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Tom Stoppard:

An Inventory of His Papers at the Harry Ransom Center

Creator: Stoppard, Tom
Title: Tom Stoppard Papers 1939-2000 (bulk 1970-2000)
Dates: 1939-2000 (bulk 1970-2000)
Extent: 149 document cases, 9 oversize boxes, 9 oversize folders, 10 galley folders (62 linear feet)
Abstract: The papers of this British playwright consist of typescript and handwritten drafts, revision pages, outlines, and notes; production material, including cast lists, set drawings, schedules, and photographs; theatre programs; posters; advertisements; clippings; page and galley proofs; dust jackets; correspondence; legal documents and financial papers, including passports, contracts, and royalty and account statements; itineraries; appointment books and diary sheets; photographs; sheet music; sound recordings; a scrapbook; artwork; minutes of meetings; and publications.
Call Number: Manuscript Collection MS-4062
Language English
Access Open for research

Administrative Information

Acquisition Purchases and gifts, 1991-2000
Processed by Katherine Mosley, 1993-2000

Harry Ransom Center, University of Texas at Austin

Biographical Sketch

Playwright Tom Stoppard was born Tomas Straussler in Zlin, Czechoslovakia, on July 3, 1937. However, he lived in Czechoslovakia only until 1939, when his family moved to Singapore. Stoppard, his mother, and his older brother were evacuated to India shortly before the Japanese invasion of Singapore in 1941; his father, Eugene Straussler, remained behind and was killed. In 1946, Stoppard's mother, Martha, married British army officer Kenneth Stoppard and the family moved to England, eventually settling in Bristol.
Stoppard left school at the age of seventeen and began working as a journalist, first with the Western Daily Press (1954-58) and then with the Bristol Evening World (1958-60). Having developed a specialization in film and theatre criticism, in 1960 Stoppard became a free-lance journalist, writing critical articles and, for the Daily Press, two pseudonymous weekly columns. By the end of the year, he had completed his first full-length play, A Walk on the Water (later produced on stage in 1968 as Enter a Free Man), and acquired an agent, Kenneth Ewing of Fraser and Dunlop Scripts. He also wrote a short piece, The Gamblers, which was eventually performed by the University of Bristol drama department in 1965. Stoppard has referred to this as his "first" play in that he claims A Walk on the Water was an unoriginal composite of several plays he admired. Over the next few years, Stoppard wrote various works for radio, television, and the theatre. Among these were "M" Is for Moon among Other Things (1964), A Separate Peace (1966), and If You're Glad I'll Be Frank (1966). A Walk on the Water had been broadcast on ITV Television in 1963 and on BBC-TV in 1964, and Stoppard wrote many episodes of the radio serial A Student's Diary: An Arab in London (1966-67). In addition, three short stories were published by Faber and Faber in the anthology, Introduction 2: Stories by New Writers (1964).
From September 1962 until April 1963, Stoppard worked in London as a drama critic for Scene, writing reviews and interviews both under his name and under the pseudonym William Boot (taken from Evelyn Waugh's Scoop). In 1963, he began writing his only novel, Lord Malquist and Mr. Moon. The names Boot and Moon recur in many of Stoppard's works, generally with Boot being a character who makes things happen and Moon being a character to whom things happen.
While participating in a colloquium sponsored by the Ford Foundation in Berlin in 1964, Stoppard wrote a one-act play that later became Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead. The play, which focuses on two minor characters from Hamlet, examines the ideas of fate and free will. In August 1966, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead was performed by Oxford University students as part of the Edinburgh Festival fringe, and, at the same time, Stoppard's only novel was published; to Stoppard's surprise, it was the play that succeeded, establishing his reputation as a playwright. When the play, having caught the attention of Kenneth Tynan, was performed by the prestigious National Theatre Company at the Old Vic in London in 1967, it received immediate and widespread acclaim. Stoppard, at age 29, was a major success.
Of Stoppard's plays written over the next ten years, Jumpers, produced in 1972, and Travesties, produced in 1974, are among the best known. Dirty Linen and New-Found-Land (1976) was written for Ed Berman, founder of the Inter-Action community arts organization, on the occasion of his being granted British citizenship.
