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THM/375 - George Speaight Archive
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George Speaight Archive

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This material is held at V&A Department of Theatre and Performance
Reference Number(s) GB 71 THM/375
Dates of Creation ca. early 19th century-late 20th century
Name of Creator George Speaight
Language of Material English German
Physical Description 121 files

Scope and Content

Contains material relating to puppets in the form of press cuttings; images; leaflets; programmes; catalogues; greeting cards; postcards; invitations; food packaging; book jackets; transcripts; badge; notebook; bookmarks; card game; handkerchief; napkins; stationary; stamps; research material on puppets; notes; articles; correspondence; prints; photographs; papers relating to the History of English Puppet Theatre in the form of proofs, illustrations, and reviews; society papers and newsletters; and information on anniversaries of Punch & Judy.

Administrative / Biographical History

This collection of Punch and Judy prints, drawing, books and associated ephemera and research notes, was made by George Victor Speaight (1914-2005), one of the most distinguished historians of popular entertainment in Great Britain, a scrupulous researcher, superb writer, and avid collector whose main areas of interest were juvenile drama, circus, and puppetry. Four of his books are major works in the subjects of Punch and Judy, a History (1970), The History of the English Puppet Theatre (1955), Juvenile Drama (1946, reprinted in 1969 as The History of the English Puppet Theatre), and A History of the Circus (1980). He was a founder of the Society for Theatre Research from 1948, its chairman from 1959-1963, and vice-president until his death. He was the general editor of its publication Theatre Notebook for many years, a member of the praesidium of the Union Internationale de la Marionette, and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.

Born in Hatfield, Hertfordshire, George Speaight was also a toy theatre practitioner, and like his older brother, the actor Robert Speaight, a natural performer from an early age. His first role was that of the Page, in a family production of Romeo and Juliet, and he was introduced to juvenile drama as a child when his father returned with a toy theatre from Pollock's shop in Hoxton. He went on to give toy theatre performances to customers at Bumpus's bookshop in Oxford Street where he worked from 1932, when his father's bankruptcy denied him a university place. He gained practical experience with puppetry in 1939 when working with Olive Blackham's Roel Puppets in the Cotswolds, and in 1951 performed the Tiller Clowes Puppets at the Festival of Britain in 1951, having bought the troupe with Gerald Morice after the War. Later he did much to encourage the foundation of the Puppet Centre Trust in the Battersea Arts Centre in 1974, and on his retirement from Rainbird Books where he was an editor from 1960 to 1975, Speaight performed with the London Munich Puppet Players

In 1962 George Speaight initiated the celebrations to mark the tercentenary of the first known appearance of Punch in England, as recorded by Samuel Pepys. He organised the plaque on the wall of St. Paul's Church Covent Garden to mark the location of the performance, as well as a service in the church, a procession through Covent Garden and simultaneous performances by Punch and Judy professors. In the 1987 event, to mark the 325th anniversary of Punch, George Speaight took part in the procession as Samuel Pepys, complete with periwig, diary and quill pen. He once recalled his work on the Punch and Judy celebrations as one of the finest achievements of his life; his collection is another remarkable achievement in his celebration of Mr. Punch, like George Speaight himself, another quite unique British character.

Arrangement

Prior to the deposit of this archive at the V&A's Department of Theatre & Performance George Speaight had arranged part of his collection into labelled envelopes, where this was the case his arrangement has largely been retained. However, there was some loose material which needed to be sorted and in this case they were arranged by format. There was also some material stored by George Speaight in envelopes labelled miscellaneous, as this material was similar to the loose material it has also been arranged by format in order to make access to the collection easier. The archive has been arranged into the following series:

  • THM/375/1-Printed material relating to puppets, in particular Punch & Judy
  • THM/375/2- Memorabilia featuring puppets, in particular Punch & Judy
  • THM/375/3- Research material relating to puppets
  • THM/375/4- Papers relating to The History of English Puppet Theatre, also known as Punch & Judy: A History
  • THM/375/5- Societes and events relating to puppets and Punch & Judy
  • THM/375/6- Performance and educational material
  • THM/375/7- Papers relating to the provenance of the collection

Conditions Governing Access

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 search room using non-flash photography.

