vivien leigh

Remember, Remember the 5th of November

Roses for Vivien Leigh, 54 Eaton Square London

People have already started setting off fireworks in north London for Bonfire Night, or Guy Fawkes’, a celebration of the failed Gunpowder Plot to blow up Parliament in 1605. For Vivien Leigh fans, this day has a different kind of significance because it happens to be her birthday. Vivian Mary Hartley was born on the evening of November 5, 1913 in Darjeeling, India. Here at, there has been a tribute every year since the site was launched. In 2010, I took some roses to her former home in 54 Eaton Square, Blegravia, one of the most swanky neighborhoods in London where a blue English Heritage plaque reminds passers-by that a Very Important Person once resided there. This year, I invited other people to join. Many fans who visit the site live overseas, and many in London weren’t able to make it, but a few of us got together to celebrate!

I met Anthony, a Polish fan who now lives in London, at Victoria Station where we bought a bouquet of flowers before walking over to Eaton Square. There we met Zara and Chloe, two fabulous young ladies who attended the Weekend with the Oliviers back in May. A nice woman pushing a pram let us into the garden where we snapped some photos of the bench that Gertrude Hartley (Vivien’s mother) dedicated to her famous daughter in 1967, following Vivien’s death. We also had a celebrity sighting when we saw two-time Oscar winner Luise Rainer being escorted into No. 54 by her caregiver. The 101 year old German actress now occupies Vivien’s old flat.

Afterward, the four of us had lunch on the top floor of Peter Jones department store in Sloane Square, which offered a beautiful view of the rooftops of Kensington and Chelsea. They had good scones, too. This was followed by a walk over to Durham Cottage, which is looking particularly lovely and antiquated with all of the falling leaves.

Having done so many bi-annual tributes for Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh, it’s difficult to think of anything new to say about why I admire them, or why I’m glad that so many other people still share in this admiration. I only know that I do still admire Vivien Leigh and I am glad that other people still do, as well. She’s been dead for nearly 45 years and yet so many people still love and remember her. I think this is a true testament to her legacy.

Vivien Leigh

November 5, 1913 – July 7, 1967

“Only England could have produced her. She was the perfect English rose. When the door opened and she was there, she was so terribly good-looking. She had such an exquisite unreality about her.” – former Vogue editor in chief Diana Vreeland

Kendra has been the weblady at 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 (21)

  1. Sounds like a lovely, gentle day and a perfect tribute to an even lovelier lady. The white roses are so apropos, as is your blog today. I thought it had the absolutely perfect tone.
    Thank you again, Kendra, for a job well done. <3

  2. What a lovely tribute to Vivien on would have been her 98th birthday !
    I love that you went to celebrate her birthday . Her spirit still lingers there .

    I was thinking about Vivien too . the way I channel her is by wearing her signature scent Joy ..

    Did you ever try smelling Joy ? It is gorgeous just like Viv..

  3. The white roses are so apropos, as is your blog today. I thought it had the absolutely perfect tone.Thanks for the post, keep sharing.

  4. Vivien always seems so ‘now’ and timeless, that whenever I realise it’s been nearly 100 years since she was born, and over 40 years since she died, I’m somewhat taken aback. At the same time, it’s hard to imagine anyone with her qualities and talent (and her looks, but that goes without saying, really) nowadays.

    I think it’s lovely that this date is celebrated with such affection and class by her fans and I really hope to be able to join in come the anniversaries of darling Viv’s 99th and 100th birthdays.

    I spent the 5th of November in a meadow in my village, enjoying the local church fireworks and bonfire as we do every year, and the whole time had quite a private, warm glow thinking about how as far as I was concerned, the whole hoopla was solely for Vivien.

  5. I have enjoyed visiting this site greatly if ever I am in the uk again I will visit some of these gorgeous homes and towns. Thankyou for doing this to enable me to enjoy them from afar.

  6. Viv turns up everywhere, because she knew everybody. When I wrote a book about Richard Wattis in 2005 ‘RICHARD WATTIS GENTLEMAN ACTOR – – ,
    I found out she befriended him on the set of the 1938 film A YANK AT OXFORD –

    On the request of Viv to Larry apparently., Richard starred with his friend Viv in THE SLEEPING PRINCE at the Phoenix Theatre in the 1950’s and of course this led to Richard starring in the 1957 film THE PRINCE & THE SHOWGIRL, where MM played the role ,Viv made soooo famous in the theatre!

    She was a down to earth girl was Viv, and coming from my area of the Black Country, I am sure Richard brought her down to earth regularly :

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