The Chalk Garden

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The Chalk Garden
First edition (Random House, 1956)
Written by Enid Bagnold
Characters Mrs St Maugham
Miss Madrigal
Date premiered 26 October 1955
Place premiered Ethel Barrymore Theatre
Original language English

The Chalk Garden is a play by Enid Bagnold that premiered on Broadway in 1955. The play tells the story of Mrs. St Maugham and her granddaughter Laurel, a disturbed child under the care of Miss Madrigal, a governess. The setting of the play was inspired by Bagnold's own garden at North End House in Rottingdean, near Brighton, Sussex, the former home of Sir Edward Burne-Jones. The work has since been revived numerous times internationally, including a film adaptation in 1964.

Production history[edit]

The Chalk Garden premiered on Broadway at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre on 26 October 1955. Irene M. Selznick was the producer, and the designer was Cecil Beaton. Gladys Cooper (who was also in the 1971 revival) appeared as Mrs. St Maugham, with Siobhán McKenna as Miss Madrigal, Betsy von Furstenberg as Laurel, and Fritz Weaver as Maitland. The play received several Tony Award nominations including Best Play, Best Actress for both Gladys Cooper and Siobhán McKenna, Best Featured Actor for Fritz Weaver, and Best Director for Albert Marre.

The Chalk Garden made its London debut at the Theatre Royal Haymarket in April 1956, directed by John Gielgud with Edith Evans as Mrs. St Maugham, Peggy Ashcroft as Miss Madrigal, and Rachel Gurney as Olivia. In England, the play was censored by the Lord Chamberlain's office; an instance of the word "violated" was changed to "ravished".[1]

The 1964 film featured Edith Evans as Mrs. St. Maugham, and Deborah Kerr as Miss Madrigal, Hayley Mills as Laurel, and John Mills as the butler Maitland. It was directed by Ronald Neame. Edith Evans was nominated in 1965 for an Oscar as Best Actress in a Supporting Role.The production was filmed at East Dean in Sussex.

The BBC broadcast a radio adaptation of the play in 1968, with Edith Evans recreating her role. It was re-broadcast on BBC Radio 4 Extra in 2014.

The play was revived in the West End in 1971 at the Theatre Royal Haymarket with Gladys Cooper (who appeared in the 1955 Broadway premiere) and Joan Greenwood, directed by William Chappell.

A 2008 production was directed by Michael Grandage, with Margaret Tyzack, Penelope Wilton, and Felicity Jones, at the Donmar Warehouse, in London. The BBC Radio 3 broadcast a radio version of the play with the same cast in the same year.

A Broadway revival was slated to open in late 2013 with Angela Lansbury playing Mrs. St. Maugham. In 2015 there have been rumors of a West End production, with Lansbury.


  1. ^ The Chalk Garden: A play (1984). ISBN 0-573-60689-7. p. 3.

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