• This material is held at
  • Reference
      GB 133 FRD1/8/15/2
  • Dates of Creation
      1905-1955; 1966
  • Physical Description
      87 pieces; 127 leaves. Condition: the three sheets of paper in /20 have each been torn in half.

Scope and Content

Papers originally stored in a file labelled "Biographical etc." A miscellaneous bundle, which includes material relating to RD's boyhood and early dramatic experience. Includes: an envelope (originally containing a fan letter) addressed simply to "The Glourie Ghost" c/o the London Film Company (/1); a letter to RD from his first wife Ella (21 Aug 1955) (/9); an incomplete article on fan mail by RD (/10); a fragmentary letter from RD making reference to [Manchester Guardian editor] C.P. Scott, whom he rates as "Manchester's greatest citizen" (/11); holograph draft of a talk by RD; apparently an early draft of the speech he made to appeal for funds for Bristol Theatre Royal in April 1942 (/14); RD's Baptismal Certificate, recording his baptism as Friedrich Robert Donat at St Paul's Church, Withington, Manchester, on 9 April 1905 (/16); memorandum from RD to his brothers in Canada, describing his recent Royal Academy of Music examination, his interview with W. Bridges-Adams, and his hopes to find experience touring with Benson [Jan 1924] (/17); holograph script of a play entitled "The Meeting" written by RD as a young boy (/18); bundle of holograph notes relating to RD's early performances and acting more generally (1919-24) (/23-54); 15 holograph letters from RD to his parents in America, in which he discusses his marriage to Ella Voysey in 1929, their honeymoon, his current acting work and his ambitions, life in Cambridge, and his daughter Joanna, born in May 1931 (6 August 1929-3 Apr 1932 and n.d.) (/55-69); letter from RD to Gladys Cooper of the Playhouse Theatre, asking her to come and see him in Precious Bane at the St Martin's Theatre (25 Apr 1932) (/70); typescript fragment of a copy letter [to Ella] from RD, sent during the war (/71); rough manuscript drafts of various talks by RD (/72-87).


The material in this file appears to have been disturbed during the period since RD's death. It contains a small number of posthumous items, including a letter to John Trewin, RD's first biographer, who presumably made use of this material when researching his biography. The letters to RD's parents may also have been returned posthumously. The core of the file, however, appears to be RD's own and its order has been retained.