John Gielgud Correspondence

Scope and Content

Two autograph letters from Sir John Gielgud to Professor Yoshio Arai. In the first letter, dated 4 November 1969, Gielgud discusses his role as Leontes in Peter Brook's 1950 production of The Winter's Tale at the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon. In the second letter, dated 27 March 1991, he discusses his recording of Macbeth's Tomorrowspeech (26 March 1991), which was used for a Kyogen dance event devised by Professor Arai and performed at the Fifth World Shakespeare Congress, Tokyo, 1991. The letter is accompanied by a cassette recording of the speech. Also includes copy of a photograph of Gielgud with Peter Greenaway, 1991.

Administrative / Biographical History

John Gielgud was born in South Kensington, London, 14 April 1904. He was educated at Westminster and trained at Lady Benson's Acting School and RADA, London. He worked under the tutelage of Lilian Bayliss with friend and fellow performer Laurence Olivier and other contemporaries of the National Theatre at the Old Vic, London. His first appearance on stage at the Old Vic was in 1921; his first screen debut in 1924. He was President of the Shakespeare Reading Society, 1958-; Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, 1977-1989 (Honorary Fellow, 1989); Fellow, British Academy of Film and Television Arts, 1992; Special Award for Services to the Theatre, Laurence Olivier Awards, 1985; Honorary Degree Brandeis University Companion, Legion of Honour, 1960; CH 1977; Knight 1953; Honorary LLD St Andrews, 1950; Honorary DLitt Oxon, 1953; Honorary DLitt London, 1977. Publications:

  • Early Stages, 1938
  • Stage Directions, 1963
  • Distinguished Company, 1972
  • An Actor and His Time (autobiog.), 1979
  • Backward Glances, 1989
  • Shakespeare - Hit or Miss, 1991

Died Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, 21 May 2000.

Reference: Who's Who 1993

Access Information

Open. Access to all registered researchers.

Other Finding Aids

A catalogue to item level is available in electronic format on the University of Birmingham Special Collections website: http// A paper copy of the catalogue is available at the Shakespeare Institute Library.

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Further deposits are not expected.

Related Material

John Gielgud's papers are held at the British Library, Manuscript Collections [Reference: Dep 10007