GIELGUD, John. [FORDHAM, Hallam]. SHAKESPEARE. ~ Everyman Library editions of Comedies & Tragedies.
Two volumes, nos. 153 and 155 of the Everyman’s Library. Inscribed by Gielgud in pen on the front pastedown with his address (27 St. Stephen’s Close NW8) and dated 1940. Sm. 8vo., both bound in the original green cloth, rather faded. Decorations by Eric Ravilious on the title pages. London, J.M. Dent,
Together with: FORDHAM, Hallam. John Gielgud: An Actor’s Biography in Pictures. Compiled and described by Hallam Fordham with personal narrative by John Gielgud. London, John Lehmann, 1952. First edition, signed by both Fordham and Gielgud. Sm. 4to., original green cloth, rather faded. Full size photographic portrait of Hallam Fordham inserted loose.
The volume of Comedies has Gielgud’s notes and edits in pen throughout The Tempest for the wartime production he did in 1940, the date of the inscription. The play was put on by Gielgud, Granville-Barker and Guthrie as part of a reopening of The Old Vic to perform Shakespeare as Gielgud felt that the war necessitated the production of solemn, sober theatre. The Tempest was performed between 30th May and 28th June 1940 with Gielgud in the role of Prospero. Alec Guinness played Ferdinand and Jessica Tandy played Miranda. Gielgud shows the many lines which have been edited from the production - scene changes have been left out perhaps due to wartime economies and some lines may have been cut for the sensibilities of the time and to suit the production. There are some word changes too, for instance when Ferdinand says “The white cold virgin snow upon my heart/Abates the ardour of my liver”, liver has been changed to passion in Gielgud’s hand. He has cut one part - perhaps as a prompt for lines he couldn’t remember. Interesting the epilogue has been cut from the production. It is interesting to note that Gielgud’s Prospero was a magnificent success. Ivor Brown in The Observer wrote that his Prospero was “very far from the usual mixture of Father Christmas, a Colonial Bishop, and the President of the Magicians' Union ... a clear, arresting picture of a virile Renaissance notable”.
The second volume of Tragedies has a similar mode of excised lines in Julius Caesar Act V Scene1 and Act V Scene 3 and some full pages extracted at the end of the play, although there no written notes. Julius Caesar was one of Gielgud’s favourite play to perform. He starred as Cassius alongside Marlon Brando’s Mark Anthony in the 1953 film.
Hallam Fordham (d. 1955) was a writer, theatre producer, biographer and a great and close friend of Gielgud, and reputedly his lover. It is clear they moved in the same close circle. This working copy comes directly from his family.