Acquisitions Museums United Kingdom

Vivien Leigh’s archive bought by the V&A

Star of Gone with the Wind also celebrated in small Devon museum

Photograph of Vivien Leigh by Angus McBean

The Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A), London, has bought Vivien Leigh’s personal archive from the grandchildren of the star of screen and stage. Besides thousands of letters, including professional correspondence with the playwright Tennessee Williams and notes to and from her second husband, the actor Laurence Olivier, the archive contains photographs, including albums of stills from the film Gone with the Wind. There are also diaries, visitor books, and Leigh’s annotated film and theatre scripts.

As well as digitising the items, the V&A plans to show selected items from the collection in its Theatre and Performance Galleries from this autumn.

A spokeswoman for the museum declined to disclose the cost of the purchase, which has been made with V&A funds via the fine art agent Robert Holden.

Meanwhile, the Topsham Museum, Devon, is also celebrating Leigh’s life and career in an exhibition marking the centenary of her birth in 1913 (until 31 October). Her first husband grew up in the small fishing port in the south west of England. The local connection resulted in a remarkable gift to the museum, which was founded by his sister.

Leigh’s daughter gave the museum many items, including the silk nightdress her mother wore in her Oscar-winning role of Scarlett O’Hara in Gone with the Wind along with a memo from the film producer, David O. Selznick, giving the wardrobe department permission to let Leigh keep the costume.

A album of press cuttings about Vivien Leigh's role of Scarlet O'Hara in Gone with the Wind, 1940
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