By 1977, Stoppard had become concerned with human rights issues, in particular with the situation of political dissidents in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union. In February 1977, he visited Russia with a member of Amnesty International. In June, Stoppard met Vladimir Bukovsky in London and traveled to Czechoslovakia, where he met Václav Havel. Stoppard became involved with Index on Censorship, Amnesty International, and the Committee against Psychiatric Abuse and wrote various newspaper articles and letters about human rights. He organized a Roll Call, or reading of names of Soviet refuseniks, at the National Theatre in 1986.
Stoppard's political concerns surfaced in his work. Every Good Boy Deserves Favour (1977) was written at the request of André Previn and was inspired by a meeting with Russian exile Viktor Fainberg. The play, about a political dissident confined to a Soviet mental hospital, is accompanied by an orchestra using a musical score composed by Previn. Professional Foul is a television play that Stoppard wrote over a period of three weeks as a contribution to Amnesty International's declaration of 1977 as Prisoner of Conscience Year.
Subsequent major stage plays by Stoppard include Night and Day (1978), The Real Thing (1982), Hapgood (1988), Arcadia (1993), Indian Ink (1995), which was based upon his radio play In the Native State (1991), and Invention of Love (1997).
In addition to his original stage plays, Stoppard has written original screenplays, teleplays, and radio plays, as well as adaptations for the stage and screen. His screenplay of Brazil, coauthored with Terry Gilliam and Charles McKeown, was nominated for an Academy Award in 1985; Shakespeare in Love, a screenplay co-written with Marc Norman, won that award in 1999. Other well-known screenplays by Stoppard include Empire of the Sun (1987, adapted from the novel by J. G. Ballard), The Russia House (1989, adapted from the novel by John le Carré), and Billy Bathgate (1991, adapted from the novel by E. L. Doctorow), as well as a film version of his own Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead (1991) that won the Grand Prize at the Venice Film Festival. Stoppard also sometimes reads and contributes to scripts by other writers for directors Kathleen Kennedy, Mike Nichols, and Steven Spielberg. Among teleplays by Stoppard, the best known is Squaring the Circle: Poland, 1980-81, a fictional documentary about the history of Solidarity.
The Dissolution of Dominic Boot (1964), Stoppard's first radio play, was the basis for his teleplay The Engagement (1970). Albert's Bridge, produced by the BBC in 1967, won the Prix Italia. Other successful radio plays by Stoppard include Artist Descending a Staircase (1972), The Dog It Was That Died (1982), and In the Native State (1991).
Tom Stoppard has established an international reputation as a writer of "serious comedy"; his plays are plays of ideas that deal with philosophical issues, yet he combines the philosophical ideas he presents with verbal wit and visual humor. His linguistic complexity, with its puns, jokes, innuendo, and other wordplay, is a chief characteristic of his work. In recognition of his achievements, Stoppard was knighted in 1997.
Stoppard has been married twice, to Jose Ingle (1965-72), a nurse, and to Miriam Moore-Robinson (1972-92), the head of a pharmaceutical company, and he has two sons from each marriage.
More information about Stoppard and his work may be found in Contemporary Authors: New Revision Series, vol. 39 (1993); Dictionary of Literary Biography, vols. 13 (1982) and 233 (2001); "Ambushes for the Audience: Towards a High Comedy of Ideas" in Theatre Quarterly (vol. 4, no. 14, 1974); "Profiles: Withdrawing with Style from the Chaos," by Kenneth Tynan in the New Yorker (19 December 1977); and "Tom Stoppard: His Life and Career Before Rosencrantz and Guildenstern," by John Fleming in The Library Chronicle, vol. 26, no. 3 (1996).


Note to Researchers
This finding aid for the Stoppard papers is a conflation of the five finding aids that were created for the original collection received in 1991 and 1993, and for four accretions that were described separately, received in 1994-1996, and 1998-1999. Materials added to the collection over time have not been physically interfiled for the most part, but the series descriptions and folder list group materials relating to a specific work or topic regardless of when they were received by the Center.

Scope and Contents

The Stoppard papers consist of typescript and holograph drafts, revision pages, outlines, and notes; production material, including cast lists, set drawings, schedules, and photographs; theatre programs; posters; advertisements; clippings; page and galley proofs; dust jackets; correspondence; legal documents and financial papers, including passports, contracts, and royalty and account statements; itineraries; appointment books and diary sheets; photographs; sheet music; sound recordings; a scrapbook; certificates; artwork; minutes of meetings; and publications, all ranging in date from 1939 to 2000, but primarily from 1970 to 2000. The material is organized in five series: Works (1962-2000, nd, 114.5 boxes), Works about Stoppard (1974-81, nd, 2.5 boxes), Correspondence (1954-93, 21.5 boxes), Legal and Personal Material (1944, 1966-72, 1987, nd, 8 boxes) and Works by Other Authors (1975-78, nd, 2.5 boxes).
Nearly all of Stoppard's major plays, screenplays, teleplays, and radio plays are represented in some form, along with many of his lesser-known works and some that were never produced. Stoppard's short stories are not well documented in the collection, although his only novel, Lord Malquist and Mr. Moon, is represented. For many works, materials from first or early drafts through various revisions, production, further revisions, and publication are present, reflecting Stoppard's practice of rewriting passages of his work continuously. Many of the typescripts are the result of Stoppard's dictation to a typist via cassette tape. Stoppard's revision process continues even after a play has begun production and been published. Page proofs, galleys, and typesetting copy typescripts show changes made in subsequent editions after the initial publication of a work.
For many of the works represented in the collection, Stoppard has maintained correspondence files, including production files and fan mail, separate from his general correspondence files, although similar materials may be found in both locations. Correspondence filed under a title usually consists of letters from people involved in various phases of a production, or from people praising or commenting upon the work. Reviews and articles about a work accompany the manuscripts, and are located under that title. When Stoppard collaborates with other writers, he works with them on a sequential basis rather than concurrently, and his amount of involvement varies by situation. Stoppard often is involved in film projects anonymously. For example, he often provides input on scripts sent to him by Stephen Spielberg, Mike Nichols, and Kathleen Kennedy.
Stoppard's career as a journalist is not as well documented in the collection as his playwriting career. However, through the years Stoppard has continued to write occasional pieces for various periodicals, and many of those are present. Folders of reviews and articles by Stoppard, some accompanied by letters from editors, are located at the end of the Works series. Additional articles by Stoppard about political issues are located in his "Russia File" in the Correspondence series. Most correspondence from editors of periodicals is housed with the general correspondence.
Correspondence in the collection relates almost exclusively to Stoppard's career rather than to his personal life. Most of the correspondence is letters from people involved in productions of his plays, as well as translators, journalists, periodical editors, fellow playwrights, and admirers of his work. Nearly all of the letters have brief notations, made mainly by Stoppard and his secretary Jacky Matthews, recording any responses. Photocopies of some outgoing letters, usually dictated by Stoppard to his secretary, are housed with the incoming correspondence. Of particular interest is Stoppard's correspondence with Anthony C. H. Smith; covering an approximate 30-year span, these letters trace Stoppard's writing career from its beginning. Letters from Stoppard's agent, Kenneth Ewing, cover the years 1962-87 and also follow the rise of Stoppard's career. Correspondence from Faber and Faber, Stoppard's primary publisher, discusses publication of Stoppard's books and includes printed dust jackets. Other significant correspondents include Ed Berman, Dirk Bogarde, Noël, Carr, Michael Codron, Guy Dumur, Lady Antonia Fraser, Michael Frayn, David Hare, Glynn Boyd Harte, Michael Horovitz, Ilya Levin, Bryan Magee, Trevor Nunn, Laurence Olivier, Harold Pinter, Ned Sherrin, and Kenneth Tynan. All correspondents in the Stoppard collection may be found in the Index of Correspondents.
Stoppard's interest in human rights issues is reflected throughout the collection. Correspondence with many human rights organizations, files on Czechoslovakia and Russia, and material from his work organizing the Roll Call at the National Theatre reveal the extent of his involvement in these issues. Through his contacts with political dissidents, Stoppard became friends with Czechoslovakian playwright and politician Václav Havel. Correspondence with and about Havel, copies of his works, and material from Stoppard's translation of Havel's Largo Desolato were originally grouped together. The correspondence has been separated and added to the Correspondence series, while Largo Desolato material has been housed with other works by Stoppard. Translations of Havel's The Beggar's Opera and The Conspirators are located in the Works by Other Authors series, along with works by Christopher Figg, Tomás Gartland, Tony Harrison, Vladimir J. Konecni, David Mamet, James Saunders, Peter Shaffer, Anthony C. H. Smith, Stephen Sondheim, and others.
Few original materials relating to Stoppard's personal life are present in the collection, although some letters to his parents, photocopies of marriage, divorce, and birth certificates, memorabilia, and photographs are present. The collection does provide information about Stoppard's interests in cricket, chess, fishing, and other subjects. For example, Harold Pinter arranged cricket matches with Stoppard through correspondence, while Anthony Smith, his wife, and Stoppard used their letters to each other to play chess. Similarly, typescript and printed copies of interviews, Stoppard's responses to various requests, and correspondence about production disputes provide insights into Stoppard's character and personality. Stoppard's interest in Ernest Hemingway, as well as his ability to form friendships quickly, can be seen in correspondence with Joan St. C. Crane of the University of Virginia, Carol (Mrs. Patrick) Hemingway, and Margie (Mrs. Louis Henry) Cohn of House of Books.
Additions to the collection are expected. Other manuscripts relating to Stoppard at the HRC may be found in the Gordon Dickerson, David Hare, Francis Henry King, London Magazine, Harold Pinter, and James Saunders papers.

