Sir Michael Balcon collection

Scope and Content

The collection comprises of correspondence by Sir Michael to Ida Wilson sister of the Antarctic explorer and naturalist Edward Adrian Wilson regarding the motion picture Scott of the Antarctic.

Administrative / Biographical History

Michael Elias Balcon was born on 19 May 1896 in Birmingham. Leaving grammar school in 1913, he worked for the Dunlop Rubber Company during the First World War. After the war, he co-founded a film distribution company, producing his first film Woman-to-Woman in 1922. In 1924, he formed the film company Gainsborough, which was later merged into the Gaumont-British Picture Corporation, and until 1936 Balcon was in charge of production. He was head of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer's production in Britain from 1936 until 1938, when he took charge of production at Associated Talking Pictures, renamed Ealing Studios soon afterwards, producing films during the 1940s and 1950s that achieved international success.

In 1948, the film Scott of the Antarctic was released, and in the same year, Balcon was knighted. After the BBC bought Ealing Studios, Balcon served as chairman of the Bryanston Company, a group of independent filmmakers, and as chairman of British Lion. He became a director of Border Television and served as governor of the British Film Institute. He died on 17 October 1977 at Upper Parrock, Sussex.


The correspondence is arranged chronologically.

Access Information

By appointment.

Some materials deposited at the Institute are NOT owned by the Institute. In such cases the archivist will advise about any requirements imposed by the owner. These may include seeking permission to read, extended closure, or other specific conditions.


Anyone wishing to consult material should ensure they note the entire MS reference and the name of the originator.

The term holograph is used when the item is wholly in the handwriting of the author. The term autograph is used when the author has signed the item.

Descriptions compiled by N. Boneham, Assistant Archivist with assistance from R. Stancombe and reference to Robert Keith Headland Antarctic Chronology, unpublished corrected revision of Chronological list of Antarctic expeditions and related historical events, (1 December 2001) Cambridge University Press (1989) ISBN 0521309034 and Dictionary of National Biography, 1971-1980, Oxford University Press, Oxford (1986) and Who was who, 1971-1980, A & C Black, London (1989) and Brit movies

Other Finding Aids

Clive Holland Manuscripts in the Scott Polar Research Institute, Cambridge, England - a catalogue, Garland Publishing New York and London (1982) ISBN 0824093941.

Additional finding aids are available at the Institute.

Conditions Governing Use

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Further accessions possible.