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University of Texas at Austin

Edith Evans, 1888-1976

A Preliminary Inventory of her Papers at the Harry Ransom Center

Creator: Evans, Edith, 1888-1976
Title: Edith Evans Papers
Dates: 1893-1976 (bulk 1912-1956)
Extent: 21 document boxes, 1 oversize box, 10 bound volumes (11.00 linear feet)
Abstract: The archives of the English actress Dame Edith Evans include letters from her husband, Guy Booth, 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. The balance of the collection contains clippings, programs, autograph drafts of replies and working notes, scrapbooks of press cuttings, and presentation and acting copies of books and filmscripts.
Call Number: Performing Arts Collection PA-0127
Language: English
Note: This brief collection description is a preliminary inventory. The collection is not fully processed or cataloged; no biographical sketch, descriptions of series, or indexes are available in this inventory.
Access: Open for research

Administrative Information

Acquisition: Purchase, 1980 (R8980)
Processed by: Helen Adair, 2001-2002

Harry Ransom Center, The University of Texas at Austin

Scope and Contents

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), II. Theater Papers, 1899-1976 (15 boxes, 10 bound volumes), and III. Miscellaneous, 1893-1976 (1.5 boxes). Within each series, materials are arranged alphabetically by 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. Also included is an index of correspondents, perhaps compiled by Evans' biographer Bryan Forbes.
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 by Evans. The Publicity Materials subseries, 1899-1976, consists chiefly of photographs, programs, clippings, and scrapbooks of press cuttings. Nearly all of these materials pertain to performances by Evans. Item-level descriptions of the newspaper and magazine clippings are available in the Theatre Arts card catalog, and separate item-level lists of the newspaper clippings and the assorted poems and play 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 Evans' 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 of it is of a theatrical nature, e.g., theater programs for performances attended by Evans.

Related Material

The Ransom Center also holds Henry Hurford Janes' Collection of Edith Evans.

Separated Material

One film strip was transferred to the Film Collection in 2006.

Container List