David Walker Archive


David Walker (1934 - 2008) was a prolific British designer whose work encompassed film, theatre, ballet and opera.

Walker was born in Kolkata, India to British parents and grew up in London. He studied at the Central School of Arts and Crafts under Jeanetta Cochrane. He first worked as a cutter for Glyndebourne before beginning his design career with Joan Littlewood at the Liverpool Theatre Workshop and the Theatre Royal. After his Royal Court debut in 1961 on The Changeling (Directed by Tony Richardson), he went on to work for many of the world’s major theatre, dance and opera companies. He created set and costumes for major works including, in ballet, Frederick Ashton’s The Dream (1964), Giselle (1971) and La Sylphide (1979) for London Festival Ballet and Cinderella (1996) for English National Ballet; in opera, Der Rosenkavalier (1975) for English National Opera and Carmen (1972) for the Metropolitan Opera, New York; and in theatre London Assurance (1971) for the Royal Shakespeare Company and Undiscovered Country (1979) for the National Theatre.

Walker also worked in film and television, where his credits included The Corn is Green (1979) and Hamlet (Directed by Peter Wood, 1971), for which Walker was awarded an Emmy for Outstanding Achievement in Costume Design.

What the collection holds

The David Walker Archive includes extensive original set and costume designs. The collection also contains original notes and artwork for his “Nutcracker” book and items of featured publications.

  • Material swatches from costume design work with English National Ballet
  • Costume design for Oberon, (The Dream, 1964) first idea for head, pen & ink with water colour wash
  • Set model (She Stoops to Conquer, Chichester Festival, 1993) piece of an Inn, with design of potting shed on reverse, painted mixed media
  • Observer Magazine (No. 530, October 9th 1977) featuring an article about David Walker’s costume designs for Sleeping Beauty.

 David Walker’s archive includes ephemera and designs from renowned designers Henry Bardon, Lila De Nobili, and Colin MacFarlane. Including:

  • Lila De Nobili, original artwork, design for the film Charge of the Light Brigade, 1968
  • Henry Bardon, preliminary sketch for set design, Cosi fan Tutti, Royal Opera House, 1968
  • Colin MacFarlane, original costume for L’Enfant et les Sortilage, 1984

The online catalogue for this collection can be viewed here: 
DW - David Walker Archive

It is currently only partially catalogued so please contact us for further information regarding its contents and access.

Further information

David Walker Design - The Dream, Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, 1964.  Costume design for Oberon, first idea
David Walker Design - The Dream, Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, 1964. Costume design for Oberon, first idea Image credit: University of Bristol Theatre Collection
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