Henry Sherek


Henry Sherek (1900–67), theatre producer; served in the Rifle Brigade in WW1. He produced over 100 plays in the West End of London, Paris and New York including TSE’s The Cocktail Party, The Confidential Clerk (Edinburgh Festival and London), and The Elder Statesman (Edinburgh Festival and London). E. Martin Browne, in The Making of T. S. Eliot’s Plays, 180–1, describes Sherek as ‘this very large, ebullient and powerful man … a real commercial showman … who, following in his father’s footsteps, had learned the hard way about every aspect of show-business. My wife and I asked them both to lunch for their first meeting, which was an occasion of acute embarrassment all round; but Eliot very soon came to appreciate Sherek, as I did, and delight in the size and warmth of his personality.’

TSE, who nominated Sherek for the Garrick Club, wrote in his supporting letter to Cmdr. E. S. Satterthwaite (Club Secretary), 21 Dec. 1960:

I met Mr Sherek first through Martin Browne, who submitted The Cocktail Party to Sherek and it naturally was a recommendation of Mr Sherek to me that he should immediately have wanted to put the play on even before he had the complete text in front of him. This was I think in 1948 or the beginning of ’49. Since then of course Mr Sherek has produced my two subsequent plays and I have got to know him in a familiar and friendly way. I believe that Mr Sherek’s father was himself in show business. I imagine that the family is of central European origin. He certainly knows the German language very well – indeed, I remember he was able to imitate the Viennese accent closely enough to persuade a Viennese friend of mine that he was Hungarian. He was educated abroad and I understand at St John’s College, Cambridge. I should not think that his professional qualifications needed emphasising by me since both his successes and failures in the theatrical world are always [sc. already] very clearly known. I have come in the time that I have known him to have a very warm and friendly feeling for him and know nothing against his character […] His appearance is somewhat surprising because of his size which I attribute to some glandular trouble as he could not always have been a man of such prodigious expanse of figure. He served during the war, and I understand from him that he was in Egypt under Montgomery.

TSE to Eleanor Hinkley, 26 Mar. 1950: ‘The theatre is a strange world, and impresarios the strangest people in it. What an alarming personality is Mr Gilbert Miller – to say nothing of Mr Henry Sherek.’