They form part of the Roy Waters Theatre Collection, amassed by teacher and school inspector Roy Waters over four decades. It was bequeathed to Royal Holloway, University of London, after his death in 2010, aged 79.
This remarkable array of ephemera includes manuscript letters from more than 600 actors, actresses, writers and other men and women of the theatre, including Oscar Wilde, Charles Dickens, Ellen Terry and Edmund Kean; postcards, cartes de visite, cabinet cards and cigarette cards; material from toy theatres; plus playbills, programmes, prints, sheet music and newspapers, notably some relating to the assassination of US president Abraham Lincoln in 1865.
Another highlight is Samuel de Wilde's portrait of Stephen Kemble as Falstaff, reputedly the first English actor to play the role without artificial padding.
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