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The Chalk Garden
Written by Enid Bagnold
Characters Mrs St Maugham
Miss Madrigal
Date premiered 26 October 1955
Original language English

The Chalk Garden is a play by Enid Bagnold that premiered in 1955 on Broadway. The play tells the story of Mrs. St Maugham and her granddaughter Laurel, a disturbed child under Miss Madrigal's care. 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 and was made into a film in 1964.

Production history

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.

A 2008 production was directed by Michael Grandage, with Margaret Tyzack, Penelope Wilton, and Felicity Jones, at the Donmar Warehouse, in London.


  1. ^ The chalk garden: A play (1984). ISBN 0573606897. p. 3.

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