RICHARDSON, Sir Ralph David (1902-1983). Actor.
Archive of the Richardson family including 4 Autograph Letters Signed of Sir Ralph to his uncle Gilbert, 13 pages 4to and 1 page 4to, 1917-1920, where dated, Brighton and London.
Sir Ralph David Richardson: Sir Ralph's letters date from childhood, through his school days to his early career in the theatre. Interestingly, his handwriting changes dramatically from a conventionally written letter of 1917 from Brighton where he had enrolled at Brighton College in order to study art, to letters of 1920 showing a backward slant, and a later undated letter written after he had become an actor where his letters slant forward again. ÿ
Sir Ralph's mother left his father when he was a baby and it seems from these letters that his father's brother, Gilbert, was a major influence on his life.
Sir Ralph appears to have been unsure about the course of his career, an impression borne out by many of the letters in this group. Two of the 1920 letters refer to the Pelman Institute Vocational Guidance Bureau where evidently at Uncle Gilbert's suggestion (and payment of fees), Sir Ralph went to determine the direction of his career. A lengthy letter describes the series of tests he took at the Institute, though not the results. Because no examples of the questionnaire have been found, his detailed description may be a valuable source.
'... I have been thinking about what you said as regards the chemistry or engineering departments in the works. ...'
Letter of 19 December 1917.
Arthur Richardson: 6 Autograph Letters Signed from Sir Ralph's father, an art teacher at Cheltenham Ladies' College, dating from his early childhood to a thank-you letter for a present received on his 50th birthday. None of them mention his son Ralph.
'... The way I look at it is that one is an Englishman first & afterwards, by chance, a Friend. ...'
Kate Richardson: Two Autograph Letters Signed to David and Isabelle, 30 July no year and 29 July , reporting on family business, including Arthur's illnesses.
Lilian [?Richardson] 'S.R.': Autograph Letter Signed to Gilbert, Brighton, dated in pencil in another hand 13 January 1918.
'... Ralph now thinks he would like to be a Commercial traveller & travel for your firm, but he changes his mind very often. He must try & get on with his Tutor & make up for lost time. ...'
Edith Richardson: Autograph Letter Signed to Gilbert, 2 pages 4to, The Studio Tolmers, nr Hertford, 3 September no year (but during World War I).
'... Ralph has been here for more than a fortnight - very active & amusing. He is devoted to his school & religion & certainly has a quick & thoughtful mind. His one foolishness was believing every person & animal in the countryside to be savage so that he exclaimed in great surprise at seeing a crowd of cows with a man "Not a single one of them is goring him"!! ...'
Sir Ralph's mother was a devout Roman Catholic and hoped that her son would become a priest. He spent some time in a Jesuit seminary in preparation for his vocation, but found the rules too stifling and left after a short time to study art at Xaverian College.