menu icon mobile devices search icon mobile devicesSearch the site

Robert Donat Archive

Date range: c.1920–58.

Robert Donat (1905–58), actor and film star, was born at Withington, Manchester, on 18 March 1905.

In 1924 he joined Sir Frank Benson’s repertory company. His success in provincial theatre and later in the West End brought him important film work, especially with Sir Alexander Korda.

His best known film role was as the eponymous schoolmaster in Goodbye, Mr Chips, for which he was awarded an Oscar for best actor in 1940. During the 1930s and ’40s Donat continued to combine film and theatre work, but ill-health curtailed his career and brought his premature death on 9 June 1958.

The archive comprises:

  • meticulously indexed correspondence, both personal and professional, including correspondence with Sir Bronson Albery, William Armstrong, Anthony Asquith, Enid Bagnold, Sir Michael Balcon, Sir Frank Benson, John Boulting, James Bridie (Osborne Henry Mavor), Noël Coward, Eleanor Farjeon, Walter Greenwood, Tyrone Guthrie, Alfred Hitchcock, Danny Kaye, Sir Alexander Korda, Vivien Leigh, Walter MacQueen-Pope, Sir Laurence Olivier, David Ormsby-Gore, Eden Phillpotts, J. Arthur Rank, Flora Robson, Margaret Rutherford, George Bernard Shaw, Peter Ustinov, Irene Vanbrugh, Rex Whistler and Harcourt Williams (some in photocopy form)
  • boxes of press cuttings, scripts and theatre programmes
  • film and radio scripts, posters, and costume and set designs
  • photographs of Donat from childhood and throughout his career, both personal and professional, including press photographs, theatre stills and studio stills (some being copies)
  • reel-to-reel tapes of radio performances, interviews and poetry readings
  • an ‘emotion chart’ on which Donat mapped the development of his character in the film The Citadel
  • commercial records and tapes

There is also a small amount of material relating to the executorship of Robert Donat’s estate.

Finding aids

Catalogue available online via ELGAR.

Location

The John Rylands Library

Using the reading rooms in the John Rylands Library

Can we help?