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Brandon Thomas-Leverson ArchiveMS.2014.012
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Acquisition Information
  • Separated materials
  • Preferred Citation
  • Biographical / Historical
  • Scope and Contents
  • Arrangement
  • Conditions Governing Access
  • Conditions Governing Use

  • Language of Material: English
    Contributing Institution: William Andrews Clark Memorial Library
    Title: Brandon Thomas-Leverson Archive
    Identifier/Call Number: MS.2014.012
    Physical Description: 8 boxes
    Date (inclusive): 1850-1983
    Language of Material: English
    Physical Description: 6.3 linear ft, 8 boxes
    Abstract: The Brandon Thomas-Leverson Archive is a collection of scrapbooks, photographs, letters, and journals pertaining to the Brandon-Leverson household that was largely compiled by Silvia Brandon Thomas, the daughter of actor and playwright Brandon Thomas. The materials in this collection capture intimate moments within the Brandon-Leverson's family life as well as the family's associations with other fin de siècle artists and writers such as Henry Irving, Oscar Wilde, and W.S. Penley.
    Physical Location: William Andrews Clark Memorial Library

    Acquisition Information

    Purchased from daiad fine books in 2014.

    Separated materials

    Printed copies of Brandon Thomas' farce Charley's Aunt were removed from the archive and are catalogued separately. Please consult the Clark Library's holdings on the UCLA online library catalog for more information about how to access these items.
    The copies of Charley's Aunt that were originally part of the archive include editions that had been translated into Czech and Italian. The collection also came with a 1st edition copy of Where's Charley?.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], Brandon Thomas-Leverson Archive, MS.2014.012, William Andrews Clark Memorial Library, University of California, Los Angeles.

    Biographical / Historical

    Brandon Thomas (1848-1914) was a playwright, songwriter, and performer whose farce Charley's Aunt helped him achieve international renown. Born on December 24, 1848 as the first child of Walter Thomas and Hannah Thomas (née Morris), Brandon experienced a childhood of inconsistent financial resources and inconsistent schooling. His father, while a skilled bootmaker, was prone to making rash business endeavors that often left the family financially struggling. By the age of 12, Brandon was removed from school entirely to work as an apprentice at the Liverpool dockyards to provide for his family. His mother ran a small lodging business out of the family's home, with one of the tenants being than unknown stage performer Henry Irving. Irving's relationship with the Thomas family would profoundly inspired Brandon to pursue a similar path.
    While working clerical jobs for the next decade of his life, Thomas continued to develop his skills as a performer and writer. He caught the attention of William Grimston and Madge Kendal (together known as "the Kendals"), and was recruited into their company at the Court Theatre in 1879. Thomas went on to tour with Kendal Company in America, receiving popular acclaim for his performance in and writing of the burlesque play "A Pantomime Rehearsal". His magnum opus Charley's Aunt made its premier at the Theater Royal at Bury St. Edmunds in February, 1892. The first run of the play featured popular London comedian W.S. Penley in the role of "Charley's Aunt", becoming an instant hit that met a run of 1,469 performances over the course of 3 years.
    Thomas' marriage to Marguerite Leverson was initially met with great disapproval from Marguerite's father James Leverson, but the two eventually married on December 22, 1888. In time, the couple would have four children: Amy Marguerite (born 1890), Jimmy (James) Grant (1894), Jevan Roderick (1898), and Silvia Blanche (1905). Tragically, Jimmy died from injuries sustained as a lieutenant in the early months of WWI. Both Amy and Jevan continued to be actively involved in the family's performing business, and while Silvia was a dancer, actress, and a theatrical manager for an earlier part of her life, she later went on to pursue a career as a journalist at the BBC.

    Scope and Contents

    This collection features an assortment of handwritten correspondence, photographs, journals, and scrapbooks detailing the public and private happenings of the Thomas-Leverson family, dating mostly between the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Much of the written narrative regarding the family's history was produced by the youngest daughter, Silvia Brandon Thomas. The collection contains numerous autograph letters, a great bulk of which are addressed either to Brandon Thomas or to his daughter Amy from senders of eminent background within the late 19th century London performing scene such as Cyril Maude, Seymour Hicks, and Henry Irving.
    Photographs comprise the majority of the visual materials within this collection, and as such, the archive offers a view into the types of photographic production and processing methods employed in the mid-19th to mid-20th centuries.


    This collection has been divided into three series:
    1. Family Narratives and Recordkeeping 2. Letters and Correspondence 3. Photographs and Other Visual Materials

    Conditions Governing Access

    This collection is open for research.

    Conditions Governing Use

    Copyright has not been assigned to the William Andrews Clark Memorial Library, UCLA. All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Librarian. Permission for publication is given on behalf of the William Andrews Clark Memorial Library as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained.

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    Thomas, Brandon, 1848-1914
    Brandon-Thomas, Silvia
    Brandon-Thomas, Jevan, 1898-1977
    Thomas, Amy Brandon, 1890-1974
    Leverson, Marguerite, 1865-1930