GBL Wilson Collection

George Buckley Laird Wilson (1908-1984), became an enthusiastic follower of ballet when he befriended Arnold Haskell and the young Beryl Grey in the early 1940s. Wilson began photographing ballet in 1941. His enthusiasm and his ability to build lasting friendships gave him access to dancers not only in performance situations but also off-stage, in rehearsals and at social functions, in the UK and abroad. The huge photographic archive that he accumulated over forty years was bequeathed to the RAD and more than 5000 images have now been digitized and are available for viewing on the Arenapal website.

Car visitor books

The GBL Wilson collection also includes 24 ‘car visitor books’ – autograph books containing a photo and message from all of the professional dancers or choreographers who travelled in one of his favoured Rover cars between 1949 and the early 1980s. Included are dancers from many countries, and famous names such as Rudolf Nureyev, Gelsey Kirkland, Frederick Ashton, Maurice Béjart, Bronislava Nijinska, George Balanchine, Martha Graham, Jerome Robbins, Moira Shearer, Peter Schaufuss and William Forsythe.

Other material includes notes, corrections and working copies of Wilson’s Dictionary of Ballet (1957), plus various posters & prints connected with his lecturing.