Vivien Leigh
Marriage to Herbert Leigh Holman

Vivien Leigh in a big green dress.

First eye contact

When during one particularly strong winter Gertrude, Ernest and their child Vivien decided to seek better weather in West Country, Viv started hanging out a lot with Hilary Martin.

The two had known each other for a while because their fathers were business partners, but only then they became very close.

During one of their walks through the town, Vivien noticed an older man walking by and the man also noticed her. Mesmerized by him, she asked Martin if she knew him. The girl replied with a 'yes', but that was about it for now.

First talk

In 1931, Vivien attended the South Devon Hunt Ball on Torquay Pier. There, Herbert Leigh Holman approached her and they talked for the first time.

During the conversation, he admitted to being somewhat of a stalker - after that initial contact on the street, he wanted to meet her, and so when he found out that she will be attending the ball, he decided to go too.

He was living in London, just like Viv's parents, so he suggested that when she comes back to them, perhaps they could meet again. Viv agreed.


One thing led to another and soon they were a full-fledged couple. That didn't sit well with her mother Gertrude, for he was 32 while her daughter only 19! With time, she slowly had to learn to accept Vivien's decision, which didn't seem easy for her.

When the moment came, Herbert proposed to her with a beautiful ring with green stone in it, bought in Mappin & Webb for 35 pounds. Perhaps as a passive way to show discontent, Gertrude conplained that green color is bad luck and they need to take it back.

The couple soon replaced it with another, this time with a diamond attached.


When it comes to building a connection with Vivien, Herbert was a sprinter. Right from their first date, he was eager to show her that his intentions are serious.

Always pushing for their relationship to reach the next level, it is no surprise that he proposed and got married so quickly.

It happened on December 20, 1932 at a unique and beautiful St. James’s, Spanish Place church. In contrast to how extravagant she could dress sometimes, this time the bride was wearing a plain white satin gown.

Inside, she was equally humble and also terrifyingly stressed out about the whole thing, which many guests picked up on quickly. In the end though, there was nothing to worry about - everything went well.


The couple spent most of their honeymoon in a small and beautiful Austrian ski resort town of Kitzbühel, where they could marvel at beautiful landscape and enjoy each other's company uninterrupted.

They left it to go to Bad Reichenhall and present her new trophy-husband to her former school's principal, with which she had been on good terms.

Next on the list was Munich, Leipzig and Dresden. In all three Vivien had friends whom she wanted to meet and celebrate with.

Pregnancy and birth

Very soon, Vivien Holman got pregnant. When that happened, the married couple moved to 6 Little Stanhope Street in Shepherd Market. The apartment was especially attractive to Vivien, because cult British actress Lynn Fontanne used to live there.

On October 10, 1933 she gave birth to their only child, Suzanne.


Since Viv first came in contact with Laurence Olivier, she became obsessed with him. From their first meeting, the attraction became mutual and soon one of Hollywood's most famous couples came into being.

At first, Holman knew nothing about it, but with time it became harder not to notice. Even when he did, he was sure it's a temporary attraction similar to the ones teenage fans have for their pop idols. Unfortunately for Holman, this one would outlast his marriage.

The new couple decided to ask for divorce at the same time, but in both cases their propositions were met with disapproval.

After some time, they managed to get a 'yes' though and the road was free.

Vivien Leigh and Herbert Leigh Holman were married for 8 years.

Relationship between them

Getting married at the age of 19 is always a risk. After all, priorities of a nineteen year old girl can be drastically different than the ones of a mature woman. At the time, such young marriages were very common, but the bigger problem seemed to be the generation gap between the two.

What Herbert managed to bring to the table was his maturity and social standing. As a successful barrister-at-law, he had a charm that men of Vivien's age don't have yet. He provided a stable and safe environment. Despite being a somewhat shy person, he made her feel safe in his arms.

They were both happy, but the relationship lacked a spark of attraction and lust for each other. As things were, Herbert was more of a father figure than an actual husband.

Getting together with Olivier was as impulsive as marrying Holman, but this time it was her that chased. Seeing how aggressively she hunted him down shows her hunger for what was completely missing from the future actress' first marriage.