Trewin, J.C. (writer)

Reference: MS 4739Date: 1896-1990Extent: c.1000 items

J.C. Trewin (1908-1990) was a noted theatre critic and writer.

He was born in Plymouth in 1908, the only son of Captain John Trewin (mariners) and Annie James. His parents were native to Cornwall and Trewin grew up at the tip of the Lizard Peninsula. The Cornish landscape lived on in Trewin’s imagination for the rest of his life. In 1926 he got his first job writing for the Western Independent in Plymouth as a cub reporter, writing on local events and particularly local theatre performances. It was in the offices there that he met his future wife Wendy Elizabeth Monk, with whom he shared many interests. They married in 1938.

He moved to London in 1932 where he became a drama critic for the Morning post and then The Observer where he progressed to literary editor. He rarely missed a West End opening night and in 1983 he reckoned that he had reviewed around 7000 performances.

He was also a prolific writer of almost 100 books on topics such as topography, biography and theatre history. His encyclopedic knowledge of plays and performances was highly regarded. He gained a Fellowship of Royal Society of Literature in 1954, presidency of the Critics’ Circle from 1964-5, an honorary degree from the University of Birmingham in 1978 and an OBE for services to theatre in 1981.

This large collection of his papers includes letters from many actors and playwrights, along with typescripts of articles and handwritten notes. Trewin also collected material relating to the history of the British theatre, including theatre programmes, photographs of theatre productions, cuttings and articles, a number of letters relating to theatre history, and theatre posters.

More information

  • A full description is available on our online database.
  • A handlist for the whole collection is available here.
  • See also a list of other writers’ and artists’ archives here.

Sources from our library collections