Dark Star: A Biography of Vivien Leigh by Alan Strachan (I B Tauris) has been awarded the Society for Theatre Research Theatre Book Prize 2020.
The book provides a portrait of actress Leigh's professional and personal life using previously unseen sources from her archive. It sheds new light on her relationship with Laurence Olivier, based on their letters and diaries, as well as on Leigh's bipolar disorder, her early life and behind-the-scenes glimpses of the filming of "Gone with the Wind" and "A Streetcar Named Desire".
The Theatre Book Prize is awarded annually by the Society for Theatre Research to the best new book on any aspect of British or British-related theatre history and practice. This year's prize was judged by: Edith Hall, a professor, broadcaster, lecturer, author and theatre consultant; theatre producer Graham Cowley; theatre and dance critic Donald Hutera; and chair of the judges, Howard Loxton, representing the Society for Theatre Research.
They chose the winning title from a shortlist that also included: The Art of the Artistic Director: Conversations with Leading Practitioners by Christopher Haydon (Methuen Drama); The Birth of Modern Theatre: Rivalry, Riots, and Romance in the Age of Garrick by Norman S. Poser (Routledge); An Illustrated History of British Theatre and Performance by Robert Leach (Routledge); Playwriting: Structure, Character, How and What to Write by Stephen Jeffreys and Dr Maeve McKeown (Nick Hern Books); and Shakespeare Spelt Ruin: The Life of Frederick Balsir Chatterton, Drury Lane's Last Bankrupt by Robert Whelan (Jacob Tonson).
Hall said: "It has been a joy and a privilege to read all the books submitted, and being prompted to remember heady days and evenings in live theatres has been a boon during a period of national lockdown where we have been so starved of live entertainment of any kind whatsoever."