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THM/394 - Winifred Dolan Collection
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Winifred Dolan Collection

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This material is held at V&A Department of Theatre and Performance
Reference Number(s) GB 71 THM/394
Dates of Creation c.1867-1958
Name of Creator Winifred Dolan
Language of Material English
Physical Description 4 boxes (26 files, 19 items)

Scope and Content

Collection consists of handwritten and typed manuscripts for Dolan's autobiography A Chronicle of Small Beer, her biography of Sir Richard Whittington Whittington of London and a range of manuals and guides to theatrical production and stage management. There are also a variety of annotated prompt scripts as well as a guide for acting coaches, a book of music manuscripts and a book of poetry used by her to teach elocution to her pupils at New Hall. Also included is a collection of personal correspondence and photographs featuring autographed items from Ellen Terry and Henry Irving amongst others, and a small amount of other personal ephemera.

Administrative / Biographical History

Born in England in 1867, Winifred Dolan began her theatrical career in 1891, when she joined the company of the Margate Theatre Royal. Through her poet uncle Alfred Austin she came to meet Ellen Terry and Henry Irving, both of whom would later become friends and would go on to advise her throughout her career. She also maintained friendships with Edward Gordon Craig and Marion Terry amongst other theatrical luminaries. In 1891 she moved to London and joined St James' Theatre as an understudy, during which time she gained gradual recognition amongst her peers and theatre critics, but was never to establish herself as a successful lead actress. Her last performance on a public stage was in The Lion Hunter at the Imperial Theatre, 1901.

In 1896, on her return from a break from the stage spent in Paris, she was offered and accepted the post of secretary to George Alexander at St. James' Theatre. In the following years, when not acting, she also worked as a script-reader, a front-of-house manager, adapted novels for the stage and even wrote her own plays. Dolan struggled to have these taken up by theatres, but some were performed, notably Kynaston's Wife at St. James' Theatre and The Melcombe Marriage in Brighton, both in 1912.

Dolan retired in 1904 at the age of 35 and went to work as the secretary of the Women's Unionist Association. In 1918, Dolan's sister Aggie became Prioress at New Hall in Chelmsford, a convent with a school attached, and invited Dolan to become a lay teacher of drama and elocution. She accepted the post and went on to establish a dramatic tradition at the school which exists to this day. Dolan lived in a cottage on the New Hall grounds for many years and spent the last 12 years of her life living in the on-site infirmary due to ill-health. She died on 11th June 1958 and was buried in the Community cemetery.

Arrangement

This collection has been arranged into the following series:

  • THM/394/1 - A Chronicle of Small Beer manuscript
  • THM/394/2 - Production, Stage Management and Action Coach Guides
  • THM/394/3 - Shakespeare prompt scripts
  • THM/394/4 - Whittington of London Biography
  • THM/394/5 - New Hall teaching ephemera
  • THM/394/6 - New Hall prompt scripts
  • THM/394/7 - Personal Correspondence and Photographs
  • THM/394/8 - Theatre Programmes
  • THM/394/9 - Personal Ephemera

Conditions Governing Access

This archive is available for consultation in the V&A Department of Theatre & Perfomance's reading room, which is located at Blythe House, 23 Blythe Rd, Olympia, London, W14 0QX. The reading room is open Tuesday to Friday's 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

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

Appraisal Information

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

Acquisition Information

Purchased at Christie's auction, 14 December 2004

Accruals

No accruals expected.

Related Material

See also the core collections of the V&A Theatre and Performance Department. Material relating to Winifred Dolan may be found in the productions files, and a copy of her autobiography is held in the library collection.

The collection contains a Queen Victoria Brooch, which was removed and added to the museum object collection. The Museum reference number is S.1123-2011 and a record is available on Search the Collections

Please ask for details.

