London’s V&A Museum acquires archive of actress Vivien Leigh

British actress Vivien Leigh is best known for her Oscar-winning roles as the headstrong Scarlett O’Hara in the 1939 epic “Gone With the Wind” and as Tennessee Williams’ frail, emotionally troubled Blanche DuBois in 1951’s “A Streetcar Named Desire.”

London’s Victoria and Albert Museum announced Wednesday it has acquired Leigh’s archive in the centenary of her birth.

The V&A is home to the United Kingdom’s national collection of theater and performing arts and has recently been acquiring costumes designed for film.

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Leigh’s archive features never-before-seen records including her personal diary, which she wrote in from the age of 16 until her death at 53 in 1967; love letters between her and Laurence Olivier, to whom she was married from 1940-61; correspondence from the likes of Winston Churchill, Graham Greene and Noel Coward; photographs; visitor books; her annotated film and theater scripts; press clippings; and her awards.


The archive was acquired through Robert Holden Ltd. from her grandchildren and covers all aspects of her personal and professional life.

“Vivien Leigh is undoubtedly one of the UK’s greatest luminaries of stage and screen and along with Laurence Olivier, remains a true star of her time,” Martin Roth, director of the V&A, said in a statement Wednesday.

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“We are thrilled to acquire her archive intact in this centenary year of her birth and to be able to make it available to the public for the first time. It not only represents Vivien Leigh’s career, but is also a fascinating insight into the theater and social world that surrounded her.”

A revolving selection of material from the archive will be on display in the V&A’s Theatre and Performance Galleries beginning this fall.


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