Clemence Dane, playwright and novelist: papers

Scope and Content

This collection consists of a selection of Clemence Dane's playscripts, screenplays, poems, radio scripts, correspondence, photographs, press cuttings including reviews and publications, programmes, novels, articles, lectures, speeches and broadcasts.

Administrative / Biographical History

Clemence Dane was born 21 February 1888 in Blackheath, Kent and educated in England, Germany and Switzerland. She began her life under the name of Winifred Ashton. After a period as an art student at Dresden and the Slade School she decided to try acting. Miss Clemence Dane appeared at the Criterion Theatre on 12 February, 1913, as Vera Lawrence in Eliza Comes to Stay. In those days she was known as Diana Cortis. Towards the end of World War she began her career as a writer. She took the pseudonym "Clemence Dane" from the church St Clement Dane in London. Her first novel, Regiment of Women, was published in 1917. Her third novel, Legend was made into a play, A Bill of Divorcement, produced at the St. Martin's in 1921 and later made into a film.

To the commercial stage Dane brought West End dramas like Naboth's Vineyard (1925), musicals with Richard Addinsell Come of Age, (1934) and Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass from Lewis Carroll, (1943 and 1948), adaptations such as The Happy Hypocrite from Sir Max Beerbohm, (1936) and a string of middle-class matinee plays, for example The Lion and the Unicorn, (1943) and Call Home the Heart (1947). She returned with Eighty in the Shade (1958) and The Godson (1964). Clemence Dane wrote a number of screenplays, with Edward Knoblock she wrote The Amateur Gentleman based on Jeffrey Farnol's Regency farrago, (1936). She also wrote Bonnie Prince Charlie (1948). She also wrote The Saviours: Seven Plays on one Theme (1940-41) and Don Carlos (adapted from Schiller, 1955) for the radio and in 1958 Till Time Shall End for BBC television.

Dane wrote fiction in collaboration with Helen Simpson and her bronze bust of Ivor Novello is in the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, London. She was the author of anthologies, including a book about the blitz The Shelter Book, 1940. She wrote London has a Garden about Covent Garden, where she lived for more than thirty years. She also wrote feminist essays such as The Women's Side, 1926. Her popular novels all dealt with the stage, for example Broome Stages (1931) and The Flower Girls (1954). Clemence Dane was made a CBE in 1953. By the time of her death in London, on 28 March 1965 Dane had written more than 30 plays and 16 novels.


These papers have been arranged in chronological order (except THM/120/10 Photographs of People and Places which is in alphabetical order) in the following series:

  • THM/120/1 - Playscript
  • THM/120/2 - Screenplays
  • THM/120/3 - Radio Scripts
  • THM/120/4 - Other Writings
  • THM/120/5 - Correspondence
  • THM/120/6 - Music Sheets and Song Lyrics
  • THM/120/7 - Programme, Booklets and posters
  • THM/120/8 - Press Cuttings
  • THM/120/9 - Production Photographs
  • THM/120/10 - Photographs of People and Places
  • THM/120/11 - Photographs of Objects

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:

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

Acquisition Information

Gift of the estate of Marius Goring, 1999.

Conditions Governing Use

Information on copying and commercial reproduction may be found here:

Custodial History

This material was received by Mrs Prudence Goring, widow of the actor Marius Goring.


No further accruals are expected.

Related Material

See also Theatre Museum Core Collections: material relating to Clemence Dane may be found in several collections, including Theatre Museum production files, biographical files, company files and photographs. Please ask for details.