Search within this description

Contents

THM/33 - Sybil Thorndike and Lewis Casson Archive
About this page

Sybil Thorndike and Lewis Casson Archive

Archives described on the Archives Hub are held in repositories across the UK

  • this Description
  • View XML | View Text
This material is held at V&A Department of Theatre and Performance
Reference Number(s) GB 71 THM/33
Dates of Creation 1865-1971
Name of Creator Sybil Thorndike and Lewis Casson
Language of Material English
Physical Description 8 boxes

Scope and Content

Scrapbooks of newspaper cuttings and photographs about actress Sybil Thorndike; her actor and producer husband Sir Lewis Casson and their daughters, Mary and Ann Casson who both acted from childhood. The majority are reviews of plays, including G.B. Shaw's St Joan and Major Barbara, but there are also articles by and about the Cassons. Heavily annotated rehearsal scripts pasted into scrapbooks for two productions of Macbeth, and G.B. Shaw's St Joan; copies of other plays and a book draft of Theatre Testament by Kay Poulton, for which Lewis Casson was writing the foreward. Various honours including honorary degrees and a medal from the ' Quinzaine Anglo-Americaine', in 1945. Items range in date from 1919-1971, though most are from between 1924 and 1930.

Administrative / Biographical History

Dame Sybil Thorndike and her husband Sir Lewis Casson were a popular and celebrated theatrical couple from the 1920s onwards. Both acted from an early age; Thorndike beginning her professional career with Ben Greet, Casson with Poel and the Vedrenne-Barker company at the Royal Court. They met acting in Annie Horniman's repertory company at the Gaiety Theatre Manchester and married in 1908. They moved to London and toured the USA before returning to Manchester where Casson directed his wife in a highly acclaimed production of Hindle Wakes. During the First World War Thorndike acted at the Old Vic (while Casson was in the army) and began to win critical recognition for her work. She followed this with a series of special performances of Greek plays and two years in Grand Guignol melodramas alongside her brother Russell and Casson (who also directed). Thorndike's next role was in Shaw's St Joan (written for her), widely regarded as the finest moment in a long career which saw her play a variety of parts with a range of celebrated co-stars (among them Olivier, Gielgud, Richardson and Ashrcoft). Casson continued to act occasionally but concentrated his energies on directing, helping to establish Equity, promoting CEMA and serving on the board of the Arts Council.

Arrangement

Arranged in to the following series:

  • THM/33/1 - Scrapbooks and cuttings
  • THM/33/2 - Honours including degrees, medals etc
  • THM/33/3 - Correspondence and legal documents
  • THM/33/4 - Miscellaneous papers
  • THM/33/5 - Photographs and images

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 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

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

Appraisal Information

This collection has been appraised according to departmental policy. Playscripts, books and gramophone records have been incorporated in to library and core collections.

Accruals

No further accruals expected.

Related Material

See also the core collections of the V&A Theatre and Performance Department. Material relating to Sybil Thorndike and Lewis Casson may be found in several collections, including the biographical, productions, company and photographs files. Related material may also be located in THM/34 James Bridie and John Casson Archive.

Please ask for details.

Cataloguing Info

Title Sybil Thorndike and Lewis Casson Archive
Sub-title Catalogue of records in the Victoria & Albert Museum: Department of Theatre and Performance
Author Catalogued by Kate Dorney
Revisions

Scrapbooks and cuttings

Reference Number(s) GB 71 THM/33/1
Dates of Creation 1919-1971
Physical Description 3 volumes and 3 folders

Scope and Content

Interviews and articles about Sybil Thorndike, Lewis Casson and their daughters, Ann and Mary. Articles include reviews of productions between 1929 and 1931 including: Major Barbara, Mariners, Jane Clegg and Medea, May 1929, all at the Wyndhams Theatre. The Donkey's Nose, Madame Plays Nap, The Devil, To Meet the King, Phædre, Fire in the Opera House, Ghosts, Socrates. Reviews of Othello with Paul Robeson and Peggy Ashcroft at the Savoy Theatre, May 1930, The Mystery of the Rose, The Squall, The Merchant of Venice with Lewis Casson as Shylock and Sybil Thorndike as Portia, St Joan in New York; The Silver Cord in Johannesburg.

Reviews of Russell Thorndike's biography of Sybil Thorndike. Other articles include Sybil Thorndike receiving an honorary doctorate from Manchester University November 1923; an article by G B Shaw on 'Improper Plays'. April 16, 1925; articles by Sybil Thorndike on The Old Vic and on The Merchant of Venice; A cartoon by Dominic Poelsma of Sybil Thorndike entitled ' Concluding English Worthies'.


Sybil Throndike and Lewis Casson press cuttings and reviews

Reference Number(s) GB 71 THM/33/1/1
Dates of Creation 1929
Physical Description 1 folder

Sybil Throndike and Lewis Casson scrapbook of reviews and cuttings

Reference Number(s) GB 71 THM/33/1/2
Dates of Creation 1929-1930
Physical Description 1 volume

Sybil Throndike and Lewis Casson scrapbook of reviews and cuttings

Reference Number(s) GB 71 THM/33/1/3
Dates of Creation 1930 August-1930 September
Physical Description 1 volume

Sybil Throndike and Lewis Casson press cuttings and reviews

Reference Number(s) GB 71 THM/33/1/4
Dates of Creation 1930-1931
Physical Description 1 folder

Sybil Throndike and Lewis Casson scrapbook of reviews and cuttings

Reference Number(s) GB 71 THM/33/1/5
Dates of Creation 1927-1969
Physical Description 1 volume

Sybil Throndike and Lewis Casson press cuttings and reviews

Reference Number(s) GB 71 THM/33/1/6
Dates of Creation 1945-1971
Physical Description 1 folder

Honours including degrees, medals etc

Reference Number(s) GB 71 THM/33/2
Dates of Creation 1924-1947. Most between 1929 and 1930.
Physical Description 1 box

Statutes of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, booklet

Reference Number(s) GB 71 THM/33/2/1
Dates of Creation 1924
Physical Description 1 pamphlet with 3 additional pages

Medal presented to Dame Sybil Thorndike

Reference Number(s) GB 71 THM/33/2/2
Dates of Creation 1945
Physical Description 1 box

Scope and Content

Inscribed medal presented to Dame Sybil Thorndike in Paris 1945 at the 15th 'Anglo American'. In presentation box.


