This blog has been written by Samantha Ennis, Archive Assistant at Heritage Quay, about her role in assisting in the cataloguing of the Sir Patrick Stewart Archive.
Sir Patrick Stewart’s final year as the University of Huddersfield’s Chancellor was 2015, which was the same year I graduated from Huddersfield. Unfortunately, I did not meet Patrick at my graduation but I have since had the opportunity of handling many of his personal and professional items. I now work in the university archives and my latest project was to catalogue a large section of his career.
For those that only know him as the famous actor and Yorkshireman, or University Chancellor, researching his extensive career through handling his possessions can help researchers learn more about him.
By seeing and handling material, you feel a personal connection. Heritage Quay has many of his scripts from TV, film, theatre and radio. There are nine boxes containing scripts from the 1950s to the 2010s and many contain notations to assist him in the interpretation of performances or contain his doodles and other notes. Some also have notes and messages from directors and fellow actors on the rehearsal process or record seeing a production once in the performance phase.
Patrick, like many of us, has kept many mementos of his personal and professional life. There are a large number of play programmes in the collection. Some of these programmes are from Patrick’s school years at Mirfield Drama Federation pageant and Calder Valley Summer School. These programmes date from 1954 to 2012, from the UK to the USA charting his acting career. He acted in many plays on both sides of the Atlantic, although he is probably better known to younger audiences for his roles in Star Trek and X-Men.
The collection also contains collected press coverage of his life and career. One newspaper cutting that stood out to me was not really about Patrick but about his dog Blackie. Blackie was a rescue dog who joined Patrick on stage in The Royal Shakespeare Company’s production of The Two Gentlemen of Verona. It’s great that these little features of Sir Patrick’s life are reflected in the archives.
The section on Patrick’s professional papers includes numerous awards from the 1990s to the 2010s. Patrick also kept diaries and we hold sixteen of these from 1973 and 1975 to 1989 as well as a red notebook where he recorded his thoughts on plays he was in during his time in reparatory theatre in the 1960s.
We also hold photographs of Patrick from the 1970s to the 2010s. These photographs are both of his professional life but also contain a few personal photographs. Among all the professional papers there is also a section relating to his personal life. This part of the collection contains letters, postcards, certificates, scrapbooks and caricatures to name a few. It also contains material relating to his family members and his time as a pupil at Mirfield Modern School.
You too can handle these belongings by visiting Heritage Quay when we re-open. More on visiting the search room is available here: https://heritagequay.org/visit/