Vivien Leigh

Vivien Leigh: Public Faces, Private Lives, Treasurer’s House, York, until 20 December 2015

The original costumes standing proud in the historic hall © National Trust / North News Agency

The original costumes standing proud in the historic hall
© National Trust / North News Agency

Vivien Leigh was theatrical royalty in Britain before going to Hollywood to undertake the role of Scarlett O’Hara in Gone With The Wind – the role with which she is most closely associated along with her later incarnation of Blanche Dubois in A Streetcar Named Desire.

Keith Lodwick, Curator, Department of Theatre and Performance, Victoria and Albert Museum, London finishing the hang in the Streetcar Named Desire room © National Trust / North News Agency

Keith Lodwick, Curator, Department of Theatre and Performance, Victoria and Albert Museum, London finishing the hang in the Streetcar Named Desire room
© National Trust / North News Agency

She is the subject of this exhibition, organised by the V&A, in the historic setting of Treasurer’s House in York, the former home of early 20th century businessman Frank Green, who had a passion for the arts, especially theatre.  Although there has been a small touring exhibition this is the first major display of objects from Vivien Leigh’s personal collection since her private archive of more than 10,000 items was acquired from her family in 2013 by the Victoria & Albert Museum.

Keith Lodwick, Curator, Department of Theatre and Performance, Victoria and Albert Museum, London checking out the names in the guest book of from the Olivier home © National Trust / North News Agency

Keith Lodwick, Curator, Department of Theatre and Performance, Victoria and Albert Museum, London checking out the names in the guest book of from the Olivier home
© National Trust / North News Agency

Her romance with Laurence Olivier scandalised society even though they later married and she became Lady Olivier when Sir Laurence was knighted. Lettters written to Leigh by luminaries such as Sir Winston Churchill, Bette Davis, Tennessee Williams, The Queen Mother and a young Judi Dench at the beginning of her own career can be seen alongside love letters written by Leigh to Olivier

Keith Lodwick, Curator, Department of Theatre and Performance, Victoria and Albert Museum, London getting into the frame with one of the stereoscopic images in the slide show room © National Trust / North News Agency

Keith Lodwick, Curator, Department of Theatre and Performance, Victoria and Albert Museum, London getting into the frame with one of the stereoscopic images in the slide show room
© National Trust / North News Agency

As well as the Becoming Scarlett section there are other dresses she wore, annotated scripts and a number of stereoscopic colour photographs which give us a unique glimpse into her world – some are part of a 3D slide show. The exhibition is a thrilling reminder of a wonderful, if complex, actress whose contribution to twentieth century theatre and film remains undimmed.

 

Visit the website for opening days and times. www.nationaltrust.org.uk/treasurershouse or telephone 01904 624247.

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