Vivien Leigh, the actress perhaps best known for her role as Scarlett O’Hara, left behind a treasure trove of personal effects when she died in 1967, and now London’s Victoria And Albert Museum have announced that they have acquired the archive and will put it on display this fall.
The archive includes her personal diary–which she kept from age 16 to 53–as well as love letters to her husband, actor Laurence Olivier, and photos from throughout her life. There are also her awards and news clippings from her career on both stage and screen.
Of major interest to Leigh’s fans are the letters exchanged between the actress and Olivier; around 40 of them were written while she filmed “Gone With The Wind” in L.A. and he was working on Broadway. Some of the other correspondence included in the archive are from T.S. Eliot, Marilyn Monroe, and Queen Elizabeth. One letter from playwright Tennessee Williams praises her work in “A Streetcar Named Desire”, something that Leigh must have cherished after reportedly “agonizing” over getting her character, the tormented Blanche DuBois, just right.
“It is needless to repeat here my truly huge happiness over the picture and particularly your part in it,” Williams wrote. “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.”
The V&A Museum released a statement about their new acquisition, saying how thrilled they are to be able to share one of the U.K.’s brightest actresses with the public.
“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,” said museum director Martin Roth. “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 life and career, but is also a fascinating insight into the theatrical and social world that surrounded her.”
Images: V&A Museum