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Tales from the Reading Room

Just a few stories of the success of our collections

It’s always a huge pleasure to hear about the variety of different ways in which visitors make use of our Reading Rooms for research, creative inspiration and much more. It’s not always possible for us to hear about or see the end results of their projects, but here are a few stories from people who were able to get back in touch.

Estella, Chuck, and Mavis

Last week we welcomed Estella and Chuck, originally from Connecticut and now living in Wisconsin, and their friend Mavis. Estella and Chuck did a camping tour of Europe in the summer of 1964. They saw Olivier in Othello at Chichester, and, buzzing from the experience and keen to get to Stratford for the start of the Wars of the Roses cycle, drove through the night to get to Stratford on August 6th. Whilst in the queue for tickets, they got talking to Mavis, an actress and drama teacher who was there with two teacher friends. A chance meeting and a mutual interest in theatre have led to a friendship spanning the last half a century. Last weekend they held a special reunion party with a “Golden anniversary” theme. They visited the Reading Room to get photocopies of programmes and production photos to create a display for the event. We also gave them free access to the 1964 exhibition in the Treasures Room to end their visit on high note.  

Mavis later wrote to us and said: “Thank you so much for your kind email. Chuck, Estella and I were so impressed by your kind services. We mounted the photos etc onto gold paper and they looked most impressive. Our guests really appreciated them.”

Estelle, Chuck and Mavis- reading room

Bill Cooper

Bill Cooper came in recently to donate a copy of his book, telling the history of the NFU Mutual; a small local company that has now become one of the leading insurance companies in the UK. A Century of service: the story of the NFU Mutual is full of colourful pictures of staff and archive items and is now issued to every new starter at the company. Having used our collections in his research, Bill kindly gave us a copy of the book so that it might be made available in the Reading Room.

Jane Nead

Jane Nead visited us back in May to undertake research for her final year project of a City and Guilds qualification in jewellery design. Using early theatre ephemera and texts, RSC photos and costume bibles, as well as visiting Catherine Simpson to see some original costumes, she took inspiration from our Collections for her design.  She also visited the Assay Office at the Goldsmith’s Company to try out touchstones and touchstone needles. The finished piece aims to incorporate both visual design elements from our items and aspects of the play and the character of Touchstone. She very kindly came into the Reading Room to show us her work.  

Jane Nead jewellery- reading room