Michael Benthall Archive, 1935-1973

Scope and Content

Comprehensive archive covering Benthall's career as director, which included notable Shakespearean productions at Stratford in the late 1940s and at the Old Vic, as well as plays and operas in London and New York. This archive includes programmes, playtexts, scrapbooks, and audio tapes.

Administrative / Biographical History

Michael Benthall made his professional debut in 1938 as an actor, initially playing small parts. His career as a director began in the 1940s. He was director of the Old Vic for nine years from 1953, during which time he embarked on a 'Five Year Plan', staging all 36 plays in the first folio of Shakespeare. He was also known for his contributions to opera, ballet and contemporary theatre.


The material in this archive is arranged chronologically or alphabetically by production where indicated.

  • THM/69/1 - Administrative documents
  • THM/69/2 - Production files
  • THM/69/3 - Touring files
  • THM/69/4 - Scripts
  • THM/69/5 - Musical Scores
  • THM/69/6 - Sound Recordings
  • THM/69/7 - Scrapbooks of Michael Benthall's productions,
  • THM/69/8 - Photographs
  • THM/69/9 - Programmes

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: http://www.vam.ac.uk/content/articles/a/archives/.

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

Conditions Governing Use

Information on copying and commercial reproduction may be found here: http://www.vam.ac.uk/content/articles/a/archives/.

Appraisal Information

This collection was appraised in line with the collection management policy.


No further accruals are expected.

Related Material

See also the core collections of the V&A Department of Theatre and Performance. Material relating to Michael Benthall's productions, as well as the 20th century theatre in general may be found in several collections, including the biographical, productions, company and photographs files.

Please ask for details.

Personal Names

Corporate Names