Charles Woods: Theatre Programme Collection

Scope and Content

Theatre programmes, playbills, postcards of cast members, photographs, newspaper cuttings, magazines, letters, and personal record books, with accompanying explanatory notes, collected by Charles Woods, and including programmes and posters from his own shows as Horace Watson. The programmes are grouped into sets: New Theatre and Theatre Cinema (over 1,000 items), Festival Theatre (c. 100), Arts Theatre (over 2,000), London Theatres (c. 300), and Horace Watson items (c. 50). There is also a card index of play titles, compiled by Woods and updated by his widow.

Boxes 1-15: Cambridge Arts Theatre Programmes. Alphabetical sequence of the titles of plays, covering 1936-1981.

Boxes 16-17: Festival Theatre Programmes. Alphabetical sequence of the titles of plays, covering, 1926-1936.

Boxes 18-22: New Theatre and Theatre Cinema Programmes. 1) Date order Sequence, 1905-1956 (boxes 18-20); 2) Rough Alphabetical Sequence (boxes 21-22).

Bozes 23-24: London Theatre Programmes. Alphabetical sequence of titles of plays.

Boxes 25-26: Provincial Theatre Programmes. Alphabetical sequence by town.

Box 27: Miscellaneous Programmes and Brochures (unsorted).

Box 28: C.M. Woods - Biographical and Theatre History Materials.

Box 29: Horace Watson (i.e. C.M. Woods) Materials, covering the years 1912-1947.

Box 30: Miscellaneous Theatre Magazines and Yearbooks.

Boxes 31-32: Theatre World, 1946-1958, a very incomplete set.

16 Shoeboxes: Alphabetical file of play titles represented in the collection (1 box); Alphabetical file of actors, actresses, and artists featured in the programmes in the collection (15 boxes).

1 large carboard box: C.M. Wood's childhood toy stage.

Administrative / Biographical History

Charles M. Woods (1894-1982) was a systematic collector of theatre programmes and memorabilia, who began collecting in the early 1900s. At the age of eight he moved from Fulham to Cambridge and became a regular at the old New Theatre, then in St. Andrew's Street. He spent time in London and Paris during the First World War, and took every opportunity to see all the latest plays and add more programmes to his collection. After his return from the War his attendance at the various Cambridge theatres continued virtually uninterrupted until only a few months before his death. During this time he attended the New Theatre (1903-1906), the Festival Theatre (1926-1936), and the Arts Theatre (1936-1981) in Cambridge, as well as taking in occasional shows at the Princess and Pavilion Theatres, Torquay, and the Royal Hippodrome, Eastbourne. The performances included repertory, opera, pantomine, ballet and variety. Woods, whose wife Nina, who shared his devotion to the theatre, worked at the Cambridge University Press and enjoyed a successful career as a local entertainer in his own right. He performed at concerts and dinner parties throughout the region under the stage name Horace Watson from 1912 until he retired from the stage in 1946.

Access Information

Open for consultation by holders of a Reader's Ticket valid for the Manuscripts Reading Room.

Acquisition Information

Presented by Mrs C.M. Woods, 1982.


Description compiled by Robert Steiner, Department of Manuscripts and University Archives.

Other Finding Aids

Additional Manuscripts Catalogue.

Geographical Names