Guide: Gifts for Gallery Goers, Book Lovers and Theatre Types

I basically just compiled a massive list of things I want people to give me. Heh, heh. But I hope it’s also helpful in your hunt for the perfect gift.

Daunt Books Subscription


The dreamiest gift in the world for the book lovers in your life. Since 2010, Daunt Books have been running a very successful publishing company alongside their famous book shops. A scroll though the beautiful cover images on their website is temptation enough for anyone remotely bookish to quake at. Plus you’ll get to feel good by supporting a small publisher.

As a subscriber of either 4 books (£40) or 7 books (£70) with free UK P&P you’ll receive a book of your choice from their backlist, sent out as soon as you subscribe, and ‘other surprises throughout the year.’

I really want to know what the surprises are. Head over to Daunt Books Publishing to buy.

Alternatives: The Willoughby Book Club, £104.99 for 12 books. Heywood Hill, £200 for 12 paperbacks. Persephone Books, £120 for 12 books plus postage.

A Year in Books from Heywood Hill.

Royal Academy Membershippack-2015-sm

Young Friends, for 16-25 years olds, is £45 a year. I know, I was surprised to! It’s a generous gift but affordable for family, partners and extra special friends. Standard membership is £97 a year… so quite a bit more of a hefty price.

Give the gift of RA membership.

Alternatives: Tate Membership from £70. National Gallery Membership from £60. National Portrait Gallery Membership from £50. V&A Membership from £64, £35 for U26s. ICA Membership £30 or £10 concessions including U26.

Tate membership gives you access to all four galleries. Photo: NB Studio.

Theatre Memberships

National Theatre Memberships come with their flagship magazine.

Mostly, theatre memberships just get you a glorified queue jump. This can be useful for booking the cheaper tickets without restricted views and shows with big names that are likely to sell out quickly. In most cases, though, theatre memberships are worth a lot less than ones to the big galleries and museums. You don’t really get anything for free.

However, they are a brilliant gift if you know a theatre they love and go to all the time. Then the membership is probably worth it.

Options: To become a Royal Court Friend is £35. That gets you priority booking, free ticket exchanges, 10% off drinks and food, and slighter speedier emails. Friends of the Young Vic, for £35 also, get advanced booking, the season brochure delivered and 20% off on 3 or more plays. National Theatre Membership starts at £80. It has priority booking, 50% off NT Platform talks, season brochures, and 3 copies of the NT Magazine.

Royal Court Surprise Playtextsroyal court play text bundle

Can’t choose what to buy someone but know they love theatre and like reading? Let the Royal Court choose the present for you. Get five play texts for £10 in a surprise bundle. UK postage only.

Buy from the Royal Court Online Shop.

Alternatives: £25 for a Bush Theatre Script Subscription for 4 play texts and a copy of Close Up Magic (Bush History).

Curtain Call

My Night With Reg, Apollo Theatre. Photo: Matt Humphrey.

The coffee table book of all coffee table books for thespians. Delve backstage with photographer Matt Humphrey and actor John Schwab to see a vivid record of an extraordinary year in London theatre.

With unparalleled access to almost sixty productions, this book is a journey behind the scenes to show theatre as its never been seen before. Humphrey takes striking reportage-style photos and Schwab delivers revealing, insightful interviews.

Available to purchase from the National Theatre Bookshop.

Culture Whisper Membership

Bespoke cultural planning from Culture Whisper.

Get tailored cultural recommendations delivered straight to their inbox and a surprise free ticket to something spectacular every month. Pin your to-do list. Also includes exclusive discounts and invitations to events. It’s £65 for a year.

More on the Culture Whisper website.

3 Great Books about Theatre History

101 Greatest Plays: From Antiquity to the Present, Michael Billington

  • The Guardian critic uses his almost encyclopedic knowledge of the stage to conduct an expansive review of the history of theatre. Not without its controversies.

Played in Britain: Modern Theatre in 100 Plays (Plays and Playwrights), Kate Dorney and Frances Gray

  • Explore post-war theatre from An Inspector Calls to Posh. Published by Bloomsbury in collaboration with the V&A. Beautifully illustrated throughout.

100 Great Plays for Women, Lucy Kerbel

  • An inspiring guide, rather than strictly a history, of great plays that put female performers centre stage. Available from Nick Hern Books.

Digital Theatre Gift Certificate


Beautiful theatre recorded for seasons to come. Also makes UK theatre accessible to the wider world, so the perfect gift for friends abroad. Available up to £100 from Digital Theatre.

Art Fund National Art Pass

05A small card for big experiences. The Art Pass gives you free entry to over 240 museums, galleries and historic houses across the UK as well as 50% off entry to major exhibitions. From £62.

paulaschertote_9.jpgNational Theate Tote Bag

Because you can never have too many totes and this one, as the website describes, has a shocking pink lining.

Get it from the NT Bookshop.

Theatre, Opera and Ballet DVD Boxsets

63196-king-country-boxset-dvd-2016-normalThe only type of boxset you can’t get on Netflix or Prime. An endangered species and therefore fairly expensive to get your hands on. Your three prime suspects are the RSC, the Royal Opera House and the Globe.

Personal favourites would include the RSC’s King & Country Boxset (which includes David Tennant’s Richard II), the Globe’s Kings & Rogues which has the belly-laugh inducing Henry IVs, and the Carlos Acosta Collection from the Royal Ballet.


I hope you enjoyed reading! What’s the best artistic and thoughtful gift you’ve ever received? Share in the comments.