Puppet resources in the Theatre and Performance collections
Researching puppetry at the V&A
Sources of information include playbills and programmes for puppet performances on the stage in London, including early 19th century plays adapted for the toy theatre stage.
The library in the Theatre and Performance Reading Room contains a considerable number of books on puppetry.
We hold runs of periodicals such as the 'Newsletter of the British Puppet and Model Theatre Guild', 'The Newsletter of British UNIMA', 'The Puppet Master' - the Journal of the British Puppet and Model Theatre Guild, 'Puppet Notebook' - the periodical of the British UNIMA and 'Animations' - a review of puppet and puppet related theatre. The periodical of The Society for Theatre Research, 'Theatre Notebook', also contains some articles relating to puppetry.
A selection of images of marionette puppets is available on the website and details of over 50 puppets are available within Search the Collections.
This monkey puppet is called a marionette because it is operated from above, by strings attached to a control bar.
It was carved by Arthur Wilkinson, inspired by the toy Italian puppets he had seen in 1914. He started his career as a professional puppeteer by touring his puppets through England in a caravan, performing with his brother Walter (who later concentrated on the glove puppetry revival).
After Arthur married Lily Gair, they became known as the 'Gair Wilkinson Marionettes', and he later assumed the name 'Gair Wilkinson' professionally.
By 1928 he had carved a remarkable set of marionettes, (now owned by the Theatre collections), including the monkey and Marino, Pagliacci and Pimpinella, and Harlequin and Columbine.
The archive of The British Puppet and Model Theatre Guild
This is a collection amassed by members of the Guild and contains a wide variety of material relating to puppetry both in Great Britain and abroad. It includes material relating to the formation and administration of the Guild itself, including minute books, articles, correspondence, photograph albums, and brochures.
The collection includes material relating to Punch and Judy, puppets in Britain, Europe and Asia, and amateur puppet theatre. This may be searched in the Reading Room using the catalogue of the collection prepared by its archivist Tom Howard.
Puppet resources at the V&A's Museum of Childhood
The Museum of Childhood puppet web page also features puppets including hand puppets, string puppets, Bunraku puppets from Japan and shadow puppets from Java.