Scope and Contents
The Edward Knoblock collection comprises 45 folders of correspondence received by Knoblock between the years 1904 and 1936, relating to theater in Great Britain during the early 20th century. Correspondence relates to British theater in the early 20th century.
Most of Knoblock's correspondents in this collection are well-known literary figures of the day, or prominent managers and producers from the world of the theatre. Some of these are: Sir Arthur Wing Pinero (1855-1934), the English dramatist and actor; J.B. Priestley (1894- ), the Yorkshire born novelist, essayist, playwright and critic; all the members of the literary Sitwell family, especially, Edith (1887-1964), Osbert (1892-1969), and Sacheverell (1897- ); Sir Hugh Walpole (1884-1941) the New Zealand born novelist and son of the bishop of Edinburgh; Sir Charles Wyndham (1863-1913), the English actor and stage manager; David Belasco (1854-1931), the San Francisco born New York stage manager and producer; Arnold Bennett (1867-1931), the famous English novelist and dramatist of the 'Five Towns' region; Noel Coward (1899- ), the playwright, actor, and composer; English actors, Sir John Gielgud, born in 1904, and Sir Charles Hawtrey (1858-1923); statesman, and first Labour Prime Minister, Ramsey MacDonald (1866-1937); novelist, journalist, and critic, Compton MacKenzie (1883- ); and, Cyril Maude (1863-1951), the English actor, co-manager of the Haymarket theatre in London (1896-1905) and manager and builder of the Playhouse until 1915.
Owing to the volume of correspondence from him contained in the collection, Sir William Nicholson (1872-1949) deserves a special mention. Nicholson was principally a portrait painter, although he also devoted time to painting figure subjects, still life and open-air studies. He was also a wood engraver and designed posters along with his brother-in-law James Pryde under the name of the Beggarshot Brothers. A series of woodcuts were published including, The Square Book of Animals (1896), and An Almanac of Twelve Sports (1898), this latter being produced in collaboration with Rudyard Kipling. Most of Nicholson's letters to Knoblock are accompanied by small illustrations of some kind, and the collection concludes with ten miscellaneous sketches by this artist.
Edward Knoblock (1874-1945) was born in New York City and educated at Harvard, but spent most of his professional life living and working in Great Britain. Playwright, scenarist and novelist, Knoblock was in constant touch with many of the leading literary and artistic figures of his generation, as the ensuing collection will show. As well as working independently, Knoblock often collaborated with others. The plays, Milestones (1912), and, London Life (1924) were produced with the assistance of Arnold Bennett. Similarly, The Good Companions, originally published in 1929 by J.B. Priestley, was dramatised jointly by Knoblock and the author in 1931. Plays written by Knoblock alone include, The Faun (1911), Kismet (1911), My Lady's Dress (1914), Marie-Odile (1915), and Tiger-Tiger (1918). Among the novels written by Edward Knoblock are, The Ant Heap (1929), The Man With Two Mirrors(1931), The Love Lady (1933), and Inexperience (1941). Some of these works are referred to throughout the collection, notably by Dame Edith Sitwell and David Belasco.