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THM/223 - Tom Taylor Collection

Tom Taylor Collection

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This material is held atV&A Department of Theatre and Performance
Reference Number(s)GB 71 THM/223
Dates of Creationc. 1950s - 1980s
Name of CreatorTom Taylor
Language of Material English
Physical Description 31 boxes (169 folders, 21 volumes and 2 items)

Scope and Content

This collection consists of materials collected by Jack Reading relating to the life and works of English dramatist Tom Taylor. It includes original working drafts and final drafts of play-texts, notebooks, sketchbooks, images and scrapbooks and personal ephemera. Also included are materials relating to Jack Reading and his research into Tom Taylor, highlighting some of Reading's work processes and his methods of acquiring materials. Additional research and contextual notes accompany most of the play-texts: each handwritten script comes with a page of notes which features details and research notes relating to the text. These were added by Jack Reading in 1964.

Administrative / Biographical History

Jack Reading

Jack Reading was born in 1916 in London. After gaining a degree in English from UCL he worked for a time as a bookseller, edited the World of Art magazine and served on the Miner's Welfare Committee. During the Second World War he went on to serve in the armed forces, rising through the ranks to become a Staff Sergeant and later gained a Commission, eventually leaving in 1946 as a Captain.

After being demobbed he returned to working in the mining industry, eventually working in its Social Welfare department. During this same period, in a voluntary capacity, Jack Reading pursued an interest in theatre and theatre history. He was a founder member of the Society for Theatre Research and the International Federation for Theatre Research. He served as a permanent member on the Executive Committee responsible for membership and performed similar duties for its sister organisation, the International Association of Libraries and Museums of Performing Arts.

In 1955, Jack Reading helped to spearhead a campaign for the establishment of a Theatre Museum in the UK and later became a trustee of the Theatre Museum Association. He gave his entire library of theatre material to the Templeman Library, University of Kent at Canterbury, where it forms the Reading-Rayner Collection.

Jack Reading died in August 2004 aged 88.

Tom Taylor

Perhaps the most popular playwright of the Victorian era, Tom Taylor was born in 1817 in what is now Sunderland, north-east England. Following his studies at Trinity College, Cambridge, Taylor moved to London to embark on a career as a journalist, writing for the Morning Chronicle and the Daily News. He worked at Punch magazine until 1874, where he rose to the position of editor and wrote art criticism columns for The Times and The Graphic. He would also go on to publish and edit books on a number of British painters, namely Joshua Reynolds, Charles R. Leslie and Benjamin R. Haydon.

In addition to his journalism career, Taylor served as Professor of English Literature at University College London for a time and trained as a lawyer, being called to the Bar at Middle Temple in 1846. In 1850 he was appointed assistant secretary at the Board of Health. During this period he also established himself as a dramatist, having early works and burlesques staged by Mary Anne and Robert Keeley, who were then managing the Lyceum Theatre London. His first major success, To Parents and Guardians was staged there in 1845.

During the 1850s he wrote or co-wrote over thirty comic works, notably those written with Charles Reade, including Masks and Faces in 1852, and Two Loves and a Life and The King's Rival in 1854. A self-confessed populist, his intention was to create plays his audiences would enjoy, and many of his works were adaptations of existing French plays, or dramatisations of the novels of Charles Dickens or other popular novels of the time.

He was also a prolific writer of dramatic works, with Our American Cousin arguably being his best known, being the play Abraham Lincoln was watching the night he was assassinated at Ford's Theatre, Washington D.C in 1865.

Some of his most successful theatrical works included Plot and Passion (1853), Still Waters Run Deep (1855), The Ticket of Leave Man (1863), Arkwright's Wife (1873), and historical dramas such as Clancarty's Wife (1874) and The Fool's Revenge, which opened the Queen's Theatre in 1869.

Taylor is also known to have acted in several productions, and in 1879 played Adam in As You Like It at a memorial-fund performance in Manchester.

Taylor married Laura Barker in 1855, and together they had two children; Lucy and Wycliffe. An accomplished musical composer, Taylor's wife wrote the musical accompaniment to his 1971 work Joan of Arc. Tom Taylor died in 1880 and Laura Taylor died in 1905.

Arrangement

This collection has been arranged into the following series:

  • THM/223/1 - Jack Reading materials
  • THM/223/2 - Tom Taylor materials

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is available for consultation in the V&A Department of Theatre and Performance's Reading Room, which is located at Blythe House, 23 Blythe Rd, Olympia, London, W14 0QX. The Reading Room is open Tuesday to Friday between 10.15 am and 4.30 pm. Access to it is by appointment only. To request an appointment please email tmenquiries@vam.ac.uk or telephone 020 7942 2698.

Access to some of these files may be restricted. These are identified at file level.

