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Roy Waters Theatre Collection

The Roy Waters Theatre Collection was bequeathed to  Royal Holloway in 2010, and is now searchable via our online catalogue. The collection includes an impressive array of theatrical ephemera amassed over 40 years by the former teacher and school inspector Roy Waters (1928-2010).


                                                                               (Photograph of Roy Waters, c.1948, from RW/1/7/3)


The material provides a fascinating insight into theatrical entertainment through the interests of a private collector. With a particular emphasis on well known actors, actresses and dramatists, the collection vividly illustrates their careers via autograph letters, programmes, playbills, photographs, news cuttings, prints and artefacts, ranging from the eighteenth to the twenty first century. We also hold Roy Waters’ personal papers, providing insight into the man behind the ephemera. 

The material, eclectic and varied as it is, can be brought together to tell a compelling story about the relationship between the theatre and the society in which it operated. Highlights include letters from Oscar Wilde and Charles Dickens, a Samuel de Wilde painting of Stephen Kemble as Falstaff, and almost four hundred pieces of sheet music, including songs performed by the actress, singer and theatre manager, Madame Vestris. There is also a wealth of material relating specifically to Noel Coward, Henry Irving and Oscar Wilde.

The collection was launched in October 2012 with an exhibition of highlights created to accompany a workshop and drinks reception. This online version is designed to give a glimpse into the sheer variety and depth of the material.

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