The Winifred Edwards Collection

Scope and Content

This collection includes a small amount of correspondence between Edwards and a number of persons relating to the Sadler's Wells Ballet School, including Ninette de Valois, Adeline Genée and Margot Fonteyn. It also includes records of Edwards' first full contract with the School (August 1948), and her own account of joining the staff after the Summer School of 1947, and de Valois’ advice on retaining her English name. Also her brief handwritten recollections of Anna Pavlova and Vaslav Nijinsky's performances in London (undated). It contains a large (28x37x14cm) scrapbook which charts the progress of ballet in 20th century England (1910-51), with further separate articles and photographs (1922-59), originally given by Edwards to her former student, Deanne Bergsma. There are several personal artefacts: accessories worn by Edwards when she attended performances at the Royal Opera House, and which she later gave to her colleague, Valerie Adams.

A large scrapbook (1910 – 1951) includes news cuttings, magazine articles, postcards (some inscribed by their subjects), and other memorabilia featuring Anna Pavlova and individual members of her Company (1910-13); programmes and articles from the first London seasons of the Diaghilev Ballets Russes (1911-13), and various London theatre playbills of the same period. There are rare photographs of Enrico Cecchetti, Phyllis Bedells and Alexander Genée.

The scrapbook resumes briefly in the mid-1930s, then continues from 1946, with assorted material about the Sadler’s Wells Ballet reopening the Royal Opera House with Petipa’s The Sleeping Beauty (February 1946) and the production of Purcell’s The Fairy Queen (December 1946) at the same theatre. Extensive coverage of the Sadler’s Wells (later The Royal) Ballet continues throughout the remainder of the scrapbook, with many news cuttings and reviews, particularly of the Company’s second American Tour (1950).

There are notable illustrated articles on Jean Bedells, Leonide Massine, Margot Fonteyn (Time Magazine, 14 November 1949, and Newsweek, 13 November 1950), Ninette de Valois (The New Yorker, 16 September 1950). Also some loose material originally inserted at the back of the scrapbook, including an illustrated article on Diaghilev’s London Alhambra production of The Sleeping Princess (1921) in the journal, The Sphere (18/02/1922), and a photograph of Rowena Jackson inscribed to Miss Edwards (1959).

There are programmes and extensive newscuttings from the London Seasons of Les Ballet des Champs-Elysées, International Ballet, the Original Ballet Russe [of Colonel de Basil], Ram Gopal, The English Folk Song and Dance Society, Katherine Dunham, the Grand Ballet de Marquis de Cuevas, Metropolitan Ballet, the Markova-Dolin Ballet, (1946-1949). The next section of the scrapbook continues with coverage of New York City Ballet and the American National Ballet Theatre in London (1950) and the Festival Ballet (1951).

There are several personal artefacts: accessories often worn by Edwards when she attended performances at the Royal Opera House: a pair of long kid gloves, a black lace veil, a small silver magnifying glass, and a pair of opera glasses.

Administrative / Biographical History

Winifred Edwards, stage-name Vera Fredova [Fredowa], (b. London 1895, d. 12 February 1989) was an English dancer and ballet teacher. A pupil of Miss Hutton Moss, Freda Gaunt, Cormani, Mossolova, Cecchetti and Clustine, she was a member of Anna Pavlova’s Company from 1912-16. She then joined the American ballet company run by Theodore Koslov [Kosloff] in 1916, later becoming a teacher and partner at Koslov’s schools based in San Francisco and Dallas (1919-34). After returning to the UK, she passed the Advanced Teacher's Examination of the Royal Academy of Dancing (later Royal Academy of Dance) on 06 June 1947. She started teaching at the Sadler's Wells Ballet School (S.W.B.S) in September 1947, under Arnold Haskell's directorship, where she remained a key member of the teaching faculty until 1955, returning to become Senior Mistress 1959-61. She also taught at the Royal Academy of Dance until 1963, after which she continued to teach privately. Edwards chose to teach under her maiden name, rather than her stage name of Fredova. Antoinette Sibley, Lynn Seymour and Deanne Bergsma were among Edwards’ many notable students at the S.W.B.S. Bibl. G.B.L. Wilson, A Dictionary of Ballet, Third Edition, Adam & Charles Black, London, 1974.

Access Information

This collection is open for consultation and can be viewed by appointment only. Please contact White Lodge Museum via our website at The Royal Ballet School, White Lodge Museum

Acquisition Information

Correspondence and other documents, provenance and date not recorded

Scrapbook given by Winifred Edwards to Deanne Bergsma, who donated it to The Royal Ballet School Collections, 2009

Personal accessories given by Winifred Edwards to Valerie Adams, who donated it to The Royal Ballet School Collections, 2012