Photograph of John Thaw as Cardinal Wolesley

The actor John Thaw as Cardinal Wolsey in Shakespeare's Henry VIII

The story of the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) can be told in photographs and the Shakespeare Centre Library & Archive holds a massive archive of professional shots of their productions. These include both photographs commissioned by the RSC and also those commissioned by the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust itself. Including just about everyone who been anything in classical theatre these last forty years or so, they relate a great deal not only of the history of individual actors but also of the history of recent set and costume design. Together the photographs, which include the work of Tom Holte, Joe Cocks, Reg Wilson and Malcolm Davies, must represent one of the most important gatherings of theatrical photography and record some iconic productions.

This image, taken by Joe Cocks on behalf of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust in 1983, records the late John Thaw’s performance as Cardinal Wolsey in Shakespeare’s Henry VIII, directed by Howard Davies. The production also featured Richard Griffiths in the title role. The photograph was taken five years after John Thaw had wound up his role as Flying Squad detective Jack Regan in ‘The Sweeney’ and four years before his first appearance as Chief Inspector Morse in ‘The Dead of Jericho’.