Acquisition Information

Gift in lieu from HM Treasury via Anthony and Margaret Speaight.

Custodial History

This archive was the personal collection of George Speaight, on his death it passed to his children Anthony and Margaret Speaight before being gifted to the V&A Department of Theatre and Performance.

Accruals

There will be no further accruals to this archive.

Related Material

Objects from the George Speaight collection were catalogued as museum objects and can be found on search the collections via the V&A website http://www.vam.ac.uk/ .

Books from the George Speaight collection can be found on the V&A Library catalogue.

See also the core collections of the V&A Department of Theatre and Performance. Material relating to George Speaight and puppets may be found in several collections, including the biographical, productions, company and photographs files.

Please ask for details.

Subjects

Puppets
Punch and Judy

Personal Names

Speaight, George. ( 1914-2005) puppeteer
Morice, Gerald

Corporate Names

Society for Theatre Research

Geographical Names

Hatfield (Hertfordshire, England)

Cataloguing Info

Title George Speaight Archive
Creation Created by Carys Lewis using the cheshire for archives ead creation tool 2010-10-04
Revisions

Printed material relating to puppets, in particular Punch & Judy

Reference Number(s) GB 71 THM/375/1
Dates of Creation ca. mid 19th century-late 20th century
Physical Description 16 files

Scope and Content

This series contains press cuttings, containing information on puppets; leaflets and adverts featuring the image of Punch; greetings cards, postcards, and invitations featuring puppets; packaging which features Punch and Judy; bookmarks and typescripts relating to the tale of Punch and Judy.


Press cuttings relating to puppets

Reference Number(s) GB 71 THM/375/1/1
Dates of Creation ca. mid 19th century-late 20th century
Physical Description 1 folder

Scope and Content

Contains press cuttings on puppets and Punch and Judy from various publications including: Country Life; The Daily Express; The Daily Mirror; The Daily Telegraph; The Graphic; The Illustrated London News; The New York Times; The Observer; Puppetry International; The Tatler; The Times.


Copy of the Dublin Journal

Reference Number(s) GB 71 THM/375/1/2
Dates of Creation Nov 09 1811
Physical Description 1 item

Scope and Content

Contains article about Punch on page 4, under heading Mrs Clarke.


Copies of Punch

Reference Number(s) GB 71 THM/375/1/3
Dates of Creation July 17 1841-Nov 15 1944
Physical Description 1 folder (6 items)

Scope and Content

Contains two copies of the first edition of Punch, one copy of the second edition, copy of edition dated December 31 1842, one loose press cutting which is undated, and cover for edition dated November 15 1944.


Copy of Private Eye

Reference Number(s) GB 71 THM/375/1/4
Dates of Creation Aug 07 1964
Physical Description 1 item

Scope and Content

Contains article on the magazine Punch.


Printed images of Punch & Judy

Reference Number(s) GB 71 THM/375/1/5
Dates of Creation ca. mid 19th century-late 20th century
Physical Description 1 folder

Scope and Content

This file contains prints featuring Punch & Judy, which appear to have originally been part of the illustrations used in books or journals.


Adverts featuring Punch & Judy

Reference Number(s) GB 71 THM/375/1/6
Dates of Creation ca. mid 20th century-late 20th century
Physical Description 1 folder

Scope and Content

Contains copies of adverts from magazines and newspapers which feature Punch.


Leaflets and Business Cards relating to puppet theatre

Reference Number(s) GB 71 THM/375/1/7
Dates of Creation ca. mid 20th century-late 20th century
Physical Description 1 folder

Scope and Content

Contains leaflets containing information on puppets and performances of Punch & Judy, and business cards of Punch & Judy professors.


Programmes for performances of Punch & Judy

Reference Number(s) GB 71 THM/375/1/8
Dates of Creation ca. early 20th century-late 20th century
Physical Description 1 folder

Scope and Content

Contains programmes, spanning a variety of venues and era's, which contain information on performances of Punch & Judy.


