Fonds GB 0210 SIANPHIL - Siân Phillips Papers

Identity area

Reference code



Siân Phillips Papers


  • 1934-2022 (Creation)

Level of description


Extent and medium

22 large boxes + 14 small boxes + 2 over-sized folders (0.630 mᶟ)

Context area

Name of creator

Biographical history

Archival history

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

Donated by Dame Siân Phillips, London, December 2019 and May 2022; additional donation March 2023.

Content and structure area

Scope and content

Papers and other material relating to the personal life and professional career of the Welsh actress Siân Phillips, which include material relating to her early education and training and to her subsequent many and varied stage and screen rôles; correspondence from family members and from her myriad friends and colleagues in the world of theatre and film; press articles, etc relating to her stormy marriage to legendary actor Peter O'Toole; notebooks and diaries containing day-to-day schedules and personal reflections; and the copious preparatory material which went into the publication of her two-volume autobiography, Private Faces (1999) and Public Places (2001).

Material donated March 2023, which includes diaries, notebooks and press cuttings, have been amalgamated within the existing archive.

Appraisal, destruction and scheduling


System of arrangement

Items arranged chronologically where possible/appropriate.

Conditions of access and use area

Conditions governing access

Readers consulting modern papers in the National Library of Wales are required to abide by the conditions set out in information provided when applying for their Readers' Tickets, whereby the reader shall become responsible for compliance with the Data Protection Act 2018 and the General Data Protection Regulation 2018 in relation to any processing by them of personal data obtained from modern records held at the Library.

Conditions governing reproduction

Usual copyright laws apply.

Language of material

  • English

Script of material

Language and script notes

Physical characteristics and technical requirements

Finding aids

Allied materials area

Existence and location of originals

Existence and location of copies

Related units of description

Photographs relating to this archive are filed separately and may be accessed on request:

This Is Your Life Presentation Album:
Accession number: 993416204802419
Location: Photo book 6717 B

Black and white photographs:
Accession number: 993416202902419
Locations: Photo book 6718 B; photo book 6719 B; photo book 6720 B; photo book 6722 D; photo book 6724 B

Colour photographs
Accession number: 993416346702419
Location: Photo book 6723 B

Panoramic photographs:
Accession numbers: 993493501702419; 993493501802419
Location: Photo book 6773 X

Long-playing vinyl records, audio cassette tapes, video cassette tapes, compact discs (CDs) and digital video discs (DVDs) relating to this archive are filed separately and may be accessed on request.
Accession number: 994666197702419

Related descriptions

Notes area


Professionally known as Siân Phillips, the Welsh-speaking actress whose multi-media career now spans some seven decades was born Jane Elizabeth Ailwên Phillips in Gwaun-Cae-Gurwen, Glamorgan in 1933. She studied at University College, Cardiff and at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA), London., making her first appearance on a London stage in 1957 in Hermann Sudermann's Magda before going on to play the title rôle in Henrik Ibsen's Hedda Gabler that same year. Perhaps her best-known television rôle - that of Livia in the 1976 adaptation of Robert Graves' novel I, Claudius - won her a BAFTA TV Award. She was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in 2000 and a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE) in 2016 for her services to drama. Her tempestuous second marriage to actor Peter O'Toole produced two daughters, Kate (born 1960) and Patricia (born 1963). Following her divorce from O'Toole in 1979, she married actor Robin Sachs, whom she divorced in 1991. Siân Phillips has published two volumes of autobiography, Private Faces and Public Places, published in 1999 and 2001 respectively.


Stage and screen actor Peter O'Toole was born in Leeds in 1932 of Scottish and Irish parentage. Having appeared on stage since the 1950s, his first major screen debut was as the eponymous hero T. E. Lawrence in Lawrence of Arabia (1962), a rôle which launched his subsequent illustrious film career. His tempestuous marriage to Siân Phillips lasted twenty years, from 1959 to 1979, and produced two daughters, Kate (born 1960) and Patricia (born 1963). Due to recurrent ill-health, O'Toole retired from acting in 2012.


The English stage, screen and voice-over actor Robin Sachs (1951-2013) was born in London, the son of actors Leonard Sachs and Eleanor Summerfield, and studied at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA). In the early 1990s Sachs took up an offer from various US television shows and relocated to Los Angeles, where he would remain based for the remainder of his life. He subsequently appeared in Steven Spielberg's The Lost World: Jurassic Park (1997) and Steven Soderbergh's remake of Ocean's Eleven (2001) and was also known for his rôle as the sorcerer Ethan Rayne in the US TV series Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Sachs was married to Siân Phillips from 1979 to 1991.


Actress, film attachè and reviewer Kate O'Toole was born in Stratford-upon-Avon, the daughter of Siân Phillips and Peter O'Toole. She was appointed to the then Bord Scannán na hÉireann (Irish Film Board) (now Fís Éireann (Screen Ireland)) in 2013, and serves as Chair of the Galway Film Fleadh.


Patricia (Pat) O'Toole, daughter of Peter O'Toole and Siân Phillips, is a personal, business and development coach at Rose Bruford College of Theatre & Performance. She studied at the Arts Educational School at London's Barbican between 1984 and 1987 and made her London stage debut in 'The One Before The Last' at Offstage Downstairs fringe theatre in London's Chalk Farm.


Sally Phillips (née Thomas), mother of Sian Phillips, was born in Carmarthenshire in 1903 and worked as a schoolteacher prior to her marriage. Along with her husband David Phillips, father of Siân Phillips, she later took over the running of a further education centre in the Vale of Glamorgan.


Jessica Shayle O'Toole, actress, screenwriter, producer and director, is the daughter of Pat O'Toole and the granddaughter of Siân Phillips and Peter O'Toole.


Language note: Primary languages other than English are Welsh and French. There are also instances of Dutch, German, Icelandic, Irish, Italian, Norwegian, Spanish, Swedish and Yiddish. See under individual section headings.

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Rules and/or conventions used

Description follows NLW guidelines based on ISAD(G) 2nd ed.; AACR2; RDA NACO; and LCSH


Level of detail

Dates of creation revision deletion

September 2022. April 2023.




Dame Siân Phillips; $$b London; $$c Donation; $$d December 2019; May 2022; March 2023$e 991017438802419.

Archivist's note

Description compiled by Bethan Ifan. The following sources were used in the compilation of this description: primary and secondary sources within the archive; Siân Phillips: Private Faces: The Autobiography (Hodder & Stoughton, 1999); Siân Phillips: Public Places: The Autobiography (Hodder & Stoughton, 2001); online search engines. March 2022.
Description of March 2023 donation compiled by Bethan Ifan, April 2023.

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