Personal Names

Dolan, Winifred. ( 1867 - 1958)
Terry, Marion. ( 1856 - 1930)
Craig, Edward Gordon. ( 1872 - 1966)
Alexander, George. ( 1858 - 1918)
Irving, Sir Henry. ( 1838 - 1905)
Terry, Dame Ellen. ( 1847 - 1928)

Cataloguing Info

Title Winifred Dolan Collection
Creation Created by Veronica Castro using the cheshire for archives ead creation tool 2011-03-07

A Chronicle of Small Beer manuscript

Reference Number(s) GB 71 THM/394/1
Dates of Creation 1951
Name of Creator Winifred Dolan
Physical Description 1 item

Scope and Content

Handwritten, hardback copy of Dolan's autobiography, A Chronicle of Small Beer. This was written towards the end of her life, by which time she was living in the Community Infirmary on the grounds of the New Hall school and convent. The volume is labelled on spine with title and name of author and '1951' is written on the following page, along with a selection of quotations. There is a brief prologue, explaining her reasons for writing her memoirs so late in life, which is undated (the edited version of her autobiography, published in 2010 by the Society for Theatre Research dates this prologue as May 1949). The first page holds a black and white studio portrait of Dolan, labelled 'St James' Theatre 1891' and the following page is inscribed: 'For private circulation only!'. Although mostly text-based, the book also features the following:

  • Portrait of Dolan, St James' Theatre, 1895.
  • Group image of the St James' Company at Balmoral, shows Dolan and George Alexander, amongst others, undated.
  • Set of publicity images for the 1897 production of The Tree of Knowledge, two of which show Dolan in her role of Deborah the maid.
  • Variety of images and sketches of both Ellen Terry and Henry Irving in a variety of roles, undated.

Personal Names

Alexander, George. ( 1858 - 1918)
Irving, Sir Henry. ( 1838 - 1905)
Terry, Dame Ellen. ( 1847 - 1928)

Geographical Names

New Hall, Chelmsford, Essex

Production, Stage Management and Acting Coach Guides

Reference Number(s) GB 71 THM/394/2
Dates of Creation c.1891-1958
Name of Creator Winifred Dolan
Physical Description 3 items and 1 file

Scope and Content

Collection of guides and manuals handwritten or typed by Dolan concerning theatrical production, stage management and acting coaching.


Guide to Amateur Theatrical Production

Reference Number(s) GB 71 THM/394/2/1
Dates of Creation c.1891-1958
Name of Creator Winifred Dolan
Physical Description 1 item

Scope and Content

Hardback book containing a handwritten and untitled guide to amateur theatrical production, with notes on everything from stage terminology to diction to lighting and props, with an emphasis on the works of Shakespeare. The last section is illustrated and focuses on classical art works as a source of inspiration for actors. Undated, 235 pages.


Guide to Stage Management

Reference Number(s) GB 71 THM/394/2/2
Dates of Creation c.1891-1958
Name of Creator Winifred Dolan
Physical Description 1 item

Scope and Content

Hardback book entitled Guide to Stage Management. Contains typed pages and includes hand-drawn stage plot diagrams. Undated, 127 pages.


Scene Shifters Manual

Reference Number(s) GB 71 THM/394/2/3
Dates of Creation c.1891-1958
Name of Creator Winifred Dolan
Physical Description 1 item

Scope and Content

Hardback book entitled Scene-Shifters Manual. Contains typed pages and includes hand-drawn stage plot diagrams. Undated, 39 pages.


Scene Plot diagrams

Reference Number(s) GB 71 THM/394/2/4
Dates of Creation c.1891-1958
Name of Creator Winifred Dolan
Physical Description 1 folder

Scope and Content

Set of six small hand-drawn scene plot diagrams for an unknown production. Also included is the envelope in which they were kept along with an additional (missing) diagram. All are listed on the envelope and all are undated.


Shakespeare prompt scripts

Reference Number(s) GB 71 THM/394/3
Dates of Creation c.1891-1958
Name of Creator Winifred Dolan
Physical Description 5 items

Scope and Content

Set of five annotated prompt scripts for Shakespeare plays, probably used for productions at New Hall School, Chelmsford.

