Mrs. Patrick Campbell letters to Bertha von Zastrow and other papers
- 1902-1939 and undated
Language of Materials
Conditions Governing Access
This collection is not housed at the Houghton Library but is shelved offsite at the Harvard Depository. Retrieval requires advance notice. Readers should check with Houghton Public Services staff to determine what material is offsite and retrieval policies and times.
Extent1 linear feet (2 boxes)
Includes third-party letters concerning both women and a final series of biographical materials on Campbell, consisting of clippings, obituaries, reviews, and photographs.
Biographical / Historical
The following year, the family flush with his wife’s success, Patrick Campbell returned to England in poor health and poorer fortunes. His condition ensured that his wife would continue on the stage to support the family in the comfort to which they had become accustomed. She performed in generally well received plays by Henrik Ibsen, William Shakespeare, Victorien Sardou, François Coppée, Richard Brinsley Sheridan and Maurice Maeterlinck. At the end of the century, Campbell began her own management company, and following the death of her husband in the South African War, she toured with it throughout Europe and America. She continued her stage career, dabbling in Hollywood productions and lecturing on acting and voice until the end of her life in 1940, when she passed away in France. Campbell is particularly remembered for her role as Eliza Doolittle in Pygmalion, a part written for her by George Bernard Shaw, with whom she also had significant correspondence.
Bertha von Zastrow was the daughter of a Hungarian-born actress who performed under her maiden name, Bertha Gross, and Hermann von Zastrow. Von Zastrow came to the United States from Germany at the age of two with her mother in 1887 and settled in Warren, Pennsylvania, where they lived until 1900. From Warren, they moved to New York City, where they lived together until the mother’s death in 1938.
Von Zastrow apparently never married. In her letters, Campbell inquires after and offers her good wishes to a man named Paul whose assistance was sometimes enlisted through von Zastrow for several tasks on behalf of Campbell. Paul may have lived with von Zastrow and her mother for some years.
Von Zastrow was politically active, particularly in the women’s suffrage movement, and had a role on the Executive Committee of the German-American Suffrage Association along with Mrs. Charles Knoblauch, 1875-1950 (Mary Bookstaver) and Katherine Sophie Dreier, 1877-1952, who was the Committee’s chairperson. Von Zastrow also acted, which is probably how she and Campbell met. The two played together in some productions. The women were certainly friendly, but von Zastrow also seemed to take on the role of assistant to Campbell and was sometimes compensated for it. Money and the “pinch of poverty” felt by both women at different points throughout their correspondence was a common topic. Von Zastrow’s finances were particularly strained in the years prior to the Second World War, and she suffered ill health during those years as well. Von Zastrow lived in New York City until at least 1954.
- I. Letters from Mrs. Patrick Campbell to Bertha von Zastrow.
- II. Other letters.
- III. Biographical miscellany on Mrs. Patrick Campbell.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
- Campbell, Patrick, Mrs., 1865-1940. Mrs. Patrick Campbell letters to Bertha von Zastrow and other papers, 1902-1939: Guide.
- Houghton Library, Harvard College Library
- Description rules
- EAD ID
Part of the Houghton Library Repository
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