Conditions Governing Use

Archival material may not be photocopied. Arrangements can be made to photograph material in the reading room using non-flash photography.

Appraisal Information

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

The following books have been removed from the collection and added to the V&A Theatre and Performance department library collection :

  • Hardback copy of the untitled memoirs of Rev. W.T. Kingsley by E.W. Naylor, inscribed on front cover "Wycliffe & Frida from Lucy - 1918".
  • Copy of the Proceedings of the Thirteenth Anniversary Festival of the Royal General Theatrical Fund, with W.M. Thackeray as the chair. Dated 1858.
  • Hardback copy of Leicester Square, by Tom Taylor, published by Bickers and Son, London, 1874.
  • Hardback copy of Tom Taylor's Historical Dramas, published by Chatto and Windus, London, 1877.
  • Hardback copy of Tom Taylor and the Victorian Drama, by Winton Tolles, published by AMS Press inc., New York, 1966.
  • Hardback copy of Tom Taylor and the Victorian Drama, by Winton Tolles, published by Columbia University Press, New York, 1940.
  • Copy of Pictures of English Landscape, by Birket Foster with accompanying preface and poems by Taylor, published by Routledge, 1862. This copy is inscribed on inside front cover: "Ellen Mary Higham, With Uncle Tom's Best Wishes, July 13th 1875."

This collection contained many art exhibition catalogues and printed exhibition reviews, which have been removed from the collection and disposed off. A small numbers of unrelated periodical issues have also been removed and disposed off

Acquisition Information

This collection was acquired by the BTMA, which formed one of the founding collections of the Theatre Museum on its opening in 1974.

Accruals

No further accruals are expected.

Related Material

See also the core collections of the V&A Theatre and Performance Department. Material relating to the work of Tom Taylor may be found in productions files and the library.

Please ask for details.

Personal Names

Taylor,  Tom. ( 1817-1880) 
Reading,  Jack. ( 1916 - 2004) 
Taylor,  Lucy
Reade,  Charles. ( 1814 - 1884) 
Keely,  Mary Ann. ( 1805 - 1899) 
Keely,  Robert. ( 1793 - 1869) 
Reynolds,  Joshua. ( 1723 - 1792) 
Leslie,  Charles. ( 1794 - 1859) 
Haydon,  Benjamin. ( 1786 - 1846) 
Taylor,  Wycliffe. ( 1859 - 1925) 
Taylor,  Laura. ( d. 1905) 

Cataloguing Info

TitleTom Taylor Collection
CreationCreated by Veronica Castro using the cheshire for archives ead creation tool 2011-11-09
Revisions

Jack Reading materials

Reference Number(s)GB 71 THM/223/1
Dates of Creationc. 1950s - 1980s
Physical Description 1 box (5 folders)

Scope and Content

These folders contain research materials collected or written by Jack Reading on the life and works of Tom Taylor.

Personal Names

Reading,  Jack. ( 1916 - 2004) 

General research materials

Reference Number(s)THM/223/1/1
Dates of Creationc. 1950s - 1980s
Physical Description 1 folder

Scope and Content

This folder contains a variety of research materials collected or written by Jack Reading. Notable materials include:

  • Biographical notes on Laura Taylor written by a Ms Helps (mother-in-law to Laura Taylor's grandchild.). Carries accompanying explanatory letter, dated 1966.
  • Map detail of the location of Tom Taylor's grave, undated.
  • Copy of an image of a painting of Ellen and Kate Terry, painted by Laura Taylor, undated.
  • Auction details regarding a painting by John Everett Millais of Taylor's son Wycliffe, undated.

Personal Names

Wycliffe,  John
Reading,  Jack. ( 1916 - 2004) 
Terry,  Kate. ( 1844 - 1924) 
Millais,  John Everett. ( 1829 - 1896) 
Terry,  Ellen. ( 1847 - 1928) 
Taylor,  Laura. ( ???? - 1905) 

Tom Taylor correspondence-specific research

Reference Number(s)THM/223/1/2
Dates of Creationc. 1950s - 1980s
Physical Description 1 folder

Scope and Content

This folder contains research materials related to the aquisition of original Tom Taylor correspondence by Jack Reading. Also included are photocopies of various original 19th century letters.

Personal Names

Reading,  Jack. ( 1916 - 2004) 

Play script list

Reference Number(s)THM/223/1/3
Dates of Creation1964
Physical Description 1 folder

Scope and Content

This folder contains a detailed list of the play scripts collected by Jack Reading and his colleague Colin Raynor, including detailed research notes on each of the scripts (these notes are also included, where applicable, in the relevant Handwritten play scripts files [THM/223/2/1/1-69]).

Personal Names

Raynor,  Colin
Reading,  Jack. ( 1916 - 2004) 

Correspondence

Reference Number(s)THM/223/1/4
Dates of Creationc. 1960s - 1980s
Physical Description 2 folders

Scope and Content

These folders contain letters between Jack Reading and a number of correspondents regarding Reading's research into the life and career of Tom Taylor. Dated materials range from 1964 - 1986.