Sale and exhibition catalogues featuring puppets

Reference Number(s) GB 71 THM/375/1/9
Dates of Creation ca. mid 20th-late 20th century
Physical Description 1 folder

Scope and Content

Some of the catalogues contain only brief mentions of puppets, this is especially the case if the catalogue is for a large auction of an individuals property. However some of the other catalogues are for retailers who sell purely puppet related material.


Greetings cards featuring puppets

Reference Number(s) GB 71 THM/375/1/10
Dates of Creation ca. mid 20th-late 20th century
Physical Description 2 folders

Scope and Content

Contains primarily Christmas cards, but there are also some birthday cards, some of the cards contain games.


Postcards featuring puppets

Reference Number(s) GB 71 THM/375/1/11
Dates of Creation ca. early 20th century-late 20th century
Physical Description 1 folder

Scope and Content

Some of the postcards are addressed to George Speaight or members of his family, whilst the rest are either addressed to unknown individuals or are blank.


Invitations featuring Punch & Judy

Reference Number(s) GB 71 THM/375/1/12
Dates of Creation ca. mid 20th century-late 20th century
Physical Description 1 folder

Scope and Content

Most of the invitations are for specific events related to Punch & Judy, but one item is a blank invitation which would typically have been used as a childs party invitation.


Food packaging containing images of puppets

Reference Number(s) GB 71 THM/375/1/13
Dates of Creation ca. mid 20th century-late 20th century
Physical Description 1 folder

Scope and Content

This file contains empty food wrappers which feature either images or words associated with puppets, in particulat Punch & Judy. Some of the packing Punch appeared on includes Cadbury's Easter Egg's; Shreddies cereal; and Marmite.


Movable cardboard figures of Punch & Judy characters

Reference Number(s) GB 71 THM/375/1/14
Dates of Creation ca. 1950
Physical Description 1 folder

Scope and Content

These figures were originally produced by a tobacco company.


Book jackets and publicity for books on Puppets

Reference Number(s) GB 71 THM/375/1/15
Dates of Creation ca. mid 20th century-late 20th century
Physical Description 1 folder

Scope and Content

Contains book jackets, some of which contain excerpts of text from the book on the inside pages suggesting they were used for publicity purposes, and flyers advertising new books on puppets.


Transcripts relating to Punch & Judy

Reference Number(s) GB 71 THM/375/1/16
Dates of Creation ca. late nineteenth century-mid twentieth century
Physical Description 1 folder

Scope and Content

Contains the following typescripts: The Book of Punch & Judy; The Factory Girl of Manchester; Little Walks in London ; Punch & Judy.

The typescript of The Book of Punch & Judy is a photocopy which has faded over time and its pages have stuck together, therefore not much information can be gathered from it.


Memorabilia featuring puppets, in particular Punch & Judy

Reference Number(s) GB 71 THM/375/2
Dates of Creation ca. 1950's-2000's
Physical Description 8 files

Scope and Content

This series contains memorabilia such as a badge, notebook, bookmarks, card game, handkerchief, napkins, stationary, and stamps featuring designs of puppets.


Badge with design of Punch & Judy

Reference Number(s) GB 71 THM/375/2/1
Dates of Creation ca. 1970's-1980's
Physical Description 1 item

Notebook, the cover of which is a design of Punch & Judy

Reference Number(s) GB 71 THM/375/2/2
Dates of Creation 1980
Physical Description 1 item

Scope and Content

The contents of the notebook are blank.


Bookmarks, containing Punch & Judy designs

Reference Number(s) GB 71 THM/375/2/3
Dates of Creation ca. 1980's-1990's
Physical Description 1 folder (3 items)

Scope and Content

One of the bookmarks is handmade, whilst another contains information on Punch & Judy.


Punch & Judy card game

Reference Number(s) GB 71 THM/375/2/4
Dates of Creation ca. 1960's
Physical Description 1 folder