Papers of singer and teacher Nancy Evans, and writer and opera producer Eric Crozier

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

This collection comprises papers relating to the lives and professional careers of Nancy Evans and Eric Crozier, including;

Correspondence with composers, musicians, colleagues, agents, students, academics and other persons. The correspondents include Benjamin Britten (1946-c1972), Peter Pears (1970s and 1980s), E.M. Forster (1948-1970), John and Myfanwy Piper (1946-1949), Ralph Vaughan Williams (1953-1958), Malcolm Williamson (1965-1970s), John Mansfield Thomson (1970-1990), Leonard Thompson (1991-1992), Hugues Cuenod (c1982-1990), May Buckingham (1968-1993), Howard Ferguson (1954-1956), Gordon Crosse (1965-1968), Cissie Oppenheim (1965-1977), Edward Lowbury (1982-1991), Suzanne Danco (1985-1992), Mary Lago (1991-1994) and Winifred Ferrier (1953, 1987-1990).

There are drafts of Evans's and Crozier's biography entitled Ev'n so we met or After long pursuit, a transcript of an interview of Evans and Crozier by John Mansfield Thomson 1986, and photographs, programmes, press cuttings, printed and manuscript music, tape recordings, books and periodicals.

Notable items in the collection relating to Nancy Evans include press reviews (1933 onwards), diaries (1937-1998), programmes of BBC broadcasts (1943-1961), papers relating to professional engagements (1939-1997) including work with the Glyndebourne English Opera Group and the English Opera Group (1946-1953), notes and articles written by Evans including items about Britten, A Charm of Lullabies and The Rape of Lucretia, and papers relating to master classes, workshops and auditions including those held at the Britten-Pears School (1978-1996).

Eric Crozier's papers include diaries (1977-1993) and draft and printed versions of many of Crozier's articles and translations. These include notes and articles about aspects of opera production, Britten and Britten's operas, in particular Peter Grimes, The Little Sweep, Albert Herring, Billy Budd and The Rape of Lucretia. There are also transcripts of talks, interviews and BBC Radio 3 broadcasts including items about Billy Budd and Thomas Hardy, and a transcript of Crozier's interview with May and Robert Buckingham about E.M. Forster from 1971.

Administrative / Biographical History

Nancy Evans made her début in recital in Liverpool in 1933, singing for the first time in London a year later. Her stage début was in Sullivan's The Rose of Persia (1938, London); in 1939 she sang small roles at Covent Garden. During the war she sang widely for the Entertainments National Services Association. She joined what was to become the English Opera Group in 1946, alternating with Kathleen Ferrier in the title role of Britten's The Rape of Lucretia at Glyndebourne. In 1947 she created Nancy in Albert Herring, and later sang Polly in Britten's version of The Beggar's Opera, Purcell's Dido, and Lucinda Woodcock in Arne's Love in a Village. In 1968 she created the Poet and seven other characters in Malcolm Williamson's The Growing Castle. A noted concert singer, she was the dedicatee and first performer, at the 1948 Holland Festival, of Britten's A Charm of Lullabies; in recital she specialized in French and 20th-century British song repertory.

Eric Crozier was one of the first drama producers for BBC Television. Following the outbreak of World War II he worked first with Tyrone Guthrie at the Old Vic and then with Sadler's Wells. His first production for the company, The Bartered Bride in 1943, was followed in 1945 by Peter Grimes. After dissension arose within the organization he left and co-founded the English Opera Group in 1947 and the Aldeburgh Festival in 1948 with Britten, John Piper and Pears.

The success of Crozier's first libretto, Albert Herring (1947), led to further collaboration with Britten; Let's Make an Opera (1948), and, with E.M. Forster, Billy Budd (1951). Crozier also wrote the libretto for Lennox Berkeley's Ruth (1956) and directed the premières of Peter Grimes (1945, London; 1946, Tanglewood) and The Rape of Lucretia (1946, Glyndebourne). His opera translations include The Bartered Bride, Otello, Falstaff and La traviata (all with Joan Cross), Idomeneo, Salome and Die Frau ohne Schatten. Crozier also wrote books for children and was an accomplished broadcaster. He was a tutor at the Britten-Pears School for Advanced Musical Studies at Snape Maltings, with his wife, who succeeded Peter Pears as director.

Conditions Governing Access

Open for consultation. Please email to arrange an appointment to visit the reading room or for further queries.

Acquisition Information

The collection was acquired from Nancy's daughter in 2001.

Other Finding Aids

The collection is uncatalogued; however there is a preliminary list of accession 6747.

Related Material

In the Britten-Pears Foundation Archive:

Letters from Nancy Evans to Benjamin Britten 1948-1959, letters from Eric Crozier to Britten 1948-1974, and letters from Evans and Crozier to Peter Pears 1971-1978.


Consult the Britten-Pears Foundation library catalogue for details of books and published articles by Eric Crozier held at the Britten-Pears Foundation.

Consult Opera Quarterly 10/3-11/3 (1994/5) for the serialisation of Crozier's and Evans's autobiography 'After long pursuit'.