Conditions Governing Access

Part of this file is closed under the Data Protection Act 1998 until 01/01/2063.


Tom Taylor Materials

Reference Number(s)GB 71 THM/223/2
Dates of Creationc. 1830s - 1920s
Physical Description 30 boxes (164 folders, 21 volumes and 2 items)

Scope and Content

These folders contain handwritten play scripts and other written work by Tom Taylor, as well as correspondence, sketchbooks, scrapbooks, photograph albums and images, promotional production materials, legal and business papers and a collection of personal effects belonging to Tom Taylor.


Handwritten play scripts

Reference Number(s)GB 71 THM/223/2/1
Dates of Creationc. 1840s - 1870s
Physical Description 82 folders

Scope and Content

These files contain original handwritten play scripts, works-in-progress and drafts of theatrical works by Tom Taylor, as well as a few collaborative works and one work by another author with ammendments by Taylor. Many drafts feature annotations and other evidence of editing and corrections.

Most of these files contain detailed research notes made by Jack Reading and his colleague Colin Raynor in 1964. These notes mention alternative titles and the total number of pages of each play script, as well as notes referring to their contents, levels of annotation and some contextual information.

Arrangement

Since the play scripts are undated, they have been catalogued in alphabetical order. Where more than one title was given, the title given by Reading in his notes, or the most prominent has been used as the file title. In a few instances this has not been the case, and these are explained fully at file level. Alternative titles may be found in the Scope and Content of the individual files, as they occur.

Personal Names

Reading,  Jack. ( 1912 - 2004) 
Raynor,  Colin

A Duke in Difficulties, Tom Taylor

Reference Number(s)THM/223/2/1/1
Dates of Creationc. 1840s - 1870s
Physical Description 1 folder

Scope and Content

This folder contains a draft of A Duke in Difficulties, an original comedy in three acts. Also included are notes featuring a synopsis of the play. All undated.

Courtier and Comedian is given as an alternative title.

Administrative / Biographical History

This work was first performed at the Haymarket Theatre, London, 6 Mar 1861.

Geographical Names

Haymarket Theatre, London

A Friend at Court, Tom Taylor

Reference Number(s)THM/223/2/1/2
Dates of Creationc. 1840s - 1870s
Physical Description 1 folder

Scope and Content

This folder contains a draft of My friend at Court or My Two Rivals. Each act is in a bound paper book. Undated.


A Garden Plot, Tom Taylor

Reference Number(s)THM/223/2/1/3
Dates of Creationc. 1840s - 1870s
Physical Description 1 folder

Scope and Content

This folder contains a draft of A Garden Plot or Trumping a Trick, an original operetta in one act, each act is in a separately bound paper book. The cover features a series of pencil and ink sketches of a horse and three faces. Undated.

Arcades Ambo, Arcadiamin 1767 and Love in a Cottage are listed as alternative titles.


A Homeopathic Cure, Tom Taylor

Reference Number(s)THM/223/2/1/4
Dates of Creationc. 1840s - 1870s
Physical Description 2 folders

Scope and Content

These folders contain the following:

  • Set of notes featuring scene-by scene synopses for A Homeopathic Cure. Undated.
  • Two drafts of A Homeopathic Cure, annotated and undated.
  • Final draft, undated.
  • Nine sets of notes, each is labelled on cover with the name of a character and contains the corresponding acting parts. Undated.

This work is noted as being an original comedy in both two and three acts.


A Lesson For Life, Tom Taylor

Reference Number(s)THM/223/2/1/5
Dates of Creationc. 1840s - 1870s
Physical Description 2 folders

Scope and Content

These folders contain the following:

  • Draft of A Lesson For Life, an original comedy in 3 acts, each act in a separately bound paper book. Undated.
  • Draft of A Lesson For Life, an original comedy in 3 acts. Also included in the file is an unidentified acting part, bound in card. Both items are undated.

The Wise Tooth or The Frog and the Bull and The Wise Tooth or The Frog and the Ox are given as alternative titles.

Administrative / Biographical History

This work was first performed at the Lyceum Theatre, London, 18 Jul 1860.

Geographical Names

Lyceum Theatre, London

A Misalliance, Tom Taylor

Reference Number(s)THM/223/2/1/6
Dates of Creationc. 1840s - 1870s
Physical Description 1 folder

Scope and Content

This folder contains a set of notes on the plot and a cast list for A Misalliance or Love Levels All. Undated.

Administrative / Biographical History

The first performance of the finished work, titled The Serf or Love Levels All was at the Olympic Theatre, London, 30 Jun 1865.

Geographical Names

Olympic Theatre, London