives .