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University of Texas at Austin

David Hare:

An Inventory of His Papers at the Harry Ransom Center

Creator Hare, David, 1947-
Title David Hare Papers
Dates: 1968-1993
Extent: 37 boxes (15.42 linear feet), 1 oversize folder
Abstract: These papers consist of typescript drafts, notes, rehearsal scripts, schedules, production notes, correspondence, theatre programs, resumes, photographs, and published texts associated with Hare's plays, teleplays, screenplays, and essays, as well as foreign-language translations of Hare's works; works by other authors; personal correspondence; minutes of meetings; and Hare's English papers from Cambridge University.
Call Number: Manuscript Collection MS-01834
Language: English.
Access Open for research

Administrative Information

Acquisition Purchase, 1993
Processed by Katherine Mosley and Joan Sibley, 1995

Harry Ransom Center, The University of Texas at Austin

Biographical Sketch

British playwright David Hare was born June 5, 1947, in St. Leonards, Sussex, England, the son of Clifford and Agnes Gilmour Hare. Clifford Hare was a sailor, and when David was five, the family moved to Bexhill-on-Sea, also in Sussex. Hare attended Lancing College and then went on to Jesus College, Cambridge, in order to study with famed Marxist Raymond Williams. After graduating from Cambridge in 1968 with an honors M.A. in English, Hare briefly worked for the film company A. B. Pathé before co-founding the Portable Theatre Company with Tony Bicât. Portable Theatre, a touring experimental theatre group, became a leader in the fringe theatre movement. Hare wrote his first plays for Portable Theatre and served as its director from 1968-71. He also served as literary manager of the Royal Court Theatre from 1969-70 and as its resident dramatist from 1970-71.
Hare's first major play, Slag (1970), won him the Evening Standard Drama Award for most promising new playwright. Like Slag, The Great Exhibition (1972) viewed the failure of contemporary English society to change or accomplish anything. In 1972, Portable Theatre and its subsidiary, Shoot, declared bankruptcy, and Hare became resident dramatist at Nottingham Playhouse. Brassneck, which Hare wrote with Howard Brenton, was produced there that same year. At about the same time, Hare co-founded the Joint Stock Theatre Group with David Aukin and Max Stafford-Clark, and he served as director there from 1975-80. Knuckle (1974), the first of Hare's plays to be produced in London's West End, received the John Llewellyn Rhys Memorial Award; Hare was the first dramatist to win the award. Hare's first plays had established the primacy of social and political issues in his work, but with Knuckle, he shifted from contemporary satire toward what he calls his “history” plays. Hare's plays usually present a romantic relationship between members of the middle class and use the decline and corruption of the characters' careers, relationships, and idealism to reflect historical events.
In Fanshen (1975), based on the book by William Hinton, Hare looked at the process of revolution. As a Joint Stock production, Fanshen was a collective effort in which actors collaborated with the writer, improvising and discussing the text at workshops and rehearsals. With Teeth 'n' Smiles (1975), Hare returned to an examination of the state of post-World War II English society, which he sees as dominated by dishonesty and corruption. A collaboration with Nick and Tony Bicât, it was Hare's only play to premiere at the Royal Court Theatre. Plenty, considered Hare's best play, was produced in 1978 and was Hare's first original play at the National Theatre. The play, about a woman who served in the French Resistance during World War II but finds only disillusionment in post-war Britain, shows the inability of people to effect change. A Map of the World (1983) expands to a global perspective and uses the device of a play within a play; by this time, Hare had become more interested in style and form. Pravda (1985), co-written with Howard Brenton, is a scathing attack on the press. In The Secret Rapture, a Margaret Thatcher-like M.P. takes advantage of her sister's goodness, with tragic consequences. A trilogy on institutions, Racing Demon (1990), Murmuring Judges (1991), and Absence of War (1993), looks at religion, the legal system, and political parties. Hare's most recent play, Skylight (1995), is less directly political, focusing on the failed relationship between two former lovers who meet again.
In addition to directing his own plays, Hare has directed such works as The Pleasure Principle (1973) by Snoo Wilson, The Party (1974) by Trevor Griffiths, Weapons of Happiness (1976) by Howard Brenton, and Devil's Island (1977) by Tony Bicât. Hare also directed a production of King Lear at the National Theatre in 1986, with Anthony Hopkins starring as Lear. Hare became associate director at the National Theatre in 1984 and has also been a member of the council of the English Stage Company.
Like many British playwrights, Hare has written teleplays for the BBC. Licking Hitler (1978) uses a World War II setting to examine the pervasiveness of lies in English culture. As in other Hare works, in Dreams of Leaving (1980) the main characters' loss of idealism leads to despair and madness. Saigon: The Year of the Cat (1983), directed by Stephen Frears, is about the Vietnam War and again juxtaposes personal lives with historical events. Heading Home is about a woman looking back at choices she made that led to her sense of loneliness.
Hare has written several screenplays and even founded a film company, Greenpoint Films, in 1982. Among screenplays by Hare are Plenty (1985), Wetherby (1985), Strapless (1989), Paris by Night (1989), and Damage (1992). Wetherby, about repressed passions among members of the middle class, won the Golden Bear award at the Berlin Film Festival.
Hare married theatrical agent Margaret Mathieson in 1970; they had three children, Joe, Darcy, and Lewis, before divorcing in 1980. Hare married designer Nicole Farhi in December 1992.
David Hare's papers were acquired by the HRHRC in 1993. Additional materials are expected for the collection, and they will be described separately.
More information about David Hare and his work may be found in his autobiographical Writing Left Handed (London: Faber and Faber, 1991), David Hare by Joan FitzPatrick Dean (Boston: Twayne Publishers, 1990), and The Plays of David Hare by Carol Homden (Cambridge University Press, 1995).

