I’ve been collecting original Vivien Leigh (and Laurence Olivier, but mostly Vivien) memorabilia in earnest for about 10 years now. It began with vintage fan magazines and playbills, and gradually morphed into a focus on original photographs. For some reason I’m not really fussed about clothing, trinkets, or other 3D objects. It’s always been paper for me. Through collecting Vivien Leigh photos I’ve gained a deeper understanding and appreciation of photography in the mid-20th century and I’m particularly drawn to candid press photographs and snapshots – images that pull back the curtain on the glamorous public facade and show Vivien and those around her just being.
There are few things that give me as much pleasure as meeting kindred classic film-loving spirits. And I don’t just mean classic films in general (although, don’t get me wrong, that’s always amazing!), I mean people who share my enthusiasm for Vivien Leigh and Laurence Olivier specifically. I love blogging and maintaining this website because I’ve “met” a lot of really awesome people with whom I can talk about these things via email, facebook, twitter, etc. But the number of people I’ve met outside of the internet who really get it can be counted on one hand. Most people just can’t be bothered, and because I know this, a lot of times I feel shy or nervous about talking about it for fear of being laughed at or dismissed as a “crazy fan”. Yes, this is technically considered “fandom” and I know it’s looked down upon, at least within the film studies community (although, that’s not always the case, as I discovered after a chat with one of my film tutors last semester). But sometimes I tell myself, “Hey, at least I’m passionate about it, and I take it seriously while still having fun with it. Isn’t that all that matters?” I think that is all that matters.
Something extraordinary happened this week: I met not one, but two fellow fans right here in London!
Yesterday I had coffee near Holborn with Sameera, a lovely British girl who is working on her own epic project about Vivien Leigh. She got in touch with me via vivandlarry.com, we met over skinny lattes and ended up chatting about all things Larry and Vivien for hours! It was fabulous. I can’t wait to see the awesome things she’s cooking up!
Last Sunday, I met up with another fan of the site. Lena B., a gorgeous lady from Sweden has been sharing photos from her Vivien Leigh collection with the site since it launched back in 2007. You’ve probably seen them in the gallery! She was in London on holiday and we met in Covent Garden and had a lovely discussion about Larry and Vivien over croissants and coffee at Paul, my favorite patisserie. Lena had an amazing gift for me: pretty much her entire collection of vintage Vivien Leigh magazines!
Can you believe it?! Seriously, how nice is that? I am still a bit overwhelmed by her generosity. I am not worthy! Lena thought I probably had most of them, but it turns out that I didn’t, and I didn’t even know some of them existed! I do already own some, so it’s likely you may see a few of these lovely publications pop up as contest prizes here on vivandlarry.com! They are definitely in good hands, and will be extremely useful for my dissertation, which I’m starting on as soon as I finish my current school assignments (which I would be more enthusiastic about if I wasn’t home sick with whatever nasty virus is going around right now). Thanks a million for being so kind, Lena!
It warms my heart that there are people who admire Larry and Vivien as much as I do, and who are eager to help spread the love! I am getting really excited about the meet up next month! I’m really curious to know: have you met other fans (of Larry or Vivien, Gone with the Wind, etc.) in real life? If so, where and what was it like? Tell us about it!
One of my favorite things to do is search through piles of old things in book and antique stores. They always say one person’s trash is another person’s treasure, and it’s true! Now, I’m no dumpster diver (okay, my old roommates and I salvaged awesome and perfectly usable furniture for our old apartment. Hey, living in Southern CA ain’t cheap!), but I’ve found some really neat things going through stacks of paper goods in old, musty stores.
Here is one of my favorite finds:
This was found in a fantastic little emphemera shop in Charing Cross Road in London. I had stumbled across this place while doing a summer abroad in Sussex; I had taken the train up to London for the day to meet a friend and had some time to kill, so I just started wandering and there I was. I made a mental note about the place since the owner had some pretty interesting treasures, and when I went back in February 2009, I stopped in again, this time with my friend and fellow Larry and Vivien fan, Kasia. This store is the kind of place that has books piled up everywhere, and it takes a minute for the owner to remember where he’s put things. I started going through an old shoebox full of playbills when I came upon this white envelope. Opening it, I found this!
My departure for London is coming up fast! In 3 weeks I’ll be moving back home, which mean I have a lot of organizing and packing to do. So, I am having a little online yard sale to downsize my collection.
I have a HUGE stack of photography books (mostly old Hollywood and fashion) that I’ve collected over the past 6 years, which I won’t have room for at my parents’, and frankly, I don’t really need them anymore. I would love to pass these on to someone/people who will really appreciate them. All of these contain photos of either Vivien Leigh or Laurence Olivier.
If you are interested, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with the books you want and your location, and I will send you a paypal invoice. All books will be shipped book rate. Shipping included in listed price.
All proceeds from this little yard sale are going toward my grad school savings fund. Thanks for looking!
*Note: I have already sold/given away some of the books in this photo. The ones that I still have available are listed below.
+ A Japanese Vivien Leigh book (text is all in Japanese, but there are quite a lot of photos) | new | $8
+ Frankly, My Dear: GWTW Revisited by Molly Haskell | new but the dust jacket has a fold down the center of the spine | $8
+ David O. Selznick’s Gone with the Wind by Ronald Haver | used–oversize | $12
+ Life in Hollywood: 75 Years of the Academy Awards (with Liz Taylor on the cover) | used (bought new) | $7
+ The Hollywood Storyteller by Mark Drop | used | $7
+ Vanity Fair Photographs of an Age 1914-1936 | used | $14
+ In Vogue 75 Years of Style by Georgina Howell | used–great condition | $20
+ LIFE Faces by John Loengard | used | $10
+ A Photographer’s Scrapbook by Louise Dahl-Wolfe | used–rare | $12
+ The Films of Clark Gable by Gabe Essoe | used | $7
+ LIFE Classic Photographs by John Loengard | used | $10
+ Laurence Olivier Theatre and Cinema | used | $8 —SOLD
+ Hollywood Color Portraits by John Kobal | used–great condition | $17
+ Niven’s Hollywood by Tom Hutchinson | used | $8
+Vivien Leigh Paper Dolls by Tom Tierney | new | $8