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“I suppose they have made me a Doctor of Letters owing to my vast correspondence.”

Portrait of Henry IrvingThe Henry Irving Foundation, established by John H.B. Irving, aims to record the Victorian actor’s correspondence, and fully illustrate his life, career and achievement in raising the reputation and status of the theatre in nineteenth century Britain and North America. Irving’s correspondence is widely distributed, with three British archives having major holdings. The Victoria & Albert Museum Theatre Collections hold the largest number of letters, from collections acquired from and given by the actor’s grandson and biographer Laurence Irving. Collections at the Shakespeare Centre Library, Stratford-upon-Avon and Leeds University Library derive from Irving’s Acting Manager, Bram Stoker. Other British and American libraries and archives hold items containing valuable additional information. The Correspondence project aims to draw these sources together for the use of all those interested in the history of the theatre and its place in Victorian society.