Digital début

Charles Incledon – pictured here in a dramatic pose. Image property of Westminster City Archives.

Charles Incledon – pictured here in a dramatic pose – complains in one letter that he receives a “damned deal of applause but little money”. Image property of Westminster City Archives.

Letters from Broadley’s Annals of the Haymarket are now published online for the first time.

Back in February we wrote about a project to transcribe a remarkable collection of letters at the Archives Centre. These letters belong to A M Broadley’s Annals of the Haymarket: a series of four enormous scrapbooks, each filled with fascinating insights into over 200 years of theatre history.

The first phase of the project has now been completed, many months ahead of schedule, and our first instalment of the letters is already available online.

Take a look at the letters, and you will discover a world of high drama and low jibes, wheeling and dealing, and all with a good helping of prima donna scenes! It’s also fascinating to see how small the theatre world really was, and how the lives of the stars of the stage were so intertwined.

Giulia Grisi was one of the premier opera stars of her day. Image property of Westminster City Archives.

Giulia Grisi was one of the premier opera stars of her day. One of her letters features in the Annals of the Haymarket. Image property of Westminster City Archives.

The letters are written by big names in theatre – celebrity A-listers of their day – but understanding that the names aren’t so familiar to readers today, we’ve accompanied each letter with a biographical note.

Research into the letters has revealed some compelling stories. We find Nancy Storace writing to a fellow actor, shortly after being most publicly abandoned by her long-term lover: a desertion that broke her heart and possibly led to her untimely death. Another letter discusses relief efforts to support those affected by the collapse of the roof at the Royal Brunswick Theatre on 28 February 1828. The disaster killed thirteen people and severely wounded over twenty others.

We’re now working hard to bring the rest of the volumes in the Broadley series into the online domain. We hope this first foray into the history of the Haymarket whets your appetite for more letters and stories to come!

Two views of the old and new Haymarket Theatre, before and after 1821. Image property of Westminster City Archives.

Two views of the old and new Haymarket Theatre, before and after 1821. Image property of Westminster City Archives.

[Judith]

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One response to “Digital début

  1. Pingback: A volunteer blogs | Books & the City

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