The Phyllis Bedells collection

Phyllis Bedells (1893-1985), was born in Bristol. She was the first British Ballerina to hold the position of ‘Prima Ballerina’ at the Empire Theatre in 1913, where she had been dancing since 1907 and supporting the likes of Adeline Genée and Lydia Kyasht.

In 1920 she became a founding member of the Association of Teachers of Operatic Dancing of Great Britain (later the RAD) and was also one of the original committee members of the Camargo Society in 1930.

The archive contains a variety of materials – programmes, press cuttings and photographs – which provide a comprehensive record of Bedells’ professional dancing career as well as some personal papers and correspondence relating to her work for the RAD and teaching activities. The complete manuscript of her autobiography, My Dancing Days (1954), is housed alongside several other interview transcripts and scripts for radio programmes or magazine articles presenting a very detailed profile of her life and career.