Theatre Royal Haymarket

Brian Selznick’s The Marvels takes inspiration from our beautiful, historic Theatre

Wednesday, September 9th, 2015

The Marvels

As one of the oldest theatres in London celebrating 300 years in 2020, the Theatre Royal Haymarket has stood on the same site since 1720. It was the first theatre in London to boast electric lights, a foyer, matinees and it hosted the world premieres of two of Oscar Wilde’s plays. parental guidance Its illustrious history is certainly something to marvel and it seems Brian Selznick, the Caldecott Medal–winning creator of The Invention of Hugo Cabret and Wonderstruck, agrees.

Brian’s breath-taking new novel, The Marvels is a magnificent reimagining of the form he originated, two stand-alone stories—the first in nearly 400 pages of stunning illustrations , the second in prose—together create a beguiling narrative puzzle. The fictional Royal Theatre in his book, including many of the backstage scenes, is closely modeled on the Haymarket.

The cracked yellow walls were lined with electric lights in wire cages, posters for old shows, and photographs of actors who had appeared in the theatre over the years…at the top of the stairs, they continued through another door, turned a corner, and found themselves backstage…miles of rope crisscrossed the space, running up toward the ceiling, turning on pulleys, and coming down the walls, where weights and other mechanisms held the rigging in place. It was like being aboard a ship, thought Joseph.

Speaking on the subject, Brian commented:

“Years ago, my friend Harry Lloyd, a brilliant young actor who has performed in the Haymarket, took me up into the rigging and first told me that it was 18th century sailors who came to London to help rig and build these theatres. That conversation led directly to my new book, The Marvels. Years later, while working on the book, I had the honour of meeting Arnold Crook, the Chairman  of the Theatre Royal Haymarket and I’ve since become friends with his daughter Kara McCullouch, the Development Director, and Cath Penney, the official Theatre Royal Haymarket Archivist and Historian.

We spent many hours in their incredible theatre, going through ancient papers (many of the Marvel family’s letters and documents are based on real documents from the Haymarket), and scuttling happily behind the scenes and through narrow dusty back stage halls. Mark Stradling the theatre manager was enormously helpful there as well. I’m so honoured to now be a small part of the Haymarket’s long illustrious history.”


TRH The Marvels

Theatre Royal Haymarket’s beautiful proscenium arch illustrated by Brian Selznick


We are very excited to be a part of this wonderful new tale and have no doubt it will prove to be yet another huge success.

Brian spent a month constructing a miniature theatre complete with a tiny paper ship and a little dragon with a bendable spine to feature in the trailer for his new novel. See the full trailer here

For more information on Brian or The Marvels, visit the website here. list of sites


Contact Us

Theatre Royal Haymarket 18 Suffolk Street London SW1Y 4HT


+44(0)20 7930 8800