Held at: University of Delaware Library Special Collections [Contact Us]181 South College Avenue, Newark, DE 19717-5267
This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the University of Delaware Library Special Collections. 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
The Abbey Theatre was established in Dublin in 1904 as a venue for Irish playwrights. It developed out of the Irish Literary Theatre, which had been founded by William Butler Yeats and Lady Gregory in 1899. In 1902, that organization was taken over by the Irish National Dramatic Society and in 1903 became the Irish National Theatre Society. Yeats enlisted financial assistance for the Abbey from Edward Martyn in exchange for producing several of Martyn's plays. Yeats found further monetary patronage through Miss Annie E. F. Horniman, an English woman interested in the work of the Irish National Theatre Society. It was she who provided the funds to purchase the building in which the Abbey Theatre was established. The Theatre officially opened on December 27, 1904, with productions ofOn Baile's Strand by W. B. Yeats and Spreading the News by Lady Gregory. J. M. Synge joined the other two as co-director.
During the 1900s and 1910s, the Theatre was plagued with financial troubles, which were accentuated by World War I and the Irish Rebellion of 1916. Artistic disputed between Yeats and his backers also almost cut short the life of the theatre. However, the Theatre continued to produce and, in 1924, it became the first state-sponsored theatre in the world. As a result of their lifelong commitment to Irish theatre, the Abbey nurtured the careers of such influential playwrights as Lennox Robinson, Sean O'Casey, J. M. Synge, George Bernard Shaw, and Padraic Colum.
In 1928, a smaller theatre, the Peacock, was opened in a building adjacent to the Abbey. This theatre was to serve as a forum for experimental productions. In July 1951, fire destroyed the entire back stage area of the Abbey and all performances were transferred to the Queen's Theatre. The Abbey Theatre did not reopen until 1966. It was rebuilt on its original site with the Peacock Theatre installed on the basement level.
While Yeats preferred to maintain absolute control over Abbey productions, as he and Lady Gregory advanced in age, he employed a series of carefully selected managers to handle the day-to-day affairs of the Theatre. After the death of Lady Gregory in 1932 and Yeats in 1939, the Abbey Theatre continued to mainly produce the works of Irish writers.
Kavanagh, Peter.The Story of the Abbey Theatre. New York: Devin Adair Co., 1950. Welch, Robert.The Abbey Theatre, 1899-1999: Form and Pressure. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999.
The Abbey Theatre playbills and related materials comprise one hundred and six playbills for Abbey Theatre productions that took place between 1909 and 1955 and in 1994. The playbills document the works of important Irish writers, including Lady Augusta Gregory, W. B. Yeats, J. M. Synge, Lennox Robinson, George Bernard Shaw, Padraic Colum, and Sean O'Casey. The specific plays produced were often important first-time productions. The collection includes playbills for productions ofThe Rising of the Moon (Gregory), The Jackdaw (Gregory), Spreading the News (Gregory), The Gaol Gate (Gregory), Hyacinth Halvey (Gregory), The Hour Glass (Yeats), On Baile's Strand (Yeats), Kathleen Ni Houlihan (Yeats), A Pot of Broth (Yeats), Riders to the Sea (Synge), and In the Shadow of the Glen (Synge). A small number of the playbills contain related newspaper clippings.
The collection includes other materials associated with Abbey Theatre productions. A program from 1907 lists plays performed during a visit of the company to Cambridge, England. One pamphlet collects the opinions of the London press regarding the Second Company of the Abbey Theatre. The collection also houses an original poster from the production of Frank O'Connor and Mary Manning'sThe Saint and Mary Kate and a playbill from a 1994 touring production of Jimmy Murphy's Brothers of the Brush.
The materials in the collection are arranged chronologically in each of two series: I. Playbills, 1909-1955, 1994 and II. Other materials, circa 1907-1994.
- Box 1: Shelved in SPEC MSS record center cartons
- F109: Shelved in SPEC MSS oversize boxes (18 inches)
Purchase, 2000. Gift of Bernard McKenna, September 2007.
Processed by Theresa Hessey, December 2001. Encoded by Debra Johnson, 2007.
- Gregory, Lady, 1852-1932
- Yeats, W. B. (William Butler), 1865-1939
- Synge, J. M. (John Millington), 1871-1909
- University of Delaware Library Special Collections
- Finding Aid Author
- University of Delaware Library, Special Collections
- Finding Aid Date
- 2006 March 29
- Access Restrictions
The collection is open for research.
- Use Restrictions
Use of materials from this collection beyond the exceptions provided for in the Fair Use and Educational Use clauses of the U.S. Copyright Law may violate federal law. Permission to publish or reproduce is required from the copyright holder. Please contact Special Collections Department, University of Delaware Library, https://library.udel.edu/static/purl.php?askspec
Lady Gregory, The Miser, 1909 January 21-23.
