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Reframing Vivien Leigh: Stardom, Archives and Access

This project examines for the first time how the legacies of screen star Vivien Leigh (1913-1967) are archived and curated by a range of public institutions in the South West of England. Fragments of Leigh's star image have been preserved within scattered museum and archive collections across the South West. It was here that she began her married life and fledgling acting career. Such artefacts position her as a global star with local roots.

The project will foreground original scholarly interrogation of Leigh's collections through collaborations with a range of institutions and archivists who have shaped Leigh's legacy for distinct regional audiences. These include The Bill Douglas Cinema Museum at the University of Exeter, The Royal Albert Memorial Museum in Exeter, Devon’s Topsham Museum, and the Victoria & Albert Museum, London. By collaborating with these organisations and individuals, the project will illuminate new stories about the meanings and uses of Leigh's stardom for South West audiences. Through the creation of new digital resources and a podcast series, it will produce detailed new research around museum artefacts that tell of her uniquely South West origins and meanings - including costumes, correspondence, scrapbooks and memorabilia - and the curatorial stories that have resulted in their acquisition and regional significance.

‘Reframing Vivien Leigh’ will thus take public and academic audiences behind the scenes of these local star archives to illuminate new, unseen histories of the life and career of one of the twentieth century's most iconic female stars.

This project is funded through the AHRC ECR Leadership Fellowship scheme.