Nancy Evans and Eric Crozier papers

Scope and Content

This collection relates to the lives and professional careers of Nancy Evans and Eric Crozier, including writings, papers, correspondence, diaries, photographs, programmes, press cuttings, printed and manuscript music, printed librettos, tape recordings, books and periodicals.

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.

Access Information


This material is made available under the standard conditions of the Britten-Pears Foundation. Readers will be required to produce proof of identity and to sign a Reader's Undertaking form.

Other Finding Aids

The collection is partly catalogued. There is a preliminary list of accession 6747 (list 116).

Archivist's Note

Compiled by Judith Tydeman, Mar 2004; biographies based on entries by Harold Rosenthal and J.M. Thomson on Grove Music Online.

Custodial History

The majority of the collection was purchased from Nancy's daughter, Helga Andrew, in 2001. Some items were purchased from Sotheby's 28 May 1993 and 1 Dec 1994.

Related Material

In Britten's and Pears's correspondence there are letters from Nancy Evans to Britten 1948-1959, letters from Eric Crozier to Britten 1948-1974, and letters from Evans and Crozier to Peter Pears 1971-1978.

Collection ref no. MSC46 - correspondence from EM Forster to Eric Crozier, 1948-1969

Collection ref no. MSC54 - correspondence from Eric Crozier to Judy Smith, 1970-1981

Collection ref no. MSC58 - correspondence from Eric Crozier and Nancy Evans to James McDonald, 1977-2001

Some items marked Eric Crozier Collection are catalogued on the library catalogue.


Consult the 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'.For further information on Evans and Crozier, the reader is referred to the following articles which are available in the Archive reading room:'Profile: Nancy Evans' Aldeburgh Soundings, 2 (Spring 1985) by John Evans; obituaries of Evans in The Times (23 Aug 2000), Daily Telegraph (23 Aug 2000), The Independent (John Calder, 22 Aug 2000) and The Guardian (Tim McDonald, 24 Aug 2000); obituaries of Crozier in The Times (9 Sep 1994), Daily Telegraph (Michael Kennedy, 9 Sep 1994), The Independent (John Calder, 8 Sep 1994) and The Guardian (Philip Reed, 8 Sep 1994).