One of the finest actresses of her time, Edith Evans began her career as a milliner
in London before making her first stage appearance as an amateur under William
Poel's direction. Subsequently she toured with Ellen Terry as a professional
actress. She joined the Old Vic Company for the 1925-26 season where her roles
included Portia, Rosalind, Beatrice, and the Nurse in Romeo
and Juliet. Outstanding parts in her distinguished stage and film career
were in The Way of the World (1924), The Chalk Garden (1964), and The
Whisperers (1967); she portrayed her most famous role, Lady Bracknell in
Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest, on stage in
1939 and on film in 1952. In 1946 she was made D.B.E. Evans gave her last stage
performance at the age of 85 in a one-woman show at the Haymarket, "Edith Evans ... and Friends."
The bulk of the Edith Evans Papers consists of correspondence, clippings, scrapbooks,
and performance-related materials such as rehearsal copies of playscripts. The
papers are arranged in three series: I. Correspondence, 1910-1976 (5.5 boxes),
Theater Papers, 1899-1976 (15 boxes, 10 bound volumes), and III. Miscellaneous,
1893-1976 (1.5 boxes). Within each series, materials are arranged alphabetically
title or subject, with some materials further sorted chronologically.
The Correspondence series consists of incoming correspondence from Evan's husband,
Guy Booth, her parents, and from Margot Asquith, Enid Bagnold, Noel Coward, John
Gielgud, Katharine Hepburn, George Moore, Terence Rattigan, George Bernard Shaw,
Edith Sitwell, Ellen Terry, Sybil Thorndike, and Thornton Wilder, among others.
included is an index of correspondents, perhaps compiled by Evans' biographer
The Theater Papers series is divided into four subseries. Subseries A. Performance
Texts and Works, 1937-1973, contains marked rehearsal copies, presentation copies,
and typescripts for stage and film projects, poems, radio broadcasts, and works
Evans. The Publicity Materials subseries, 1899-1976, consists chiefly of
photographs, programs, clippings, and scrapbooks of press cuttings. Nearly all
these materials pertain to performances by Evans. Item-level descriptions of the
newspaper and magazine clippings are available in the Theatre Arts card catalog,
separate item-level lists of the newspaper clippings and the assorted poems and
excerpts are also available. Subseries C. Administrative and Financial Records,
1920-1971, includes weekly financial summaries for The Chalk
Garden and The Millionairess as well as
contracts and lists of tour dates and production personnel for other productions.
The Sponsorship of Others subseries, 1952-1968, contains materials related to
charitable activities, nearly all of which supported theater professionals.
The Miscellaneous Series, 1893-1976, includes papers of the Evans and Booth families,
Evans' honorary degrees, and other materials collected by Evans. Although the
material in this series is not directly related to Evans' work as an actor, much
it is of a theatrical nature, e.g., theater programs for performances attended