Douglas H. Jeffery Archive

Scope and Content

This collection comprises of photographic negatives and prints, some glass negatives and personal records of the photographer Douglas H Jeffery. It comprises of a representative collection of photographic negatives that document the history of London theatre performance between c. 1960-2003 and the related correspondence with media organisations and publishers, who purchased images for publication.

His early work is kept on negative glass prints, before he moved onto black and white 35 mm film.

Administrative / Biographical History

Douglas H Jeffery (1917-2009) was born in Gillingham, Kent, but his parents, Ada May Elizabeth and Harold Walter Jeffery were from Somerset. The H in his name comes from Hannaford, his morther's maiden name.

Having worked for Kodak, Jeffery became interested in photography and started taking photographs in the early 1940s, using a plate camera. He had photographed productions at the Richmond Park open-air theatre for a local paper in Kingston upon Thames, where he attended school. He also photographed weddings and horse races.

He was known as a good friend to his fellow photographers. Photographer Graham Brandon, who often worked at the same press calls as Jeffery, noted, that Jeffery, also known as "Dougie" used to co-ordinate the press calls on behalf of all the photographers. Venues would liaise with Jeffery to ensure that press calls did not overlap and he would distribute schedules to all other photographers. Brandon further acknowledged that unlike other photographers, Jeffery would also go to fringe venues. Jeffery also took pictures of the press calls itself (e.g. directors and other photographers) as well as taking informal portraits of theatre practitioners and playwrights.

Jeffery made all of his own tools for fixing his camera, often made his own chemicals and he develped the films himself. Bu the late 1980s, picture editors grew unhappy with his technical style and later on were annoyed by his refusal to adopt digital photography. In 1994, Jeffery was hit by a passing car and the recovery period caused less photoorders from publishers.

Douglas H Jeffery never married. He died in London in 2009.


The original working order has been maintained where appropriate. The archive has been divided into 7 series:

  • THM/374/1 - Negatives of theatre productions
  • THM/374/2 - Professional Correspondence
  • THM/374/3 - Photography: technique, equipment
  • THM/374/4 - Personal correspondence and documents
  • THM/374/5 - Financial documents
  • THM/374/6 - Legal documents
  • THM/374/7 - Glass plates negatives
  • THM/374/8 - Photographic negatives of individuals

Access Information

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:

Access to some of the material may be restricted. These are noted in the catalogue where relevant.

Acquisition Information

The collection was purchased at auction in Autumn 2008.

Physical Characteristics and/or Technical Requirements

Gellatin dry plates sized 4.5x6 cm and 9x12cm.

Conditions Governing Use

Information on copying and commercial reproduction may be found here:

Appraisal Information

This collection was appraised in line with collection management policies.


No further accruals are expected.

Related Material

See also the core collections of the V&A Theatre and Performance Department. Material relating to Douglas H Jeffery, as well as theatre photography in general may be found in several collections, including the biographical, productions, company and photographs files.

Please ask for details.