vivien leigh

For Vivien on her birthday

105 years ago, in the hill station of Darjeeling, West Bengal, Vivien Leigh came into the world. She’s been gone for over half a century but she continues to inspire people of all ages, from all walks of life. Many are drawn to her work, to her gripping life story, to her valiant battle with mental illness. Through cinematic revivals of classics like Gone With the Wind, and in large part thanks to the Internet, her memory lives on.

I’ve posted many tributes to Vivien here in the past. This year, in honour of her birthday, I’d like to share some previously unpublished photographs from the Kendra Bean Collection. Four are from Vivien’s personal snapshot albums. The other two are transparencies taken on the set of The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone. I hope you enjoy! How are you remembering Vivien today?

Vivien Leigh, Laurence Olivier, and pet pekingese at Notley Abbey
Vivien Leigh, Laurence Olivier, and a pekingese at Notley Abbey.
Vivien Leigh and grandson neville Farrington, 1960
Vivien Leigh and grandson Neville Farrington on the set of The Roman Spring of Mrs Stone. Elstree Studios, 1960.
Vivien Leigh with daughter Suzanne and grandson Neville Farrington
Vivien Leigh with her daughter Suzanne and grandson Neville Farrington on the set of The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone. Elstree Studios, 1960.
Vivien Leigh and cat New Boy at Notley Abbey
Vivien Leigh and New Boy at Notley Abbey, 1947.
Vivien Leigh plays cricket at Notley Abbey
Vivien Leigh fields a ball during a cricket match on the lawn at Notley Abbey, 1947. Tarquin Olivier watches.
Vivien Leigh at Notley Abbey
Vivien Leigh at Notley Abbey, ca. 1958.

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Kendra has been the weblady at vivandlarry.com since 2007. She lives in Yorkshire and is the author of Vivien Leigh: An Intimate Portrait, and co-author of Ava Gardner: A Life in Movies (Running Press). Follow her on Twitter @kendrajbean, Instagram at @vivandlarrygram, or at her official website.

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Comments (16)

  1. These are truly special photos. I think my favorite would have to be the one with Tarquin. Just a great moment captured. Vivien looks naturally beautiful as always – just never think of her as being athletic!
    Thanks for sharing Kendra!

    1. Thank you, Karen. I love that photo as well. It’s great to see Vivien relaxed and just *being* amongst her friends and loved ones. Notley was a real idyll.

  2. What a wonderful picture of her with Tarquin! The last photo especially shows how tiny she was – and looks very modern. Thank you for sharing! Love the many sides of Vivien ❤️

  3. I don’t know how I missed these last year, Kendra. I LOVE the photos of Vivien with Suzanne and Neville- there appears to be a real warmth between the three of them. I also love the photo with her and Tarquin. I always knew Vivien was athletic- watch her dance in Tovarich in 1963, and there is no disputing that! But, I hadn’t imagined her playing cricket like a bad-arse. Thank you for sharing these, seeing them brought me some real joy this morning.

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