Collection of letters from Thomas Dibdin…

Sixteen letters, all dating from 1819, that provide detailed view of the negotations over a very limited time period. The subjects of the letters include: Enquiring as to the terms for renting the theatre, suggesting that his figure of £10,000 per annum to include all the costumes and fixtures and fittings was quite sufficient; asking for a list of the present engagements and expenses; offering a further £3,000 to refurbish the theatre; vouching for the integrity of his backers (‘their sole motive is the placing me unconditionally and without controul as entire Manager & Conductor & principal Partner in the concern’); informing the committee sub rosa that Mr [Abraham] Walker of [Doyley’s Warehouse] the Strand would give security, expecting to take £200 for 200 nights [i.e. £40,000]; suggesting in July that he may be able to make a more advantageous offer; inviting Ward to lunch and dinner and to discuss business with Walker, and the following day putting forward the new proposal: (‘… I agree to pay the Taxes for the whole term in addition to a Rent of £9000 per An: for the first Two years and £10,000 per An: for the Remainder of the Term to be agreed on, which Term (considering the very discouraging and totally reduced state of the Theatre at present and that it will take a very long time to re-establish it) ought to be at the option of the Lessee, for seven, fourteen or twenty one years. …’). Dibdin continues the correspondence on 23 July by questioning why he has received no response to the proposition, and on the 31st putting forward to the committee a further offer of a loan from Walker (also included is Walker’s own proposition, dated 22 July); with two incompletely dated letters of 1919 to R. Peatre complaining that he (Peatre) should not have been given confidential information relating to the offer for the lease. Together with other Dibdin-relating material, including: Three Autograph Letters Signed from the dramatist Cecil Pitt to Winstone (?James Winston) and the Board of Management of the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, (watermarked 1801 and postmarked 1804) concerning his own productions, and particularly Zingara, or the Heroine of China, for which he includes the printed playbill; also three letters of George Dibdin Pitt (1795-1855 – ‘I am the elder brother of Mr Pitt the Painter – and nephew of the Dibdins’), offering his services and those of Miss Pitt-Phillips (‘of the Worthing and Leicester Theatres’) to Elliston and Drury Lane, and elaborating on his theatrical achievements, 1826 and 1830 where dated.

  • TitleCollection of letters from Thomas Dibdin, Cecil Pitt and George Dibdin Pitt, relating to Drury Lane Theatre, 1804, 1819, 1826, and undated.

Catalog Record 

LWL Mss Group 6

Acquired July 2017

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About lewiswalpolelibrary

The Lewis Walpole Library, a department of the Yale University Library since 1980, is an internationally recognized research collection in the field of British eighteenth-century studies. Its unrivalled collection of Walpoliana includes half the traceable volumes from Horace Walpole's famous library at Strawberry Hill and many letters and other manuscripts by him. The Library's book and manuscript collections, numbering over 32,000 volumes, cover all aspects of eighteenth-century British culture. The Library is also home to the largest and finest collection of eighteenth-century British graphic art outside the British Museum; its 35,000 satirical prints, portraits, and topographical views are an incomparable resource for visual material on many facets of English life of the period. Located in Farmington, Connecticut, forty miles north of New Haven and within easy distance of Boston and New York, the Lewis Walpole Library's collections also include drawings, paintings, and furniture, all housed on a 14-acre campus with four historically important structures and extensive grounds. The Library runs an active fellowship program and sponsors conferences, lectures, and exhibitions in cooperation with other Yale libraries and departments.

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