The archive of Dame Gwen Ffrangcon-Davies

Item author: Dame Gwen Ffrangcon-Davie
Item date: 1891-1990
Grant Value: £8,000
Item cost: £20,000
Item date acquired: 2014
Item institution: Victoria & Albert Museum, Dept of Theatre & Performance
Town/City: London
London borough: RB Kensington & Chelsea

Born in 1891, Gwen Ffrangcon-Davies enjoyed an illustrious theatrical career, which saw her working with some of the UK’s leading actors and companies throughout the twentieth century. She is best known as performing with John Gielgud in Shakespeare’s plays and also starred alongside Ivor Novello, Alan Bates and Peggy Ashcroft. She performed in works by many leading playwrights, including Noel Coward, Eugene O’Neill, Terence Rattigan, Tennessee Williams, Chekhov, T.S. Eliot and G.B. Shaw. Retiring from the stage in the 1970s, she continued to occasionally appear on radio and television, her final appearance being at the age of 100. She died in 1992, aged 101.

The collection offers a compelling insight into Gwen Ffrangcon-Davies’ professional and personal life, as well as the performing arts scene of her time. There is correspondence with most of the leading performers and writers, including John Gielgud, Vivien Leigh, Ellen Terry, Edward Gordon Craig, Ian McKellen and Peggy Ashcroft. Photograph and press cutting albums further illustrate the career of this remarkable British actress. Her diaries, address books and memorabilia including some belonging to her father, the baritone David Ffrangcon-Davies, provide further insight into her life.