Over 7,000 of screen icon Vivien Leigh's personal love letters and diary extracts are coming to the V&A Museum... take note
The V&A Museum has just acquired an exciting new haul of screen icon Vivien Leigh’s personal letters and diary extracts. The documents will feature in a new exhibition based around her life and her famous relationship with husband, Laurence Olivier.
In an age when were surrounded by texts, tweets, WhatsApps and emails, we’re falling in love with putting pen to paper all over again as we read some of the star’s early extracts.
She was the double Oscar-winning actress who captivated audiences with her roles in Gone With the Wind and A Streetcar Named Desire, but thanks to her tumultuous marriage to actor Laurence Olivier, Vivein is often remembered for their relationship, more than she is her own work. The V&A hopes this retrospective will go some way to shedding light on the actress, bringing her out from Laurence’s shadow.
Being held a century on from her birth, the exhibit boasts 7,500 personal letters that have been acquired from the actress’ grandchildren. The archive also includes photographs, annotated theatre scripts and numerous awards she collected over the years. The collection contains incredible correspondence with a long list of famous contemporaries from TS Eliot, to Marilyn Monroe, Winston Churchill and even the Queen Mother.
Over 200 letters exchanged between Vivien and Laurence are included, spanning the couple’s mariage between 1940 and 1960. Around 40 of the letters displayed were sent while the actor was on Broadway and Vivien was shooting Gone With The Wind in Los Angeles, between April and June 1939.
Professional correspondence includes one from 1950 about Vivien’s role as Blanche in A Streetcar Name Desire, in which Tennessee Williams writes: ‘It is the Blanche I had always dreamed of and I am grateful to you for bringing it so beautifully to life on the screen.’
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Vivien’s diary, which she kept meticulously from the age of 16 in 1929, until she died in 1967 aged 53 from tuberculosis, is at the heart of the exhibit. It promises a true insight into the life and loves of the legendary star. We’ll see you there.