Poster advertising a week's entertainment at the Royal Victoria Hall
Printer: Bowers Brothers
Medium: Print on paper
The Royal Victoria Hall opened in 1818 as the Royal Coburg Theatre. It was renamed the Royal Victoria Theatre in 1833 in honour of Princess Victoria (later Queen Victoria), and soon became affectionately known as the Old Vic.
Emma Cons, a social reformer and member of the Temperance movement, bought the theatre in 1880. Under her management it prospered as "the people's hall", a place of inexpensive family entertainment staging musical sketches, concerts and lectures. Emma Cons was assisted by her niece Lilian Baylis, who took over the management of the theatre when her aunt died in 1912.
A first full Shakespeare season was staged so successfully at the Old Vic in 1914 that the theatre became increasingly used for drama. In the 20th century, a succession of fine actors, including John Gielgud, Laurence Olivier and Ralph Richardson, ensured the Old Vic's fame and reputation.