The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.0784 Thursday, 5 April 2001
From: Andrew W. White <
Date: Wednesday, 4 Apr 2001 23:23:45 -0400
Subject: Gielgud Auction - Motley Designs?
In today's (Wednesday's) New York Times, Mel Gussow has an article
describing the auction of many of John Gielgud's personal effects.
Aside from wishing I were there, I am hoping someone can find out what
has happened to a number of designs by the design team Motley, that were
a part of Gielgud's private collection.
Motley, in case there are some on this list who don't know, is the
collective name for three women (Margaret and Sophie Harris, and
Elizabeth Montgomery) who were Gielgud's design team during much of his
early career as a director. Their collaborations included the "Hamlet
of the Century" in 1934, _Richard of Bordeaux_, as well as a famous
season of classical repertory at the Queen's Theater, 1937-1938.
When Motley's shop was bombed during WW-II, only one costume piece
survived -- Gielgud's costume for _Bordeaux_, which I think is still on
display at the Theater Museum in London. Most of what remains of
Motley's designs are now housed at the University of Illinois at
Urbana-Champaign, and I had the pleasure of using them for research
several years ago -- and later in London had the far greater pleasure of
visiting with Margaret Harris, the surviving Motley. A number of key
designs -- in particular for Gielgud's characters -- are not a part of
the Motley Collection, and I presume Gielgud himself had kept a number
Any information on whether any Motley designs were auctioned, and
(auctioned or not) whether there is any possibility of their being
donated to the Theater Museum, the Mander & Mitchenson Collection (where
a lot of earlier Gielgud memorabilia are kept), or the University of
Illinois would be greatly appreciated. My study of the Queen's Season
in particular would be greatly enhanced by the chance to view Motley's
work for Gielgud, however much of it remained in his hands.
Thanks in advance for any word,
Andy White (MA, Theatre History, U of I, and currently:)
University of Maryland, College Park
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