Robert Donat's original files

  • This material is held at
  • Reference
      GB 133 FRD1/8
  • Dates of Creation
      1891-1958; 1966
  • Physical Description
      15 sub-classes; 643 items; 1,977 pieces.

Scope and Content

This extensive class is comprised of a series of files which appear to form the remnants of RD's own filing system. Some of them have been disturbed since RD's death, and at least one of his biographers made use of the material, but the basic system appears to have been RD's own and has been left intact. The correspondence included here has escaped the alpha-numeric classification system imposed posthumously on the letters listed in FRD1/1. The material contained in these files is extremely wide-ranging, and provides a particularly useful source of information on RD's childhood, early dramatic work, and personal thoughts and opinions. It includes: a broad spectrum of correspondence, both personal (including letters from RD to his parents) and professional - relating to many of his plays, his work as a manager and producer, his films, broadcasts, friendships, finances, and personal activities; a number of contracts, including some of those relating to his early repertory engagements as well as some of his films; publicity material; biographical and autobiographical articles; scripts of radio broadcasts; papers relating to the removal of his wife and children to America during the War, including some of RD's correspondence with Ella; papers relating to the dispute over the Sunday opening of theatres during wartime; theatrical ephemera collected by RD; papers relating to his youth and early career, such as his baptism certificate, records of childhood performances, theatre reviews he collected, and an unemployment book; miscellaneous personal jottings including notes on theatre, poetry and creativity; and lists of his files which give an insight into how he administered his own records during his lifetime. Many important individuals from stage and screen are represented in the files, a number of whom also appear in the main series of correspondence in FRD1/1.


Some of the files were extremely bulky, containing widely varied material which was stored in no obvious order and was frequently sub-divided by RD into a series of subsidiary files or bundles. The content of each file is therefore listed as a separate sub-class, original order is maintained throughout, and the items are catalogued in some detail. All original file titles have been transcribed.