Lewis Casson, honorary degree papers

Reference Number(s) GB 71 THM/33/2/3
Dates of Creation 1954 June 16
Physical Description 2 pages

Scope and Content

Certificate from Glasgow University awarding an honorary degree to Lewis Casson. 16 June 1954. In Latin. Enclosed is a copy of the speech made by the representative of the university who presented the degree. In presentation tube.


Lewis Casson, Honorary Fellowship certificates

Reference Number(s) GB 71 THM/33/2/4
Dates of Creation 1959 March 20
Physical Description 2 pages

Scope and Content

Certificate from the Imperial College of Science and Technology awarding an honorary fellowship to Sir Lewis Casson. 20 Mar 1959. Certificate from the University of Edinburgh awarding an honorary doctorate to Sybil Thorndike. 28 June 1929. In Latin. In presentation tube.


Lewis Casson, Honorary Doctorate papers

Reference Number(s) GB 71 THM/33/2/5
Dates of Creation 1954 June 16
Physical Description 1 pamphlet and 4 pages

Scope and Content

Documents relating to Lewis Casson being made an honorary doctor of law by Glasgow University on 16 June 1954. Includes order of service, 2 copies of the ceremony outline, a menu and a letter from the University inviting him to receive the honour. June 1954. In presentation tube.


Lewis Casson, Honorary Doctorate certificate

Reference Number(s) GB 71 THM/33/2/6
Dates of Creation 2 July 1965
Physical Description 1 page

Scope and Content

Certificate from the University of Southampton awarding an honorary doctorate to Dame Sybil Thorndike. In presentation tube.


Correspondence and legal documents

Reference Number(s) GB 71 THM/33/3
Dates of Creation [n.d.]
Physical Description 1 folder

Letter from John Masefield to Lewis Casson dated 28 Mar 1926.

Reference Number(s) GB 71 THM/33/3/1
Dates of Creation [n.d.]
Physical Description 1 item

Scope and Content

Originally enclosed with the script of The Trial of Jesus.


Poem For Saint Joan by Humbert Wolfe.

Reference Number(s) GB 71 THM/33/3/2
Dates of Creation [n.d.]
Physical Description 1 item

Scope and Content

Originally enclosed with the script of The Trojan Women by Euripides.


Letter from J[ohn] Casson to Patricia [Casson]

Reference Number(s) GB 71 THM/33/3/3
Dates of Creation [n.d.]
Physical Description 1 item

Legal agreement between Mr and Mrs J Casson and Sir L T Casson and Dame A S Casson for the loan and repayment of A£2000 Australian pounds.

Reference Number(s) GB 71 THM/33/3/4
Dates of Creation 1920 Mar
Physical Description 1 item

Miscellaneous papers

Reference Number(s) GB 71 THM/33/4
Dates of Creation 1962
Physical Description 1 file

Framed flyleaf to Admiral Guinea, by William Ernest Henley and Robert Louis Stevenson at the New Century Theatre (first performed 1897), with prologue on verso.

Reference Number(s) GB 71 THM/33/4/1
Dates of Creation [n.d.]
Physical Description 1 item

Copy of an epilogue by Ivor Brown spoken by Dame Sybil Thorndike DBE on 5 May 1962.

Reference Number(s) GB 71 THM/33/4/2
Dates of Creation 1962 May 5
Physical Description 1 item

Photographs and images

Reference Number(s) GB 71 THM/33/5
Dates of Creation 1895-1968
Physical Description 59 files and 2 volumes

Photographs of Sybil Thorndike,Lewis Casson and other individuals

Reference Number(s) GB 71 THM/33/5/1
Dates of Creation 1895-1968
Physical Description 13 files and 1 volume

Photograph of Sybil Thorndike as a child

Reference Number(s) GB 71 THM/33/5/1/1
Dates of Creation 1895
Physical Description 1 file (1 photograph)

Scope and Content

Copy of a photograph of Sybil Thorndike in costume for a Tambourine dance at Rochester Parish Theatricals.


Sybil Thorndike: miscellaneous portrait photographs

Reference Number(s) GB 71 THM/33/5/1/2
Dates of Creation c.1920s - 1970s, mainly 1920s -1930s
Physical Description 3 files, one of which is oversized (30 photographs)

Scope and Content

Mainly studio portraits, some signed by Sybil Thorndike.


Sybil Thorndike photographs: recitals

Reference Number(s) GB 71 THM/33/5/1/3
Dates of Creation [n.d.]
Physical Description 1 file

Sybil Thorndike photographs: receiving honorary degrees

Reference Number(s) GB 71 THM/33/5/1/4
Dates of Creation [n.d.]
Physical Description 1 file

Sybil Thorndike photographs: Gainsborough Conference

Reference Number(s) GB 71 THM/33/5/1/5
Dates of Creation 1968 Nov 8
Physical Description 1 file

Sybil Thorndike and Richard Burton, photographs

Reference Number(s) GB 71 THM/33/5/1/6
Dates of Creation [n.d.]
Physical Description 1 file