Sir Alec Guinness Archive

Scope and Content

The archive contains material relating to the life and work of Sir Alec Guinness including diaries, corrrespondence, scripts performed by Alec Guinness, manuscripts for plays, memoirs, stories and articles he wrote, awards and certificates, programmes, press cuttings and ephemera. There is also some material relating to his family, including two diaries written by Merula Guinness, his wife. Significant correspondents include figures from the theatre, film and literary worlds such as Laurence Olivier, Ralph Richardson, Alan Bennett and David Cornwell (le Carre).

Administrative / Biographical History

Access to the archive was provided to Piers Paul Read who wrote the authorised biography of Alec Guinness. Therefore the archive, to some extent, has been arranged and information has been collected and added by Read. The impact of his use of the archive is most noticeable in the correspondence files, where he numbered the letters and sometimes provided partial transcripts.

Access Information

Available for research unless otherwise stated

Not Public Record(s)

Acquisition Information

Acquired from Matthew Guinness, through Sothebys' with the help of funding raised from the Friends of the British Library.

Appraisal Information

The archive has been appraised in line with library procedures.


Guinness, Alec, A Commonplace Book (Hamish Hamilton, 2001)

Guinness, Alec, Blessings in Disguise (Hamilton, 1985)

Guinness, Alec, My Name Escapes Me (Hamish Hamilton: London, 1996)

Guinness, Alec, A Positively Final Appearance (Viking, 1999)

Read, Piers Paul, Alec Guinness: the authorised biography (London: Simon & Schuster, 2003)