Scope and Contents

The David Hare papers consist of typescript drafts (many with holograph revisions), notes, lists, rehearsal scripts, schedules, production notes, correspondence, theatre programs, a poster, clippings and articles, brochures, resumes, photographs, page proofs, and published texts associated with Hare's plays, teleplays, screenplays, and essays, as well as foreign-language translations of Hare's works; works by other authors; personal correspondence; minutes of meetings; and Hare's English papers from Cambridge University, all ranging in date from 1968 to 1993. The material is organized in six series: Works by Hare (1970-92, nd, 27.5 boxes); Collaborations (1971-87, 1.5 boxes); Directing Activities (1969-86, nd, 1 box); Theatre Group Activities (1965, 1971-88, nd,.5 box); Career and Personal (1968-92, nd, 4 boxes); and Works by Others (1993, nd,.5 box).
All of David Hare's stage plays, teleplays, and screenplays from the beginning of his career through 1991 are represented in some form and, along with articles, essays, lectures, and some unpublished works, comprise the largest series. Multiple drafts; rehearsal scripts; notes and dialog fragments; rejected scenes; production material, including casting and rehearsal notes, rehearsal calls, schedules, memos, financial information, and programs; foreign language translations by other authors, and versions of published texts are all present. Among Hare's major stage plays are Slag, The Great Exhibition, Knuckle, Fanshen, Teeth 'n' Smiles, Plenty, A Map of the World, The Secret Rapture, Racing Demon,and Murmuring Judges. Noteworthy manuscripts from these works include notes from Fanshen workshops, improvisations, and collaborative rehearsals; Plenty production material, such as expense estimates, schedules, and set design notes and drawings; and rejected scenes, rehearsal notes, and costume, plot, and prop lists from The Secret Rapture. Among unpublished works present are "What Happened to Blake,""Deathsheads," and "The Madman Theory of Deterrence." Hare's best known teleplays include Man above Men, Licking Hitler, Dreams of Leaving, Saigon: Year of the Cat, and Heading Home. Among unproduced teleplays are "The Bloody Workers,""In Your Eye,""It's Good to Know,""Mandrax," and "Shop!" In addition, Hare's screenplays of Damage, Plenty, The Secret Rapture, Strapless, and Wetherby are represented in the collection. Typescripts of Hare's collection of autobiographical essays, Writing Left-Handed, are also included, as are essays, lectures, and reviews by Hare.
The files also document Hare's involvement with fringe theatres such as the Portable Theatre Co. and Joint Stock Theatre Group, as well as his later associations with the Royal Court Theatre and the Royal National Theatre. Hare was a founder of Portable Theatre, and relating to that venture are materials from the production of England's Ireland, including notes and letters documenting efforts to arrange a tour schedule, and papers relating to the theatre's financial collapse in 1973. Hare also was a founder of the Joint Stock Theatre Group, and its collaborative workshop approach to writing and producing plays can be seen in his Fanshen notebook and notes. In addition, minutes of board meetings, applications for financial assistance, and correspondence from Joint Stock are present. Royal Court Theatre materials include applications for the post of artistic director and related correspondence dating from 1988. Also, notes of English Stage Company council meetings and schedules of Royal Court productions sent to Hare by general manager Graham Cowley may be found with the general correspondence.
While correspondence is scattered throughout the collection, most of it is gathered in the Career and Personal Series. The correspondence is a strength of the collection, and letters, notes, cards, postcards, and telegrams from friends, relatives, colleagues, actors and actresses, other directors, a variety of theatre companies, and theatrical, political and academic organizations may be found. Topics include business matters, Hare's social and political concerns, and personal matters. Noteworthy correspondents include Hare's agent Margaret "Peggy" Ramsay; his editor Frank Pike at Faber and Faber; his accountants at Midgley, Snelling, and Co.; directors Max Stafford-Clark and William Gaskill; actress Kate Nelligan; and playwrights Trevor Griffiths, John Osborne, and Michael Weller. Some letters are accompanied by clippings, photographs, or brochures. A complete index of correspondents in the Hare collection is located at the end of this inventory. Most of the correspondence is incoming; the few copies of Hare's letters to other people are indicated in parentheses in the index. Other career and personal materials include theatre programs, a file documenting some of Hare's censorship concerns, and school papers from Cambridge University.
Hare has been called a political playwright, and his social and political concerns are reflected throughout the collection. For example, Hare served on the Board of Trustees of Jarrow 86 Trust Ltd., which campaigned against high unemployment levels; letters regarding its financial difficulties were sent to Hare by Simon Osborn. Indications of Hare's political leanings are found in the minutes of the June 20 Group, essays on Thatcher and the political right, and correspondence with organizations such as the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants, Justice, the Nicaragua Solidarity Campaign, and the Index of Censorship. A folder Hare labeled "Polemic" contains notes and drafts giving his views on the theatre, actors' agents, television drama, the Arts Council, and other subjects.
Although Hare's career began as official censorship of plays in Britain ended in 1968, he has always been concerned with the issues of censorship and the power of the press in its choice of what to publish. He regarded the unwillingness of theatres to present England's Ireland as a form of censorship. Bill Webb of The Guardian asked Hare to write an introduction to its Bedside Guardian in 1986, and Hare sent a piece criticising not only the press in general, but also The Guardian itself; it was not published. A negative review by New York Times critic Frank Rich resulted in the closure of the New York production of The Secret Rapture and generated an argument between Rich and Hare about Rich's power. Hare also exchanged heated correspondence with critic Irving Wardle over A Map of the World. In a "Censorship" folder, Hare filed correspondence with the BBC about its banning Roy Minton's play Scum and Ian McEwen's play Solid Geometry. The "Censorship" file also contains letters from a solicitor analyzing possible libel danger in republishing Hare's "Ah Mischief: The Role of Public Broadcasting" article, originally written for The Guardian, as well as Hare's notes for a debate with Mary Whitehouse about censorship.
Hare has collaborated on various works with Nick Bicât, Tony Bicât, Howard Brenton, David Edgar, and Snoo Wilson, among others. Notable collaborations represented in the collection include Brassneck and Pravda, both cowritten with Howard Brenton, England's Ireland, which was written with six other playwrights, and The Knife, with Nick Bicât and Tim Rose-Price.
As a director, Hare has directed not only productions of his own plays, but also plays by Tony Bicât, Howard Brenton, Trevor Griffiths, Christopher Hampton, and Snoo Wilson. Typescripts, correspondence, and production material from these are contained in the collection.
Within the Works by Others series are two screenplays, Skin Flicker by Howard Brenton and The Serpent's Kiss by Tim Rose-Price, a playscript of Castle of the Sea by Colin Haydn Evans, and The Fever, a performance piece by Wallace Shawn.
Other manuscripts relating to Hare at the HRHRC may be found in the London Review of Books (correspondence 1979-81), James Saunders, and Tom Stoppard collections.

