Herbert Farjeon Archive

Overview

Herbert Farjeon (1887 – 1945) was influential within the British theatre world from 1910 until his death in 1945. He was a dramatic critic, lyricist, librettist, presenter of revues, playwright, theatre manager, and theatre researcher. Farjeon came from a creative family, his father being the novelist Benjamin Leopold Farjeon, his mother, Margaret Jefferson, the daughter of the American actor, Joseph Jefferson, and his sister was Eleanor Farjeon, well-known for her children's verse and stories.

He was a conscientious objector in the First World War. His first show was a one Act play entitled Friends, performed in the Abbey Theatre Dublin in 1917, and his career continued from there with several of Farjeon’s popular plays being performed on the London stage. He was best known however, for his revues which included, Spread It Abroad, The Two Bouquets, Nine Sharp, Little Revue, Diversion, Light and Shade, many of which were published. He is credited with ‘discovering’ the talent of Joyce Grenfell, and her first stage appearance was in Farjeon’s revue Light and Shade. Other stars that featured in his revues were celebrities such as Cyril Ritchard, Max Adrian, Hermione Baddeley, Betty Ann Davies, Edith Evans, Dorothy Dickson, and Peter Ustinov. In 1938, Farjeon joined the theatre management at the Little Theatre, London, and his revues were performed at that theatre.

Herbert also wrote reviews and articles about the theatre for national newspapers and magazines including the Daily Mirror, Vogue, The Listener, and the Radio Times. He was interested in the history of the theatre, and was involved in promoting the plight of the Theatre Royal, Bristol, during the 1940’s, when it was put up for sale and not assured of being kept as a theatre.

This collection also contains papers belonging to his wife, Joan Thornycroft Farjeon (1888 - 1989)

What the collection holds

The Herbert Farjeon (1887 – 1945) archive reflects the comprehensive and diverse role that he had within the theatre industry.

It contains press cuttings, reviews and articles written by Farjeon, as well as press cuttings, programmes, scripts, prompt books, photographs, correspondence, and books of the revues of Farjeon's own theatre productions. In particular there is a series of photocopied letters between the Farjeon and Joyce Grenfell, giving an insight into her early days in the theatre. The archive also reflects his interest in theatre history with his notes on Elizabethan theatre, Shakespeare and Shakespeare’s plays, as well as correspondence, photographs and articles which give an indication of the role Farjeon played in ensuring the Theatre Royal, Bristol remained open.

The collection is partially catalogued. Where catalogued, arrangement has largely been listed by function. Other accessions as yet uncatalogued remain in the form of the original accessions.

The online catalogue for this collection can be viewed here: 
HF - The Herbert Farjeon Collection

Further information

Related Material in the TC Collections:

Herbert Farjeon portrait HF/P/11
Herbert Farjeon (1887 – 1945) Image credit: University of Bristol Theatre Collection
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