Special Collections & Archives

Reading Rayner Collection

Jack Reading: a chronology

Early life

  • 1916 - Born London 11th March
  • 1921-1927 - Attended Barrow Hill Road School
  • 1933-1937 - Attended St. Marylebone Grammar School, where he became a prefect & matriculated
  • 1933-1937 - University College, University of London where he gained an Honours Degree in English


1937-1939 - Employed by Charles J. Sawyer of Grafton Street, Antiquarian Booksellers. During this time he was also Assistant Editor of "The World of Art", and served on the Miners' Welfare Committee.

1940-1946 - Service in H.M. Armed Forces, first in Intelligence section, Infantry, and then in A.A. Defence- Radio-Location. He progressed through the ranks to Staff Sgt. and then gained a commission. He was demobbed as Subs. Captain.

1946-1981 - Returned to work in the mining industry on the Social Welfare side first with the Miners' Welfare Commission, later with the National Coal Board and the Coal Industry Social Welfare Organisation, being responsible for national activities such as brass band championships, amateur boxing, art and drama, paraplegic sports and invalid welfare.

Interest in the Theatre

During this same period, in a voluntary capacity, Jack Reading pursued an interest in the theatre and theatre history. He was a founder member of the Society for Theatre Research, one of its Joint Honorary Secretaries for a long period, then Chairman for 4 years, then one of the Vice Presidents.

Jack was also a founder member of the International Federation for Theatre Research and its Secretary General for 5 years. He  served as a permanent member on the Executive Committee responsible for membership. He performed similar duties for the sister organisation: The International Association of Libraries & Museums of Performing Arts.

Theatre Museum

1955 - Jack Reading was one of the prime movers in the campaign for the establishment of a Theatre Museum in the UK. He later became a trustee of the Theatre Museum Association.

Association with Kent

Jack Reading:

  • was a founder member of the Kent Costume Trust.
  • gave his entire library of theatre material to the Templeman Library, University of Kent at Canterbury, where it forms the Reading-Rayner Collection. He has also given other material of a non-theatrical nature to the Templeman Library.
  • was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Letters by the University of Kent in July 2000.


Jack Reading died August 2004; a great loss as a friend and benefactor to the University of Kent, and to the world of theatre scholarship.

Compiled by Sue Crabtree, Special Collections Librarian, 2004.

University of Kent - © University of Kent

The University of Kent, Canterbury, Kent, CT2 7NZ, T: +44 (0)1227 764000t the Library | Give Library feedback | Library Regulations

Last Updated: 02/02/2018