‘I was born in one of the most romantic places in the world – Darjeeling’, wrote Vivien, (Hugo Vickers, Vivien Leigh
, London, 1988, p. 4). Her father Ernest Hartley had set off in 1905 to India, where he settled as a junior exchange broker in the firm of Pigott, Chapman & Co. and there met his wife, Gertrude Yackjee who was born in Darjeeling. Despite preliminary reservations about their liaison, they soon became a popular couple in the best circles of European society in Calclutta. (Vickers, op. cit
., p. 9). For all its romance, India left little mark on Vivien herself, but as Hugo Vickers says: ‘there was an imperious, commanding side to her nature which often came to those brought up in a household of Indian servants. She heard her mother giving commands that she expected to be obeyed.’ (ibid
., p. 12). She was taken back to England at the age of six in 1920 and joined the Convent of the Sacred Heart at Roehampton, where Mrs Hartley visited her as often as possible before returning to India. Though she longed to rejoin her parents, Vivien did not return to India until 1964.
Vivien adored her parents and their life in India, and wrote often to them from school. In the autumn of 1925, she requested "lots of photos of your house and yourself and Dad..." (quoted in Dent, Vivien Leigh: A Bouquet (1969), p.44), some of which may have ended up in these albums.