Escape to serenity…R C Sherriff’s literary portrayals of rural England

Sherriff idealised the English countryside as a refuge from the ugly realities of modern society. As far back as May 1917 he wrote to his brother, Cecil “Bundy” Sherriff, how he would like to become a farmer if he survived the war: “I am very struck with the idea of…a farm in Good Old England […]

Sherriff women on the stage…Constance, Beryl and Deirdre

R C Sherriff acted in several of his pre-Journey’s End plays, but he was by no means the only member of the Sherriff family to tread the boards. Surviving programmes, cast lists and diaries show that his mother Constance and sister Beryl also performed on the stage in various amateur productions. A letter and related […]

Goat ghosts and other stories…R C Sherriff’s First Steps in the Land of Autobiography

R C Sherriff’s autobiography No Leading Lady was published by Victor Gollancz in 1968. It focuses on his literary career, in particular Journey’s End, and runs through to his final staged play A Shred of Evidence in 1960. It also includes a sprinkling of references to his war service and his family, including his mother Constance. However, these […]

Frivolity in the Sun Fire Office…R C Sherriff and the Oxford Street Times

In early 1919 R C Sherriff was demobilised from the army, and he resumed his pre-war job as an insurance clerk with the Sun Fire Office at its Oxford Street branch. He also wrote in his spare time, having possibly started to write stories and other pieces before the First World War. Oxford Street Times, […]

A class at Kingston Grammar School. Sherriff is in the middle column, third from the back, c.1908

A First Rate Sportsman…R C Sherriff’s School Days

R C Sherriff attended Kingston Grammar School from circa 1905 to 1913. In later years he would look back upon his school days with fond nostalgia, and he maintained links with the School throughout his life. His father Herbert “Pips” Hankin Sherriff was also an ex-grammar school boy, having attended Aylesbury Grammar School in Buckinghamshire […]

Studio portrait of Sherriff by unknown photographer, c. 1930s (SHC Ref. 2332/6/9/3)

Rumblings of discontent at MGM…R C Sherriff and Goodbye, Mr Chips

One of the highlights of R C Sherriff’s screenplay writing career came when he was co-nominated, along with Claudine West and Eric Maschwitz, for Best Screenplay at the 12th Academy Awards for Goodbye, Mr Chips. The film was released by MGM in May 1939 in the USA, and later premiered in London in June 1939. Held […]

Extract from page one of a letter from Mollie Cazalet to Sherriff, 18 September 1948 (SHC Ref. 2332/Box35/2)

Friends in High Places…R C Sherriff and the Cazalet Family

The success of Journey’s End brought Sherriff into contact with various influential people whom he had not had the opportunity to meet in his former life as an insurance clerk. One of these people was socialite Maud Lucia Cazalet (1868-1952), known as “Mollie” to her many friends. She was one of the daughters of Sir […]

Page one of an undated letter from Jeanne de Casalis to Sherriff, c.1934 (SHC Ref. 3813/Box3/6)

Taking on Napoleon Together…R C Sherriff and Jeanne de Casalis’s play St Helena

From his first play A Hitch in the Proceedings in 1921 to A Shred of Evidence in 1960, Sherriff usually researched and wrote his plays on a solo basis. However, the play St Helena, inspired by Napoleon Bonaparte’s exile on the island of the same name, was an exception. It was a joint project with […]

Inside of a military Christmas card from Sherriff, 14 December 1916. It was probably quite frustrating for him not to be able to tell his family where he was on Christmas Day, and to have this very impersonal Christmas card to send. (SHC Ref. 2332/7/8/2)

Christmas on the Western Front with R C Sherriff

Sherriff spent Christmas 1916 in Northern France on active service. He wasn’t with 9th Battalion East Surrey Regiment at this point, as he had been temporarily attached to the 254th Tunnelling Company of the Royal Engineers since 25 October 1916. The Engineers had put Sherriff in joint charge of a tunnelling party of 60 men […]

Cast list for ‘A Hitch in the Proceedings’, c.1921. R C Sherriff is listed as playing the Reverend Teddington Locke, fourth from bottom in the list (SHC Ref. 2332/Box22)

The road to Journey’s EndA Hitch in the Proceedings and other early plays by R C Sherriff

Prior to Sherriff’s international success with Journey’s End in the late 1920s he had already written several plays which were performed by the Kingston Adventurers Dramatic Society, an amateur group, at the Gables Theatre in Surbiton, Surrey. The first of these was A Hitch in the Proceedings, a light hearted one-act farce which was probably […]