This collection contains notebooks, playscripts, television and film
scripts, miscellaneous notes, correspondence, articles, essays, theses,
programs, and reviews of the work of British playwright James Saunders. The
material spans his career from the late 1960s through the early 1990s.
According to the dealer, only a little early material survives, Saunders having
destroyed much ca. 1969 (with the exception of the holograph manuscript of
Next Time I'll Sing To You, which was given
to charity). Saunders is known for his contribution as an experimental
playwright, pushing the limits of traditional theater. His work and interest in
fringe theater characterize the latter part of his career.
The material is grouped in categories as received from the dealer with
some rearrangement to achieve alphabetical order within major sections. The
collection has been divided into the following series: Works, which are
subdivided by genre--manuscript notebooks, translations, articles, essays, and
theses by and about Saunders; Incoming Correspondence; Outgoing Correspondence;
and Printed material. Some published translations of Saunders' works received
with these papers were transferred to the HRHRC Library for cataloging. In
general, the material is in fine condition with the sole exception of an early
The Emperor's Waltz. Some sections were
heavily edited, using a cut and paste technique employing double-sided tape.
Care should be taken when using this version.
The majority of the collection is composed of just over 100 edited
typescripts of his plays, as well as adaptations and dramatizations of works of
authors including H.E. Bates, A.E. Coppard, Alexander Dumas, David Garnett,
Graham Greene, Ronald Harwood, Vaclav Havel, Patricia Highsmith, Henry James,
D. H. Lawrence, Olivia Manning, Iris Murdoch, Somerset Maugham, and Thomas Love
Peacock. Many of Saunders' plays appear in several versions, with a few
translated into French and German. Also included are his award winning plays
Next Time I'll Sing to You,
Saunders' 18 manuscript notebooks defy chronology or even full content
description due to the way in which he penned the entries. Rather than
employing the usual linear front-to-back approach, Saunders chose to enter
different works beginning at both ends of the notebook with additional material
interspersed throughout. Generally, these notebooks contain fragments, notes,
character sketches, and drafts for his plays dating from 1959-1983.
Arranged in date order, the incoming correspondence reflects a wide
range of correspondents including Saunders' agent, Margaret Ramsay (who
described him as the first person she represented), Ramsay's assistants, plus
numerous producers and others at the B.B.C., publishers, translators, theater
administrators, directors, actors, critics, fellow playwrights, and students
seeking Saunders' perspective on his work. In addition, there is a substantial
amount of outgoing correspondence, also arranged by date. Featured in this
material are Ed Berman, John Bratby, Michael Caine, Penelope Fitzgerald, Peter
Hall, Christopher Hampton, David Hare, Vaclav Havel, Suzanne Lombard, Charles
Marowitz, John Mortimer, Iris Murdoch, V.S. Pritchett, Vanessa Redgrave, Robin
Skelton, Hilde Spiel, and Tom Stoppard.
Adding perspective to Saunders' work, there is substantial documentation
of his career in programs, handbills, and announcements of his plays produced
worldwide, dating from 1960-1992. In addition there exists a large collection
of reviews from newspapers and periodical literature including quantities of
material from continental Europe. Also included are twenty short essays and
introspective articles by Saunders, as well as several German and Italian
theses on his work.