Brotherton Bursary Award

Brotherton Bursary Award

The School of Music, University of Leeds, is pleased to announce a Brotherton Bursary competition for PhD applicants wishing to work on the Herbert Thompson or Moody Collections in the Brotherton Library. One bursary of £1000 will be awarded, which will be offset against the first year’s fees for students beginning their studies in October 2018.

Subject Area

Candidates should express their intention to work on EITHER:

(a) The Herbert Thompson Collection

Herbert Thompson (1856-1945), born in Leeds, benefited from a private education, partly at Wiesbaden in Germany, and at St John’s College, Cambridge, where he graduated in 1878 and later took the degree of LL.M. in 1881. After a career in law his deep interest in music drew him back to Leeds to accept the offer of a position with the Yorkshire Post as music and art critic in 1886. In 1897 he married Edith Mary Sparks, daughter of the honorary secretary of the Leeds Musical Festival. He also became the Yorkshire correspondent of the Musical Times. His writings included a study of Wagner in 1927 and contributions to Grove’s Dictionary of Music and Musicians. He was awarded an honorary Litt.D. by the University of Leeds in 1924, and retired from the Yorkshire Post in 1936.

The archive includes Thompson’s diaries, cuttings books (32 volumes of art and music criticism, compiled by Thompson himself), opera and concert programmes (relating primarily to performances that Thompson attended, whether privately or in his capacity as music critic; many of these are annotated), his 29-page manuscript autobiography, an album of correspondence (381 items, mainly from composers and musicians, with an envelope of press-cuttings, and a photograph of Elgar), a collection of cards and photographs (comprising 94 cabinet cards, dated ca. 1860-1903; 13 postcards; 6 cartes de visite; 4 photographs; 2 mounted engravings/photographs; one playbill), and Thompson’s annotated scores.


(b) The Moody Collection.  

John Percivale Moody (1906-1993) was an opera and theatre producer, actor and translator. Nell Moody, née Burra, (1909-1999) worked as a singing teacher, opera singer and translator of opera. After working at a publishing company for two years, he left to become a painter. Painting did not bring in much income and in 1930 Moody won a scholarship to the Webber-Douglas School of Singing where he met the opera singer Helen ‘Nella’ Burra. Moody was also an accomplished actor and made his debut at the Lyric, Hammersmith in ‘Derby Day’ in 1931. Burra and Moody married in 1937 shortly after the death of her twin brother Peter Burra (1909-1937). In 1940 Moody became Principal of the Old Vic Theatre School where he stayed until 1942, when he was appointed as producer to the Old Vic Company in Liverpool. The Carl Rosa Opera Company approached him to produce ‘La Tosca’ in 1945. This was the start of Moody’s career in opera. In 1949 he became drama director of the Arts Council and was subsequently the director of Bristol Old Vic. In 1959 he was appointed Director of Productions at Welsh National Opera. He and Nell collaborated to create English language libretti for operas including May Night (Rimsky-Korsakov) Prince Igor (Borodin) and The Pearl Fishers (Bizet). Moody resigned from the WNO in 1969 to concentrate on his painting. Phillada Sewell (1910-1998) was born in Bushey, Hertfordshire. She was a character actress and soprano who first broadcast on radio in 1937. She appeared in A Room with a View (1985) and Maurice (1987). Her mother, Margaret Ley, was a younger sister of John Moody’s mother, Louisa. Thus making John Moody and Phillada Sewell cousins.

The collection includes personal papers, diaries and photographs belonging to John Moody and Nell Moody, née Burra. The opera production scores annotated by John Moody are of particular interest. The collection contains newspaper cuttings about Phillada Sewell and the Moodys. It also encompasses some of Dr Richard Thompson’s research papers on the Moodys. There are opera scores and books that were owned by them. The collection includes personal papers and diaries belonging to the actress Phillada Sewell who was a cousin to John Moody.

Appointments can be made to look at this material briefly in advance of applications; please contact Rhiannon Lawrence-Francis ( for the Thompson collection, and Karen Sayers ( for the Moody collection.


The student’s primary supervisors will be Professor Michael Allis (the Herbert Thompson archive) and Dr Bryan White (the Moody archive), with each acting as secondary supervisor for the other project. 

Research Environment

The successful candidate will join a thriving community of around 50 music research students and will benefit from all the support offered to research students in the School of Music, as well as opportunities to take training and development courses for postgraduate researchers. The student will have access to a working area in the School of Music’s Postgraduate Students’ Research Studio, and will have opportunities to contribute to and participate in research seminars, conferences and study days run by the School.


Applicants must have a good first degree in an appropriate subject, preferably Music, and normally a Master’s degree or other professional experience relevant to the scope of the project. They should also have experience of working with primary source materials. Applications for full-time or part-time study will be considered, and should be made via the University’s online application system at

A research proposal (up to 3000 words, including bibliography) must be submitted that outlines the aims, scope, and research questions of the proposed study, clearly identifies how the primary source materials are to be contextualised and approached, and includes a proposed structure and bibliography. Applications should confirm that they relate to the ‘Brotherton Bursary’ competition. For informal enquiries, please contact Professor Michael Allis (Herbert Thompson collection), e.mail:, or Dr Bryan White (Moody collection), e.mail Questions regarding the application process should be addressed to the Postgraduate Research Student Administrator, Linda Watson, email: