Fonds A855 - Leontine Sagan Papers

Literary works by Victor Fleischer

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Leontine Sagan Papers


  • 1902 - 1973 (Creation)

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12 boxes

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Biographical history

Leontine Sagan was born in Budapest in 1890, child of Emma (nee Fasal, 1854-1940)and Isidore Schlesinger (1840-1909). She and her mother arrived in South Africa in 1899 from Vienna to join her father who had left Budapest in 1891 to seek his fortune in South Africa for the second time. The first occasion Isidore Schlesinger came to South Africa was in 1867 when he worked on the Eastern Transvaal goldfields but he had not stayed long in South Africa then.
In 1899 the Schlesinger family settled in Klerksdorp but on the outbreak of the Anglo-Boer War in 1899 they moved to Johannesburg, where Leontine attended the German School. In 1903 Leontine's mother took her back to Vienna to complete hr education, particularly in the fields of music and literature. They returned to South Africa in 1905, when Leontine trained as a shorthand typist and worked in the Hungarian consulate until 1911.
When Leontine returned to Europe, she auditioned for the Max Reinhardt School of Drama in Berlin and was accepted. During the first World War she remained in Austria and Germany, pursuing her acting career. Then she turned to producing plays and her first major production was "God's Chase11 at Frankfurt-on-Maine. This was a Jewish play, acted by Christians, but was well received. In 1931 she produced the film "Children in uniform", which she had already produced on stage. As a result of the favourable publicity this film received Leontine was invited by Alexander Korda to visit England and produce a film for him called "Men of tomorrow". For this film she auditioned future stars such Robert Donat, Emlyn Williams and Merle Oberon. The film was a failure but much more success­ full was her production of "Richard the Third11 for OUDS.
The advent of the Nazis caused Leontine to leave Germany. In 1933 she brought the stage version of "Children in uniform" to South Africa and in 1935 visited Hollywood at the invitation of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. The film she was to produce fell through and she returned to London to produce for Ivor Novello. Then followed the wonderfully successful musicals, "Glamorous night" , "Careless rapture", "Crest of the wave", "Ace of trumps" and "The dancing years". Ivor Novello said about her in the Sunday Chronicle "The intriguing Leontine Sagan whom I had chosen as producer was the first woman ever to produce at the Lane. (Drury Lane). I admire her tremendously. Her work in 'Children in uniform' and 'Finished abroad' and the OUDS production of 'Richard the Third' was magnificent" .
Just before the outbreak of the second World War Leontine returned to South Africa and for the first time produced amateurs, both at the Little Theatre in Cape Town and the Johannesburg Reps. During the second World War she produced Madeleine Masson's plays for war charities, with actresses such as Taubie Kushlick and Moira Lister. She also produced for the Krugersdorp Players and became a member of the Board of the National Theatre. As Taubie Kushlick said 11She turned up the wick of the South African theatrical lamp".
She married Victor Fleischer, publisher and writer. He was the author of Rienzo, the rise and fall of a dictator and of many novels and short stories in German . There were no children of the marriage. Victor Fleischer died in 1950 and Leontine Sagan in 1974.

Archival history

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

The Papers were received in September 1974 from Mrs Helga Kaye, Johannesburg, niece of Leontine Sagan and executor of her estate.

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Scope and content

The Papers comprise personal documents, correspondence, notes, plays, photographs, press clippings, manuscripts and an autobiography.
The most important subject covered is the theatre, in Germany, England and South Africa. There are also literary manuscripts belonging to Leontine Sagan's husband, Victor Fleischer. His most important work was Rienzo, the rise and fall of a dictator, published London, Aiglon, 1949, on Cola di Rienzo, 14th century dictator. The other manuscripts are of short stories and novels, in German.

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  • English
  • German

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Alternate title: Sagan, Leontine

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