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Floy Angel Nan Symon (1896-1976)
Papers 1896-1976

MSS 0038

Biographical Note

Angel Symon, one of five daughters, each independent and capable in her own right, was born in Adelaide in 1896. She was educated privately at Miss Schroeder's School at Mt Lofty and Miss Cussen's School at North Adelaide and later in England, at the Manor House at Brondesbury. On her return to Australia, she took a position with Allan Wilkie's company as secretary and publicity officer. She also enjoyed some walk-on roles in his productions from 1920 to 1923 and again in 1925 and 1926.

Angel developed strong connections with the English theatre world and travelled throughout Europe, visiting theatres, operas and concerts and attending lectures on costume design. She collected programs, books and ephemera and built up a substantial personal library. When she died in 1976, her theatre collection was bequeathed to the Barr Smith Library and named, at Angel's request, the Allan Wilkie - Frediswyde Hunter-Watts collection. A portion of the collection was retained by her sister, Mary Clarke, who continued to add to it, especially in the area of ballet. Upon Mary's death in 1988, the remaining collection including books, programmes, souvenirs, posters, postcards, newspaper cuttings and Angel's personal correspondence, was transferred to the Barr Smith Library.

Contents Listing

    1. Correspondence. 1932-75. 10 cm.
      Re Inn Nursery School, 1932-38 and undated.
      (includes draft letter by Symon to the editor of the Advertiser on the aims and origins of the Nursery School.)
      Re preservation of the Theatre Royal, Hobart, 1949-56.
      Re preservation of the Theatre Royal, Adelaide, 1955-62.
      Re proposed demolition of the Elder Conservatorium, 1974.
      Re Adelaide Festival Centre (Trust), 1973-75 and undated.
      Miscellaneous letters and postcards received (including some personal letters, among them letters of sympathy on the death of her sister Kilmeny Symon, but principally from theatre organisations, art galleries and libraries acknowledging gifts and donations), 1937-86.
      [some of the later letters and cards are to/from Mary Clarke]
      Letters (mainly drafts) sent by Miss Symon, 1926 and 1958-77.

    2. Appointment diaries and address books, 1954-55 and undated. 3v.

    3. Papers relating to Brondesbury School. 1912-58. 3 cm.
      School publications and extracts from them, Rules, exam papers, essays by Symon as a student.

    4. Notes and articles by Symon, principally on theatre. undated. 15 cm.
      Notes on Australian theatre, theatre generally, theatres, Shakespeare and on individual performances/performers, including extensive transcripts from contemporary newspapers and secondary sources on the history of theatre in Australia.
      Notes and extracts compiled for Theatre Training Centre voice studies and exercises.
      Typescript articles (by Symon?) on language, literature and personal reflections.
      Notes on 'Sects and Denominations of the Christian World'.
      Some notes on the views set forth in An introduction to five radio plays [Mary Clarke]
      see also Series 9, 12, 13.

    5. ABC Guest of Honour transcripts. 1960-74. 3 cm.
      Sir Donald Wolfit March 1960.
      Norman Marshall April 1962.
      Michael Cardew December 1968.
      Sir Tyrone Guthrie August 1970.
      Clive Barnes August 1974.

    6. Prospectuses, programs, advertisements for various drama, theatre and dance schools, workshops and conferences, with some related correspondence. 1936-61 and undated. 15 cm.
      Including papers from East-West Music Encounter Conference (undated) and International Conference on Theatre History 1955.

    7. Reports, circulars, programs, etc. of various drama, theatre and music organisations, with some related correspondence {see also 'Miscellaneous letters received' in Series 1 above}. c1954-74. 15 cm.
      Including Adelaide University Theatre Guild, Australian Elizabethan Theatre Trust, British Drama League, British Theatre Museum, International Federation for Theatre Research, League of Audiences, National Music Camp Association and Society for Theatre Research.

    8. Booksellers catalogues, with related correspondence and accounts.c1939-83. Ms lists of items and book catalogues in cases. 40 cm.
      [some of the later correspondence is with Mary Clarke]

    9. Collection of autograph letters. and other theatre memorabilia 1756-1961 .

      9.1. Letters as listed below: addressed to Miss Symon unless otherwise noted.
      Ada Crossley [to Lady Symon], 2 November 1903
      Stewart D. [Hallam?], 14 April 1922
      Vivien Leigh, 4 April 1948
      Eileen Beldon, 5 April 1948
      [Mercia?] Swinburne, 6 April 1948
      Laurence Olivier, 14 April 1948
      Cicely Courtneidge, 29 May 1948
      George W. [Bishop?], 22 November 1955
      H. Hazell, 25 November 1961
      Elaine Montgomerie, undated.

      9.2. Memorabilia includes:
      F.C. [Barnard?] to Boucicault, 15 February 1910
      [V. Setfarisson?] to Mrs Boucicault, 15 August 1924
      Wm. Creswick to E.R. Lownde, 15 February 1877, mounted on card with an illustration of Creswick as Hotspur (in King Henry IV), to George Loveday, 22 November (no year) and to J.L. Toole, 15 November 1880
      Autograph letter of R.W. Elliston to Robertson Esq., 19 April 1827
      D. Garrick to "Dear Sir",18 October 1756
      Note to Henry Irving from Lady Alice Rothschild, asking for a loan of £100, undated
      Note by/on behalf of Edmund Kean to coal merchant Marchant, (1815)
      Wybert Reeve to Mr Sowden (editor Adelaide Register), 5 December 1900, together with cutting of article by Reeve published in the Critic 16 September 1899
      Geo Rignold to "Dear Doctor", 3 January 1905
      Manuscript of lines of Mistress Page (from Merry Wives of Windsor), in the hand of Ellen Terry, undated
      Jerome to Terry, 11 June 1895
      Telegram from Dion Boucicault to Miss Vanbrugh, 29 December 1890
      Memorandum of Agreement between J.L. Toole and Miss Irene Vanbrugh, 1890 (unsigned copy)
      A. Maude Royden to Miss Vanbrugh, 5 July 192[5?]
      Lewis Waller to Frederick Fenn, 20 May 1907 (on Lyric Theatre letterhead)
      Oscar Wilde to "My dear old friend", undated

      9.3. Postcards, tickets etc. principally relating to theatres and stage design.
      see also Series 12

    10. Miscellanea.
      10.1. Copy of contract for lease of the Theatre Royal, Valetta (Malta), with regulations. (1927) unsigned copy.
      10. 2. Journal of Mrs C.M. Petrie, Federal Department of Agricultural Research, Moor Plantatation, Ibadan, Nigeria (re life on the plantation). undated. 33 p. typescript.
      10. 3. Library notice, ms program of an 'Entertainment' on S.S. Ballarat 31 May 1885 and annotated Senate paper of J.H. [Sir Josiah] Symon. 'Manoah Company' program for entertainment 26/2 1896 at Manoah, Upper Sturt. Typescript. 4 items.

    11. Notes and illustrations (postcards) of places visited on a tour of France and England, 1920-21. 1 v. (folio)

    12. Collection of Shakespeare memorabilia, including items relating to Shakespeare festivals and the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre at Stratford-on-Avon.
      Programs of events, lectures and exhibitions, pamphlets and cuttings from publications on Shakespeare and Shakespearean drama, performers (incl. Henry Irving), copies of lectures, etc. 15 cm.

    13. Newspaper and magazine cuttings of articles relating to the Theatre.

      13 1. Guardbook of cuttings re the Melbourne theatre and music performances, 1856-67 (most undated). 1 v.
      13. 2. Cuttings on the Adelaide theatre.
      13. 3. Cuttings on theatre in Australia generally.
      13. 4. Miscellaneous extracts on theatre, dance, performers and dramatists.

    14. Photographs.
      Symon family, Allan Wilkie and miscellaneous.
      Postcards and letter cards, c. 1904-77 (most undated).

    15. Card indexes.
      Indexes compiled by Angel Symon to books (title and subject), plays (title), theatre programmes (place, actor, author) and periodicals (title)

    16. Realia

      16. 1. Inkwell. Tortoiseshell and metal. Formerly owned by pantomime comedian and theatrical producer, Joseph Thomas Holt, commonly known as Bland Holt.
      16. 2. Ballet Shoes (Owned and signed by Anne Heaton, a prominent ballet dancer in England in the mid 1900s who worked with both the Ninette de Valois dance company and the Theatre Ballet Company and eventually became the one of the leading dramatic dancers with the Royal Ballet.
      16. 3. 2 silk dresses, The dresses belonged to Angel Symon's niece, Perdita Eldridge, who wore them to the Adelaide premiere of the Ballet Russes at the Theatre Royal in 1936. Perdita's adoptive mother, Angel's sister (Elizabeth) Margaret Symon sponsored the Ballet Russes tour to Adelaide. (Stored separately in oversize box in SR)  
      16. 4. Chocolate Box. Nestle brand, blue with pink and yellow flowers painted on. Given to Perdita by Ballet Russes impresario, Colonel Wassily de Basil during the Adelaide premiere. 
Chocolate Box Bland Holt Inkwell Ballet Shoes

Other non-book material received from Miss Symon (after the death of her sister, Mary Clarke, in 1986) has been separately accessioned.
Additional programs, cuttings, book catalogues and correspondence presented by Perdita Eldridge in June 2006 are integrated in existing series.
See:
Theatre illustrations [SR 792 T37428]
Theatre programmes [Theatre 792 T3743]

Rare Books & Special Collections
Address

The University of Adelaide
Rare Books & Special Collections
Level 1, Barr Smith Library
South Australia 5005
Australia

Contact

Phone: +61 8 8313 5224
library_special@adelaide.edu.au