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Details & Cataloguing

Vivien: The Vivien Leigh Collection

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London

Sir Winston Churchill
TYPED LETTER SIGNED ("WINSTON S CHURCHILL"), TO VIVIEN LEIGH, 
addressed in his hand to "My dear Vivien" and supporting her campaign to prevent the closure of St. James's theatre, "though as a parliamentarian I cannot approve of your "disorderly" method", offering £500 in funds, and also congratulating her on her performance in Titus Andronicus, though "I was too far away to hear", one page, headed stationery, 28 Hyde Park Gate, London, 18 July 1957, framed and glazed, some light spotting

[with]: Leslie Gilbert Illingworth. "Big Business as Usual", printed cartoon showing the St. James's Theatre boarded up (500 x 400mm.), framed and glazed


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Catalogue Note

It appears that it was Vivien who approached Churchill about her campaign to halt the proposed demolition of the St. James's Theatre. On 14 July, following her infamous protest in the House of Lords, she wrote to him appealing for his support: "I love [St James's] for many reasons one of the chiefest being that you were gracious and kind enough to come and see us in it. I have never forgotten that wonderful evening and so I am writing to ask you if you can do anything to help to preserve it [...] just a word from you I feel sure would ensure its life."

A few days later, she received her reply. On 20 July, Vivien read the letter to a mass meeting arranged by the British Actors' Equity in St-Martins-in-the-Fields courtyard. Earlier the same day, she called Churchill's office to ask his permission to do so; at the foot of the memo relaying this request to Churchill, he responded "Yes".

She wrote at length to express her gratitude: "I was most sincerely touched by your kindness in writing and also of course by your wonderfully generous offer of £500... this will surely be the theatre's most proud donation" (22 July 1957). 

Throughout her public campaign to save the theatre, photographs of Vivien holding a copy of this cartoon appeared in the press, including in the Daily Sketch and the Daily Mirror on 12 July 1957. 

Vivien: The Vivien Leigh Collection

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London