Obituary: Harold Gosling

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The Independent Online
Harold Gosling, theatre manager and producer, born 19 December 1897, died Northwood Middlesex 22 August 1992.

HAROLD GOSLING was for nearly 30 years the General Manager and Licensee of the Globe and Queen's theatres in London.

After serving in the army towards the end of the First World War Gosling was drawn to the theatre, but never as an actor. He became secretary to Oscar Asche and Lily Brayton during the long run of Chu Chin Chow at His Majesty's Theatre.

For several years he was business manager for the all-powerful Daniel Meyer company at many West End theatres and on tour in Africa and India. JB Fagan, the brilliant Irish playwright and producer, established notable seasons at the Oxford Playhouse, in the West End and the US with Gosling as his manager. One of the stars was Yvonne Arnaud who became a lifelong friend, as did Emlyn Williams, making his first professional appearance, and John Gielgud. Gosling was manager for Maurice Browne with Journey's End and many other famous productions including Gielgud's young Hamlet at the Queen's Theatre in 1930.

Whitney Straight, the American entrepreneur, ran his English operations from Dartington Hall in Devon, with Gosling in London, running the Globe and Queen's theatres from 1932 until 1959. Gosling was one of the original directors of HM Tennent Ltd operating from the Globe Theatre offices.

Artistically the apex of Gosling's career was as Manager of John Gielgud's great season at the Queen's in 1937 and 1938, for which Emlyn Williams wrote the opening play and which ended with Michel St Denis's unforgettable production of The Three Sisters. The star-studded cast included Peggy Ashcroft, Gwen Ffrangcon-Davies, Angela Baddeley, Michael Redgrave, George Devine, the young Alec Guinness and his wife to be, Merula Salaman, and of course Gielgud as Vershinin. All designs for the four plays were by Motley.

Partnered by Stanley Hale at the Globe, Gosling presented Accent on Youth by Samson Raphaelson with Greer Garson in one of her earliest West End appearances. Then they put on Rosamond Lehmann's only play, No More Music, at the Duke of York Theatre.

This straightforward, unflattering, strong but gentle man enjoyed travel and years of entertaining among his books and pictures in retirement in Kensington before settling finally at Denville Hall, the actors' retirement home.

From the 1930s onwards, his companion, legal adviser and great friend was Barclay Popkiss and for many years they were first- nighters in front-row dress circle seats. Gosling's great strengths as a manager were his honesty, discretion, outspoken directness and fair-minded kindness. Qualities not always found linked in real life nor in the theatre world.