Speaight, George Victor 1914–2005

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Speaight, George Victor 1914–2005

OBITUARY NOTICE—See index for CA sketch: Born September 6, 1914, in Hatfield, Hertfordshire, England; died December 22, 2005, in Kew, Surrey, England. Puppeteer, editor, and author. Speaight was a lifelong puppeteer who was considered an authority on toy theater. Interested in toy theaters from the time he was a boy, he pursued a career in puppetry after his family could no longer afford to send him to college. He spent the 1930s training and performing his craft until World War II began. At first, Speaight was in the Fire Service, but he later joined the merchant marine and then the Royal Navy, where he was a radio operator. After the war, he began putting his extensive knowledge of toy theater down in book form with the publication of Juvenile Drama: The History of the English Toy Theatre in 1946. Home again in England, he worked for the toy theater company Pollock's and, in 1948, cofounded the Society for Theatre Research. All the while continuing to perform in theaters himself, Speaight worked at the Nottingham Playhouse in the early 1950s as a public-relations officer. In 1955 he published another book on his favorite subject, The History of the English Puppet Theatre, which was later released as Punch and Judy: A History (1970; revised edition, 1990). Speaight started working regularly as an editor for Rainbird Publishing Group from 1960 to 1974, as well as for his own Society for Theatre Research in London. Retiring from Rainbird as editorial director, he diverged into circus history with The Book of Clowns (1980) and A History of the Circus (1980). His last book was The Juvenile Drama: A Catalogue (1999), but his performances as a puppet master continued to entertain audiences into the twenty-first century at such events as Britain's Puppet Guild Festival.



Daily Telegraph (London, England), January 14, 2006.

Guardian (London, England), January 12, 2006, p. 36.

Independent (London, England), December 30, 2005, p. 34.

Times (London, England), December 24, 2005, p. 52.