See our oil paintings on the BBC Follow the Theatre Collection on Facebook

Contact us

University of Bristol Theatre Collection
Cantocks Close
Bristol, UK

Phone: (0117) 3315086

art fund logo art fund logo

Theatre Collection Lilian Baylis

Lilian Baylis Lilian Baylis was lessee and manager of London Old Vic from 1912 until her death in November 1937. During that time she transformed the Royal Victoria Hall into a national institution of artistic importance, by creating permanent Shakespeare, opera and ballet companies.

The Old Vic Archive contains the personal collection of Lilian Baylis including correspondence, autobiographical notes and personal ephemera, which reflect her eccentric personality and deep religious conviction that helped her establish the Old Vic as the foremost theatre in Britain.

Lilian Baylis joined her aunt, Emma Cons, in 1897, to assist with the running of the Royal Victoria Coffee Music Hall which had been established to provide educational and moral entertainment for working class people.

After the death of her aunt, Lilian Baylis established a Shakespeare Company and successfully created an environment which allowed great artists to flourish, despite constant financial limitations, no formal artistic training, and within a male-orientated society. Her achievements were honoured by an Honorary MA from Oxford University in 1924 and an Order of the Companions of Honour in 1929.

Further Reading
Lilian Baylis: A Biography by Elizabeth Schafer
The Old Vic by Cicely Hamilton and Lilian Baylis
Lilian Baylis by Sybil and Russell Thorndike
A Theatre For Everybody by Edward Dent

For further information about the Theatre Collection please tel. 0117 331 5086 (daytime) or email