Vivien Leigh exhibition to open in York

Vivien Leigh, V&A
Portrait of Vivien Leigh by Sasha,1935 ©Victoria and Albert

Iconic Gone with the Wind star’s public and private life is explored with stunning photos and other highlights from the actress’ personal collection.

Vivien Leigh, V&A
Portrait of Vivien Leigh by Sasha,1935 ©Victoria and Albert Museum, London

One of Britain’s most iconic actresses, Vivien Leigh embodied an age as Southern Belle Scarlett O’Hara in Gone With the Wind in 1939.

Now, a new exhibition, Vivien Leigh: Public Faces, Private Lives at the National Trust’s Treasurer’s House in York this autumn, is set to pull back the curtain on her private life – as well as her glamorous public persona – with an amazing array of letters, diaries, photographs, film scripts and costume sketches from her personal collection.

Vivien Leigh and Laurence Oliver
Vivien Leigh and Laurence Oliver in Fire Over England (1936) © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Some of the most remarkable objects from Leigh and her husband Sir Lawrence Olivier’s lives will be on display around the house. Leigh and Olivier fell in love while filming Fire over England (1937). The exhibition looks at their Australian tour together (1948) and their era-defining joint performances in Shakespearean plays at the Stratford Memorial Theatre (1955).

They also adored throwing lavish parties at their home, Notley Abbey. On display will be their home guestbook, which has an impressive list of signatures including Noël Coward, Orson Welles, Terence Rattigan and Katharine Hepburn. Also on display will be private love letters exchanged between the couple along with a selection of photographs showing them at home.

Vivien Leigh, Gone with the Wind
Vivien Leigh on the film set for Lady Hamilton (1941) © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Her role in the classic film Gone with the Wind (1939) is also brought into focus with original photographs of Vivien Leigh in her role as fiery Scarlett O’Hara, taken by Hollywood photographer Laszlo Willinger, and film posters and scrapbooks.

A stunning red Christian Dior gown from Leigh’s costume in Duel of Angels (1958) and the headdress from her role as Titania in A Midsummer Night’s Dream (1937) are just some of the objects from her stage performances that visitors can view.

Vivien Leigh
Vivien Leigh’s scrapbook © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

David Morgan, general manager for Treasurer’s House said: “Treasurer’s was a glittering party house in its heyday and Frank Green welcomed many stars and celebrities here, so we are thrilled to be hosting this exhibition for fans of Vivien Leigh, film, theatre and costume alike. If he were around today, I’m sure Frank would be so pleased that his home was to be the venue for such an exciting exhibition and we are delighted to be working with the V&A in bringing the collection to Yorkshire.”

Vivien Leigh: Public Faces, Private Lives will be on display at Treasurer’s House from 19 September to 20 December before embarking on a national and international tour.

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