Lot 24
  • 24

Vivien Leigh

2,000 - 3,000 GBP
15,000 GBP
bidding is closed


  • Vivien Leigh
  • Appointment diary
  • paper
Smythson appointment book, with each day dated in autograph and with entries for most days in pencil and blue ink, 10 January 1937 - 25 November 1939, detailing social engagements, rehearsals and professional appointments (including for Hamlet in Elsinore, and screen tests and filming for Gone with the Wind), travel plans and holidays, personal appointments, occasional news events (including the Coronation and the declaration of World War II), numerous references to Laurence Olivier, other actors, friends, and family, WITH OCCASIONAL OBSERVATIONS OF A PERSONAL NATURE , blank leaves at end with addresses and rough notes, 4to (214 x 175mm.), blue "featherweight" paper, dark navy flexible morocco covers, gilt edges, marbled endpapers, some light soiling to covers, very occasional light soiling to pages

Catalogue Note


The final years of the 1930s were to be crucial years for Vivien, both as an actress and in her personal life. Having begun her affair with Larry the previous year, in the first months of 1937 they tried to live apart as much as possible, Vivien with Leigh and Larry with Jill and his new-born son Tarquin. However, their resolution was not long lasting, and soon Vivien was making regular visits to watch Larry perform as Hamlet: "She went to see at least half the performances, just so that she could be near Larry during a time when she was supposed to be staying away from him" (Kenneth Tynan, quoted in Vickers, op.cit., p.87). Many such trips are recorded in this diary.

Thenceforth, Vivien's diary notes numerous engagements with Larry and his wife Jill throughout the spring of 1937, as well as rehearsals (for Because We Must and Bats in the Belfry), filming for 21 Days, and the premiere of Fire Over England on 24 February. On 29 May 1937, Vivien departed with Larry, Jill and the Old Vic company for Denmark. 

By the time Vivien returned from Elsinore, it seems her mind was made up. On 10 June, her notes for the day evocatively read "Told Leigh". On 16 June, in an increasingly frantic hand, she records "Left with Larry". Her marriage to Leigh was over, but not without distress on her part. That day and several following are struck through and scribbled over, almost as if she wished to erase them from the record. 

This diary also provides a fascinating record of Vivien's casting as Scarlett in Gone with the Wind. On 27 November, Vivien sailed to New York where she docked on 1 December, and then immediately flew on to see Olivier (beneath the details of her journey she has written "LARRY"). It was during this trip that Myron Selznick presented her to his brother David, and on the 22 December, her diary records "Scarlett Test [...] Test til late". By 22 January 1939 ("Started 'Gone with the Wind'"), she had secured the role she had desired for so long. 

The subsequent weeks record time spent in the studio, punctuated by calls from Larry. Occasionally, Vivien includes personal notes on her mood ("Very unhappy [...] Drove on to Headland at sunset - happy again" on 22 February) alongside her social engagements.