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Audrey Wood:

An Inventory of Her Collection at the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center

Creator: Wood, Audrey, 1905-1985.
Title: Audrey Wood Papers
Dates: 1863, 1900-1984, n.d.
Extent: 60 boxes 16 oversize boxes 1 oversize folder 2 card files (32 linear feet)
Abstract: Correspondence, photographs, business and financial records, playscripts, appointment books, clippings, awards, theatrical memorabilia, and scrapbooks document the personal life and professional activities of literary representative Audrey Wood, her husband and business partner, William Liebling, and their clients, including Tennessee Williams.
RLIN Record #: TXRC01-A0
Access:

Open for research




Acquisition:

Purchase, 1994 (R13127)

Processed by:

Stephen Mielke, 2001; Laura Parker, 1995

Repository:

Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center, University of Texas at Austin


Audrey Wood was born February 28, 1905, in New York City to William Wood, a theatre manager, and Ida Gaubatz. Audrey grew up with constant exposure to the art and business of vaudeville and theatre through her father's work. She read and selected plays for her father while still in high school, briefly attended college, and then returned home to care for her mother after her father's death.

In 1927 she took a position as a script reader at the Century Play Company and eventually became head of the department. In 1937 she opened her own agency to represent playwrights and soon after formed a business partnership with William Liebling (1894-1969), a successful agent for actors and director. They married in 1938.

Constantly looking for talented new writers, Wood contacted Tennessee Williams in 1939 and offered her services as an agent. Wood helped guide and focus Williams' writing and under her care he created some of his greatest works, including The Glass Menagerie, A Streetcar Named Desire, and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof .

During the 1940s and early 1950s, the Liebling-Wood agency represented some of the top talent in the industry. In addition to Tennessee Williams, their client list included writers William Inge and Carson McCullers; actors Marlon Brando, Montgomery Clift, and Paul Newman; actresses Audrey Hepburn, Elizabeth Taylor, and Natalie Wood; and directors Elia Kazan and Joshua Logan.

In 1954 William Liebling retired and the Liebling-Wood agency was purchased by the Music Corporation of America (MCA), where Wood continued her work as an agent. In the mid 1960s she taught playwright workshops at several universities and later received an honorary PhD from Florida State University. Although her professional relationship with Tennessee Williams ended in the late 1960s, she continued to find and develop new writers such as Preston Jones and Arthur Kopit.

In 1981, after completing the manuscript for her autobiography, Wood suffered a stroke, leaving her in a coma that eventually led to her death in 1985.


Wood, Audrey. Represented by Audrey Wood Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday,1981.

Contemporary Authors -- Volume 118. Hal May, ed. Detroit: Gale Research Company, 1986.


Correspondence, photographs, business and financial records, playscripts, appointment books, clippings, awards, theatrical memorabilia, and scrapbooks document the personal life and professional activities of literary representative Audrey Wood, her husband and business partner, William Liebling, and their clients. The papers are organized into three series: I. Client Files, 1940-1982, n.d. (19 boxes), II. Subject Files, 1863, 1900-1984, n.d. (18 boxes, 15 oversize boxes, 1 oversize folder), and III. Financial, 1937-1981, n.d. (21 boxes).

The papers were previously housed at the Eugene O'Neill Memorial Theatre Centre in Waterford, Connecticut, and consist of personal files from Audrey Wood and William Liebling's New York and Connecticut residences, business files from the Liebling-Wood office dating 1937-1954, and files created during her employment from 1954 onwards at the Music Corporation of America (MCA), and its successor organizations Ashley-Steiner Agency and International Creative Management (ICM). The majority of papers are in English, with a small amount of foreign language materials relating mostly to foreign rights and productions of plays.

The earliest material, dating from the mid 1800s, consists of photographs and personal correspondence and records of Wood's family. Business records of her father's work as a theatre manager reflect Wood's early exposure to and interest in stage productions, and include clippings and photographs of late nineteenth and early twentieth century actors, actresses, and plays.

The bulk of the papers date from the late 1930s through the early 1980s. The largest concentration of material is located in the Subject Files Series and includes 10 boxes of photographs as well as numerous lobby cards and posters for various plays and motion pictures. Also in this series are family records, William Liebling's personal records, and the typescript draft of Audrey Wood's autobiography, written with Max Wilk.

Wood is best known for her long, sometimes strained, tenure as Tennessee Williams' agent. This relationship is well documented in the Client Files Series with large amounts of correspondence, both with Williams and with others, regarding his works. Also present are manuscript fragments, contracts, and box office statements for many of his productions, including The Glass Menagerie, A Streetcar Named Desire, and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. Other clients with significant materials in this series include Martha Gellhorn, Dorothy Heyward, and William Inge.

Woods' husband, William Liebling, also a well known agent, represented actors and directors. Records relating to his clients are found in the Client Files Series and in the Liebling-Wood Agency files in the Subject Files Series. His personal records and correspondence, including a large amount of correspondence with U.S. Senator Jacob Javits, are filed under Liebling in the Subject Files.

Incoming, outgoing, and third party correspondence found throughout the papers provide great insight into the activities of Wood, Liebling, and Williams. An index to all the letters received by these three is located at the end of this finding aid.


Correspondents

Beaumont, Hugh, 1908-1976.

Colton, Edward E.

Crawford, Cheryl.

Cronyn, Hume.

Feldman, Charles K. 1904-1968.

Gallantz, George G.

Gottlieb, Morton.

Hayes, Helen, 1900-.

Hazen, Joseph P.

Heyward, Dorothy, 1890-1961.

Inge, William.

Javits, Jacob K. (Jacob Koppel), 1904-1986

Kazan, Elia.

Laughlin, James.

Leavy, Morton L.

Liebling, William.

Logan, Joshua.

MacGregor, Robert.

Mielziner, Jo, 1901-.

Murray, Natalia Danesi.

Schmidt, Lars, 1917-.

Selznick, Irene Mayer, 1907-.

Singer, Louis J.

Smith, Lawrence.

Tajima, Hiroshi.

Wanamaker, Sam, 1919-.

Warburg, Fredric J.

Watson, Graham.

Williams, Cornelius Coffin.

Williams, Dakin.

Williams, Edwina Dakin.

Williams, William Carlos, 1883-1963.

Organizations

Curtis Brown, Ltd.

Dramatist Guild.

Dramatist Play Services (New York, N. Y.).

Subjects

American drama, 20th century.

Dramatists, American, 20th century.

Document Types

Address books.

Appointment books.

Autobiographies.

Biographies.

Bookkeeping records.

Business records.

Christmas cards.

Legal instruments.

Military records.

Photograph albums.

Photographs.

Playbills.

Postcards.

Scrapbooks.

Scripts.

Tintypes.