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Edgar Hockley collection

Call Number: MSS 9

Scope and Contents

The collection consists of about 270 sheets containing approximately 1,000 costume and set design drawings by Edgar Hockley from late-Victorian London stage productions, many of which are believed to have been commissioned by Henry Irving. Also present are theatre programs and clippings from the same period. Drawings in the collection are unsigned; attribution to Hockley is based on a similar collection of drawings in the archives of the Victoria & Albert Museum. Hockley's name also appears on one envelope in the collection, box 4, item 10a.

A large majority of the drawings were made using graphite only, but a number also contain watercolor, pen and ink, and gouache. Most of the drawings are accompanied by detailed notes on colors or other aspects of appearance.


  • 1886-1924
  • Majority of material found within 1886 - 1897


Conditions Governing Access

The materials are open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

The collection is the physical property of the Yale Center for British Art. Literary rights, including copyright, belong to the authors or their legal heirs and assigns. For further information, consult the Curator of Rare Books and Manuscripts.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Acquired 2004, Paul Mellon Fund.


The collection is arranged into four series: I. Theatre Programs and Clippings; II. Designs By Production; III. Designs By Era; IV. Designs By Subject. Folders are arranged alphabetically by production (Series I and II) or topic (Series III and IV).


1.68 Linear Feet (4 boxes)

Language of Materials


Catalog Record

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

Persistent URL


This collection comprises costume and set design drawings by Edgar Hockley depicting late-Victorian London stage productions. Also present are theatre programs and clippings from the same period.

Biographical / Historical

The artist Edgar Hockley (1860-1938) achieved primary success as a wood-engraver, the profession listed alongside his name in the census of 1881. In 1891 he is listed as "wood engraver and draughtsman"; in 1901, as "retired wood engraver." The Victoria & Albert Museum notes: "Edgar Hockley's connections with the theatrical world and the specific reason for executing these sketches [in the V&A's collection of related material] is still unknown. Hockley was not designing anything, but recording finished productions and noting details of their appearance, especially their colours that he identified using professional paint colour names such as 'madder', 'gamboge' and 'cobalt blue'. From what we can glean of his life from census returns there is no evidence of theatrical relations or links, although he must have been well known especially in the London theatre world to gain entry to the dress rehearsals of the productions he sketched. It is highly unlikely that he could have made sketches and detailed notes such as these from a seat in a darkened auditorium." For the V&A's full description of Hockley, and their collection of Hockley material, see:


  • Bailey, Celia E. “The Cattermole Family of Artists Part Two: The Second Generation.” The Magazine for the International Collector of Watercolours, Drawings and Prints, v. 6.1 (1991), p. 27-29.
  • Booth, Michael R. Theatre in the Victorian Age. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991.
  • Holland, Peter. “The RSC and Studio Shakespeare.” Essays in Criticism, v. 32.3 (July 1982), p. 205-218.
  • Irving, Henry, and Jeffrey Richards. Theatre, Culture and Society: Essays, Addresses and Lectures. Keele: Ryburn Publishing, Keele University Press, 1994.
  • Jowers, Sidney J, and John Cavanagh. Theatrical Costume, Masks, Make-Up and Wigs: A Bibliography and Iconography. London: Routledge, 2000.
  • Richards, Jeffrey. Sir Henry Irving: A Victorian Actor and His World. London: Hambledon and London, 2005.
  • Rowell, George. Theatre in the Age of Irving. Totowa, N.J: Rowman and Littlefield, 1981.
  • Stoker, Bram. Personal Reminiscences of Henry Irving. New York: Macmillan, 1906.
Guide to the Edgar Hockley Collection
compiled by Brian Baldi; edited by Francis Lapka
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Part of the Yale Center for British Art, Rare Books and Manuscripts Repository

Department of Rare Books and Manuscripts
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P. O. Box 208280
New Haven CT 06520-8280 US


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