Personal Names

Shakespeare, William. ( 1564 - 1616)

Geographical Names

New Hall, Chelmsford, Essex

The Merchant of Venice prompt script

Reference Number(s) GB 71 THM/394/3/1
Dates of Creation c.1891-1958
Name of Creator Winifred Dolan
Physical Description 1 item

Scope and Content

Hardback, heavily annotated and also includes some scene plot diagrams. Labelled on spine, undated.

Personal Names

Shakespeare, William. ( 1564 - 1616)

Richard II prompt script

Reference Number(s) GB 71 THM/394/3/2
Dates of Creation c.1891-1958
Name of Creator Winifred Dolan
Physical Description 1 item

Scope and Content

Hardback, featuring annotations and some scene plot diagrams. Labelled on spine, undated.

Personal Names

Shakespeare, William. ( 1564 - 1616)

Macbeth prompt script

Reference Number(s) GB 71 THM/394/3/3
Dates of Creation c.1891-1958
Name of Creator Winifred Dolan
Physical Description 1 item

Scope and Content

Hardback, featuring annotations and some scene plot diagrams. Labelled on front, undated.

Personal Names

Shakespeare, William. ( 1564 - 1616)

A Midsummer Night's Dream prompt script

Reference Number(s) GB 71 THM/394/3/4
Dates of Creation c.1891-1958
Name of Creator Winifred Dolan
Physical Description 1 item

Scope and Content

Hardback, featuring annotations, some scene plot diagrams and additional notes at the back. Labelled on spine, undated.

Personal Names

Shakespeare, William. ( 1564 - 1616)

Much Ado About Nothing prompt script

Reference Number(s) GB 71 THM/394/3/5
Dates of Creation c.1891-1958
Name of Creator Winifred Dolan
Physical Description 1 item

Scope and Content

Hardback, featuring annotations and some scene plot diagrams. Undated.

Personal Names

Shakespeare, William. ( 1564 - 1616)

Whittington of London Biography

Reference Number(s) GB 71 THM/394/4
Dates of Creation c.1891-1958
Name of Creator Winifred Dolan
Physical Description 3 items

Scope and Content

Set of manuscript and final copies of Dolan's biography of Richard Whittington.

Administrative / Biographical History

Sir Richard Whittington was a medieval merchant and politician, who was Lord Mayor of London four times. He was the original inspiration for the pantomime character Dick Whittington.

Personal Names

Whittington, Sir Richard. ( 1354 - 1423)

Whittington of London manuscripts

Reference Number(s) GB 71 THM/394/4/1
Dates of Creation c.1891-1958
Name of Creator Winifred Dolan
Physical Description 2 items

Scope and Content

Hardbound, typed manuscript copy of Dolan's biography of Richard Whittington: Whittington of London. The manuscript is in two volumes, and is edited within with blue pencil. Each book is labelled on spine and has a handwritten title on front. Volume 1 includes one loose page, handwritten.

Personal Names

Whittington, Sir Richard. ( 1354 - 1423)

Whittington of London book

Reference Number(s) GB 71 THM/394/4/2
Dates of Creation c.1891-1958
Name of Creator Winifred Dolan
Physical Description 1 item

Scope and Content

Hardback, typed final copy of Dolan's biography of Richard Whittington; Whittington of London. Book is labelled on spine, 407 pages.

Personal Names

Whittington, Sir Richard. ( 1354 - 1423)

New Hall teaching ephemera

Reference Number(s) GB 71 THM/394/5
Dates of Creation c.1918-1958
Name of Creator Winifred Dolan
Physical Description 2 items, 2 files

Scope and Content

Tools and materials used by Dolan during her time teaching drama and elocution at New Hall School, Chelmsford.

Personal Names

Shakespeare, William. ( 1564 - 1616)