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Daisy Kennedy Drinkwater scrapbook of John Drinkwater's Shakespearean performances


Held at: University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts [Contact Us]3420 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6206

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.

Overview and metadata sections

John Drinkwater was born on June 1, 1882, the son of Albert Edwin and Annie Beck Brown Drinkwater in Leytonstone, London. Drinkwater was educated in a school in Oxford until the age of fifteen, at which point, he was employed by the Northern Assurance Company in Nottingham as a junior clerk. By the age of eighteen, Drinkwater was working in Birmingham for the same company.

The craft of acting appears to have been inherited (his father left his work as a teacher to pursue acting and playwriting in 1886)—in 1902, at the age of 19, Drinkwater first began performing in plays, the first role being Fabian in Twelfth Night. He also began writing poetry and plays; worked with an amateur dramatic club which became known as "The Pilgrim Players" for which he, in 1910, left his work with the insurance company; and became president of the Birmingham Dramatic and Literary Club. In 1913, his friend Barry Jackson built the Birmingham Repertory Theatre, "the first repertory theatre to be purpose-built in Britain, and the first to stage modern-dress performances of Shakespeare," ( and Drinkwater served as the manager.

During this time, Drinkwater formed close friendships with Rupert Brooke and the two were associated with a group of poets (including Robert Frost, Lascelles Abercrombie and Wilson Gibson) living in Dymock, and contributed to the poetry periodical New Numbers. A series of events including World War I, the deaths of Robert Brooks and Edward Thomas, and Robert Frost's return to the United States, resulted in the end of the "Dymock poets."

In 1920, Drinkwater and his wife, Kathleen Walpole, an actress whom Drinkwater met in 1903 and married in 1906, moved to London; but by 1924, the two were divorced. He married Daisy Fowler Kennedy (1893-1981), an Australia violinist in December, 1924. His success as a playwright had grown and he was known for his plays "Abraham Lincoln," "Mary Stuart," and "Robert Burns;" as well as a film, "The King's People," about King George VI. In 1933, Drinkwater "made a welcome return to the stage," (box 1, folder 1) and was a player in three Shakespearean plays performed from 1933 to 1934 in the Open-Air Theatre in Regent's Park, in London.

In 1937, Drinkwater died of a heart attack at the age of 54. He was survived by his wife Daisy, his daughter Penelope, and two stepdaughters.


John Drinkwater biography,, accessed online 30 September 2022.

Wayne Hancock, 'Kennedy, Daisy Fowler (1893–1981)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 2007, accessed online 30 September 2022.

This collection consists of a scrapbook of material relating to John Drinkwater's performances in three Shakespeare plays at the Open-Air Theatre in Regent's Park during the Theatres first and second seasons (1933 and 1934). It appears that the scrapbook was created by Drinkwater's wife, Daisy Fowler Kennedy Drinkwater. Many items have become unattached and are loose in the scrapbook, but the order has been maintained, in hopes that the order reflects the original placement of material. The plays documented are: The Tempest, performed in 1933 and 1934, with Drinkwater playing the role of Prospero; As You Like It, performed from May 21 to 26, 1934, with Drinkwater playing the Duke; and Twelfth Night, performed from May 28 to June 2, 1934, with Drinkwater playing Malvolio.

For each play, there are programs and photographs, most of which appear to be from rehearsals. Photographs are black and white and many appear to be professional photographs (photographer's names and addresses are stamped on verso) and some have signatures of actors. A fair number of photographs have no identification of the actors, but Margaretta Scott is frequently identified.

Originally laid into the back of the volume are programs for the fourth and fifth weeks in the 1934 season in which Drinkwater did not participate, as well as newspaper clippings regarding the 1934 performances of As You Like It, The Tempest, and Twelfth Night. In some cases, the images in the clippings contain captions that identify actors that could be used to identify actors in photographs within the scrapbook.

Sold by Antiquates Fine and Rare Books, 2021.

University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts
Finding Aid Author
Sam Allingham
Finding Aid Date
2022 September 23
Access Restrictions

This collection is open for research use.

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Copyright restrictions may exist. For most library holdings, the Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania do not hold copyright. It is the responsibility of the requester to seek permission from the holder of the copyright to reproduce material from the Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts.

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Scrapbook of photos and programs from the first and second season of Shakespeare productions by the Open-Air Theatre in Regent's Park, London, featuring John Drinkwater and others, 1933-1934.
Box 1 Folder 1
Programs, originally laid into scrapbook, 1934.
Box 1 Folder 2
Press clippings for "As You Like It," originally laid into scrapbook, 1934 May.
Box 1 Folder 3
Press clippings for "Twelfth Night," originally laid into scrapbook, 1934 May-June.
Box 1 Folder 4
Press clippings for "The Tempest," originally laid into scrapbook, 1934 June-August.
Box 1 Folder 5

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