Sir Michael Redgrave Archive

Scope and Content

Scripts for plays in which Michael Redgrave appeared, as well as a number of typescripts for the various readings and recordings which he made throughout his career.

Administrative / Biographical History

Michael Redgrave was born on 20 March 1908, the child of actors Margaret (Daisy) Scudamore and Roy Redgrave. He studied at Cambridge University before becoming a teacher of modern languages at Cranleigh School, Surrey, where he spent much of his time directing and acting in amateur dramatic productions. His professional acting career began at the Liverpool Playhouse in 1934, where he met and married actress Rachel Kempson. They had three children, Vanessa, Corin, and Lynn, who later went on to have distinguished acting careers of their own. In 1936 Michael Redgrave joined the Old Vic where he played several prominent roles, including Orlando to Dame Edith Evans' Rosalind in As You Like It.

Redgrave moved into films in 1938, starring in Hitchcock's The Lady Vanishes. He went on to have a long film career, with films including The Dam Busters, The Browning Version,The Importance of Being Earnest, and Mourning Becomes Electra, for which he received an Oscar nomination. He continued to have equal success on the stage, taking leading Shakespearean roles with The Shakespeare Memorial Theatre Company (later the Royal Shakespeare Company) at Stratford-upon-Avon, as well as principal parts in plays in London and on Broadway . His prolific stage career continued well into his sixties, and he continued to work despite the onset of Parkinson's disease, touring throughout the United States, Europe, Australia and South Africa.

The author of several books and plays, Michael Redgrave was involved in virtually all aspects of the Theatre, directing the opening festival of the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre, Guildford and becoming president of Questors Theatre, London. He was appointed Commander of the British Empire in 1952 and Knighted in 1959. He died in 1985 after a long battle against Parkinson's disease.


The original working order of this archive had largely been lost. It has therefore been divided into 16 series:

  • THM/31/1 - Scrapbooks and photograph albums
  • THM/31/2 - Photographs, negatives, and slides
  • THM/31/3 - Correspondence
  • THM/31/4 - Diaries and notebooks
  • THM/31/5 - Articles, lectures and publications
  • THM/31/6 - Scripts and typescripts of readings
  • THM/31/7 - Contracts
  • THM/31/8 - Financial records
  • THM/31/9 - Sound recordings
  • THM/31/10 - Images: posters, playbills and drawings
  • THM/31/11 - Books
  • THM/31/12 - Programmes and brochures
  • THM/31/13 - Press cuttings
  • THM/31/14 - Sheet music
  • THM/31/15 - Magazines
  • THM/31/16 - Miscellaneous

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

The Sir Michael Redgrave Archive was acquired, catalogued, and conserved with the support of the Heritage Lottery Fund. Further funding for acquisition of the Sir Michael Redgrave Archive was given by the Friends of the National Libraries. The archive was purchased from Rachel Kempson (Lady Redgrave) in 2000.

Conditions Governing Use

Information on copying and commercial reproduction may be found here:

Appraisal Information

This collection was appraised in line with the collection management policy.

Custodial History

The archive was drawn together from various different sources prior to its sale to the Theatre Museum, including Rachel Kempson, Vanessa Redgrave, Corin Redgrave, Beattie and Co. (family solicitor), Mrs Joan Hirst (former secretary), and Anne Hutton Management.


No further accruals are expected.

Related Material

See also V&A Department of Theatre and Performance Core Collections: material relating to Michael Redgrave may be found in several collections, including biographical file, production files, company files and photographs. Please ask for details.


Findlater, Richard, Michael Redgrave, Actor. London: Heinemann, 1956. 170p., ill.

Kempson, Rachel, A Family and its Fortunes / Rachel Kempson, Lady Redgrave. London: Duckworth, 1986. 242p., [32]p. of plates, ill.

Redgrave, Corin, Michael Redgrave, My Father. London: R. Cohen, 1995. xiii, 176p., [16]p. of plates, ill., ports.

Redgrave, Michael, Sir, The Actor's Ways and Means. London: Heinemann, 1953. 90p., plates.

Redgrave, Michael, Sir, In My Mind's Eye. An Autobiography. London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1983. viii, 256p., [24]p. of plates. ill. ports.

Redgrave, Michael, Sir, Mask or Face; Reflections in an Actor's Mirror. London: Heinemann, 1958. 188p., ill.

Redgrave, Michael, Sir, Mountebank's Tale. London: Heinemann, 1959. 135p.