Lady Gregory, The Rising of the Moon, 1909 February 11-13.
Lady Gregory, Spreading the News, 1909 September 16-18.
W. F. Casey, The Surburban Groove, 1909 October 14-16.
Lady Gregory, The Rising of the Moon, 1909 November 11-13.
S. L. Robinson, Harvest, 1910 May 19 and 21.
Lady Gregory, The Workhouse Ward, and October 1, 1910 September 29, 30.
Lord Dunsany, The Glittering Gate, 1910 October 31 and November 1, 2.
Lady Gregory, The Full Moon, 1910 November 10-12.
Lady Gregory, Coats
William Boyle, The Building Fund, 1910 December 1-3.
W. B. Yeats, The Hour Glass
Bernard Shaw, The Shewing-Up of Blanco Posnet, 1911 January 14.
W. F. Casey, The Man Who Missed the Tide, 1911 January 26-28.
T. C. Murray, Birthright
W. B. Yeats, A Pot of Broth, 1911 February 16-18.
Edward McNulty, The Lord Mayor, 1911 April 13, 15.
Lady Gregory, Hyacinth Halvey, 1912 April 11-13.
Joseph Campbell, Judgement
W. B. Yeats, A Pot of Broth, 1912 April 15-17.
William Boyle, Family Failing, 1912 October 17-19.
Lady Gregory, Damer's Gold
Lady Gregory, The Gaol Gate, 1912 November 21-23.
Lennox Robinson, Patriots, 1913 October 16-18.
Lady Gregory, Spreading the News, 1913 November 11-12.
St. John G. Ervine, Mixed Marriage, 1913 November 20-22.
Seamus O'Kelly, The Bribe, 1913 December 18-20.
Seamus O'Brien, Duty
William Boyle, The Building Fund, 1913 December 16-17.
Victor O'D. Power, David Mahoney
Lady Gregory, The Jackdaw, 1914 January 29-31.
Edward McNulty, The Lord Mayor, 1914 March 13-14.
Lady Gregory, Spreading the News, 1914 April 14-16, 18.
W. B. Yeats, Kathleen Ni Houlihan, 1916 March 7, 9-11.
George Fitzmaurice, The Country Dressmaker, 1916 March 14.
Lord Dunsany, A Night at an Inn, 1919 Aug 25, 27, and 29.
Lady Gregory, Hyacinth Halvey, 1923 February 6.
Bernard Duffy, The Coiner, 1923 October 8.
George Fitzmaurice, The Country Dressmaker, 1923 November 19.
Lennox Robinson, Crabbed Youth and Age, 1926 April 19.
Fand O'Grady, Apartments, 1926 September 27.
William Boyle, The Eloquent Dempsey, 1931 April 14.
Lennox Robinson, The White Blackbird, 1934 February 19.
Includes two newspaper clippings.
Includes "Announcement" of upcoming productions.
J. M. Synge, Deidre of the Sorrows, 1935 May 13.
F. R. Higgins, A Deuce O' Jacks, 1935 September 16.
Translated by Hugh De Blacam. Includes one newspaper clipping.
W. B. Yeats, The Land of Heart's Desire
Seamus O'Kelly, Meadowsweet, 1935 December 29.
"Complimentary Performance to Dr. J. F. Larchet"
Includes one newspaper clipping.
Sean O'Casey, The End of the Beginning, 1937 February 8.
W. B. Yeats, Purgatory
Lady Gregory, Damer's Gold, 1938 August 10.
Lennox Robinson,Church Street, 1938 August 12.
Lennox Robinson, Church Street, 1942 December 6.
Sean O'Casey, The Shadow of a Gunman, 1950 July 17.
Bernard Shaw, The Shewing-Up of Blanco Posnet, 1951 March 24.
Sean O'Casey, The Shadow of a Gunman, 1951 November 5.
Irish plays presented at the Victoria Assembly Rooms in Cambridge, May 20-24, 1907. Plays performed by the National Theatre Society Ltd. of the Abbey Theatre included performances ofThe Rising of the Moon by Lady Gregory; The Hour Glass by W. B. Yeats; Riders to the Sea by J. M. Synge; The Jackdaw by Lady Gregory; On Baile's Strand by W. B. Yeats; Kathleen Ni Houlihan by W. B. Yeats; Spreading the News by Lady Gregory; The Gaol Gate by Lady Gregory; A Pot of Broth by W. B. Yeats; In the Shadow of the Glen by J. M. Synge; and Hyacinth Halvey by Lady Gregory.
Removed to: SPEC MSS oversize boxes (18 inches)
Playbill for touring Abbey Theatre production.