Series Descriptions

Index Terms


Ashcroft, Peggy, Dame
Aukin, David
Ayckbourn, Alan, 1939-
Bachmann, Lawrence P.
Bicât, Tony
Boddington, Diana
Bond, Edward
Brenton, Howard, 1942-
Bridges, Alan
Callow, Simon, 1949-
Campbell, Nell
Chruchill, Caryl
Dench, Judi
Downie, Penny
Edgar, David
Eszterhas, Joe
Eyre, Richard, 1943-
Farhi, Nicole
Frayn, Michael
Gadney, Reg, 1941-
Gaskill, William
Gordon, Heather
Griffiths, Trevor
Hall, Peter, Sir, 1930-
Hampton, Christopher, 1946-
Hart, Josephine
Hinton, William
Howe, Tina
King, Kimball
Le Carré, Jone, 1931-
MacDonald, Sharman
Matheson, Margaret
Millar, Kenneth, 1915-
Mortimer, John Clifford, 1923-
Nelligan, Kate
Nichols, Peter, 1927-
Osborne, John, 1929-
Papp, Joseph
Parker, Ellen
Pike, Frank
Pinter, Harold, 1930-
Plater, Alan, 1935-
Pollock, Patsy
Rampling, Charlotte
Ramsay, Margaret
Rich, Frank
Rose-Price, Tim
Roth, Phillip
Rushdie, Salman
Seth, Roshan
Shawn, Wallace
Smith, Richard M.
Snepp, Frank
Spender, Stephen, 1909-
Stoppard, Tom
Trojanowski, Anna
Wardle, Irving, 1929-
Weller, Michael, 1942-
Wilson, Caroline
Wilson, Snoo, 1948-


British Broadcasting Corporation
Channel Four (Great Britain)
Faber and Faber
Grennpoint Films Ltd.
The Guardian
Joint Stock Theatre Group
Margaret Ramsey Ltd.
Midgley, Snelling & Co.
Miramax Films
National Theatre (Great Britain)
New York Shakespeare Festival
Royal Court Theatre


Authors, English
Authors and publishers
Experimental theater--Great Britain
Literary agents
Theater critics
Theater--Production and direction

Document Types

First drafts
Love letters
Theater programs

David Hare Papers--Folder List