James Robinson Planché, a dramatist, antiquary, and officer of arms, was born in Piccadilly, London, on February 27, 1796; the son of Huguenot refugees. He wrote or adapted over 170 plays over the course of his 60 year career; these included extravaganzas, farces, comedies, burlettas, melodramas, and operas. Planche was also the first to introduce historically accurate costume into 19th century British theatre; he also wrote several important works on costume as an acknowledged expert. His antiquary research led him to be appointed Rogue Croix Pursuivant in 1854 and promoted to Somerset Herald in 1866. Planché married Elizabeth St. George (1796-1846), on April 26, 1821; she was also a published playwright. They had two daughters, Katherine Frances (b. 1823), who later married William Curteis, and Matilda Anne (b. 1826), who became a children's author under her married name of Mackarness. Planché continued to write and pursue his antiquarian studies until the last year of his life; he died in Chelsea, on May 30, 1880.
Scope and Content
The majority of the collection consists of manuscripts, correspondence, documents, drawings and ephemera directly related to James Robinson Planché and his work in the theatre, antiquarian pursuits, and costume expertise. Among the authors and correspondents are: John Baldwin Buckstone, William E. Gladstone, Benjamin Robert Haydon, Leigh Hunt, Ellen Kean, Frances Maria Kelly,Charles Kemble, Albert Denison (Baron Londesborough), Rosina Bulwer Lytton (Baroness Lytton), William Charles Macready, Richard Brinsley Peake, Jane Porter, David Roberts, William Makepeace Thackeray, and Carl Maria von Weber. The other main part of the collection is material, including fragments and clipped signatures, which were collected for the autograph value only, and have no relation to Planché or his work. Among these authors and correspondents are: Adelaide, Queen consort of William IV, William Blanchard, Richard Daly, Thomas Frognall Dibdin, George III, Edwin Henry Landseer, Robert Peel, William Pitt, Lucia E.B. Vestris, and Arthur Wellesley (Duke of Wellington). There is also a small group of letters written to Thomas Francis Dillon Croker, mainly regarding Planché and his work and family. The ephemera consists of printed material, including printed play texts, newspaper clippings, a scrapbook, and printed musical scores.