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Edward Gordon Craig collection

Call Number: GEN MSS 433

Scope and Contents

This finding aid encompasses accessions of single manuscripts and small groups of manuscripts and other papers, by or pertaining to Edward Gordon Craig, acquired by the library from a variety of sources. Series I, Hamill and Barker Purchase (1912-1958), contains letters from a variety of correspondents to Craig's friend Ewald Junge, who also collected Craig material. The letters include five folders of letters from Craig, and notes on Craig's collection of his own personal papers. Series II, Materials from Other Sources (1905-1963), includes an annotated copy of Craig's autobiography, Index to the Story of My Days, with clippings, photographs and proofs of woodcuts laid in, and letters, notes and a specimen page removed from the volume and foldered; one letter from Craig to Theodore Sizer accompanied by a small etching; two woodcuts by Craig inscribed to Haldane and Mabel Macfall; forty photographs relating to Craig's scenic models for the 1912 Moscow Art Theatre production of Hamlet; and prospectus, dummy, first proof and revised proof with corrections of Craig's book Towards a New Theatre.


  • 1905 - 1963


Conditions Governing Access

The materials are open for research.

Portfolio folders 31-34: Restricted fragile material. Reference surrogates have been substituted in the main files. For further information consult the appropriate curator.

Conditions Governing Use

The Edward Gordon Craig Collection is the physical property of the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University. Literary rights, including copyright, belong to the authors or their legal heirs and assigns. For further information, consult the appropriate curator.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Ongoing collection of documents acquired by gift and purchase from various sources. Source information is recorded on the folders. For further information, consult the appropriate curator.


Organized into two series: I. Hamill and Barker Purchase, 1912-1958. II. Materials from Other Sources, 1905-1963.


1.05 Linear Feet ((4 boxes) + 2 portfolios)

Language of Materials


Catalog Record

A record for this collection is available in Orbis, the Yale University Library catalog

Persistent URL


Edward Gordon Craig was born in England on 16 January 1872, the son of the actress Ellen Terry and the architect E. W. (Edward William) Godwin. In 1878, at the age of six, he made his first stage appearance in a production of Olivia, by W. G. Wills. He studied at Southfield Park and Bradfield College, and was a member of Henry Irving's theater company at the Lyceum Theatre in London beginning in 1889.

In 1893, Craig married May Gibson, and moved from London to Uxbridge. Under the influence of the artists James Ferrier Pryde and William Nicholson, he learned the art of wood-engraving, and began his career as a graphic designer. In 1893 he directed and designed his first stage production: Alfred de Musset's On ne badine pas avec l'amour. Around this time he also published a magazine, The Page, consisting mostly of his own engravings, and in 1899 published a book of woodcuts with accompanying verses entitled Gordon Craig's Book of Penny Toys.

Craig's career as a stage designer continued to evolve as he collaborated with Martin Shaw in 1901 and 1902 productions of Dido and Aeneas, The Mask of Love and other plays. In 1904 Craig traveled to Berlin to work with the Lessing Theatre, and in 1905 he published his most famous essay, The Art of the Theatre, which was later expanded and republished as On the Art of the Theatre. In Germany he met the dancer Isadora Duncan, with whom he had a brief but intense affair, ending in 1906. Duncan persuaded the theater producer Konstantin Stanislavsky to invite Craig to Moscow, and there he designed an important 1912 production of Hamlet. In 1913, Craig fulfilled a longtime dream by founding his School for the Art of the Theatre in the Arena Goldoni in Florence; however, it closed shortly thereafter at the outbreak of World War I.

Over his long career Craig became known as an important innovator in theater design, popularizing a modern, minimalist style in contrast to the more extravagant style of his mother's age, and his writings, artwork and design had an enormous impact on twentieth-century theater. His publications include the theatrical periodical The Mask (1908-1929), and the books Books and Theatres (1925), Ellen Terry and Her Secret Self (1931), Nothing, or, the Bookplate (1924), The Theatre - Advancing (1919) and his autobiography, Index to the Story of My Days (1957). He spent the last years of his life in the south of France, and died there in 1966.

Processing Information

This finding aid is updated periodically to account for new materials that have been added to the collection. The date of the most recent update is noted on the title page. For information on material that may have been acquired for the collection since the last update, please consult the Public Service Desk.

Guide to the Edward Gordon Craig Collection
Under Revision
by Kathryn Rawdon and Beinecke Staff
January 1999
Description rules
Beinecke Manuscript Unit Archival Processing Manual
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Part of the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library Repository

P. O. Box 208330
New Haven CT 06520-8330 US
(203) 432-2977


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New Haven, CT 06511

Opening Hours

Access Information

The Beinecke Library is open to all Yale University students and faculty, and visiting researchers whose work requires use of its special collections. You will need to bring appropriate photo ID the first time you register. Beinecke is a non-circulating, closed stack library. Paging is done by library staff during business hours. You can request collection material online at least two business days in advance of your visit, using the request links in Archives at Yale. For more information, please see Planning Your Research Visit and consult the Reading Room Policies prior to visiting the library.