Series Descriptions

Tom Stoppard Papers--Associated Materials

The following items have been removed from the collection and housed with the Center's Personal Effects holdings:
  • Every Good Boy Deserves Favour needlepoint, nd
  • Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead ball and cup, "Zagreb 1990"
  • Silver cricket bat charm, with stone inlays and engraved on the back: "Tom from Henry & Annie New York 5-1-84 Keep nudging..."
  • Silver airplane tie clip
  • Ivory letter-opener in the form of a cricket bat
  • Fishing flies attached to label "777W72 Gareth & Keeyard "(?)
  • Silver skiing medallion "Offert Par Les Skis Rossignol" (in box)
  • White t-shirt with purple "Playbill Lincoln Center Theater Hapgood " logo
  • Glass paperweight, "The First New York International Festival of the Arts June 11-July 11, 1988 Music, Dance, Theatre, Film and Television of the 20th Century"
  • Framed cartoon by "Marc," captioned "He's deeply depressed-he got a brilliant review in the Sunday Times, " Nov. 1978
  • Miniature Liberty Bell "presented to Stoppard by Mayor Edward G. Rendell, City of Philadelphia, February 7, 1996"
  • Presentation key engraved "Terry Hands," in pouch inscribed "Taormina Arte"
  • Graduation hood for honorary degree bestowed by the University of York, with accompanying letter from robe makers Ede and Ravenscroft, 1984
  • Antoinette Perry award for The Real Thing, 1984
  • International Film & Television Festival of New York award, 1984 (medallion, in box)
  • Drama Desk Award, "1983 1984 Outstanding New Play The Real Thing By Tom Stoppard" (two metal plates mounted on wooden blocks)
  • Lincoln Center Theater "Joan Cullman Award for Extraordinary Creativity Tom Stoppard Hapgood 1995 Arcadia " (bronze award in box)
  • Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle award for Distinguished Achievement, "1997 Writing, Tom Stoppard, Arcadia, Center Theatre Group/Mark Taper Forum" (plaque)
  • Las Vegas Film Critics Society's 1998 Sierra Award to: "Tom Stoppard, Best Screenplay Shakespeare in Love " (plaque)
  • Broadcasting Press Guild Television Awards "1977 Best Single Play Professional Foul by Tom Stoppard, Produced by Mark Shivas, Directed by Michael Lindsay-Hogg for BBC-2" (framed award certificate)
  • "The British Academy of Film and Television Arts Certificate of Award The Council hereby certifies that Tom Stoppard won the British Academy Award for Outstanding Achievement During 1977 in the Category Best Script Presented at the Wembley Conference Centre, May 16 1978" (framed certificate)
  • "Nomination Antoinette Perry Award Best Play Arcadia, Author: Tom Stoppard, Producer: Lincoln Center Theater, André Bishop, Bernard Gersten, 1994-1995, The American Theatre Wing, Inc. and The League of American Theaters and Producers, Inc." (framed certificate)
  • University of London Doctor of Literature honorary degree certificate, 9 June 1982, program of the proceedings, and text of introductory speech (all in embossed degree holder tube)
  • Brunel University honorary degree certificate, 18 Dec. 1979, and text of introductory speech (in embossed degree holder tube)
  • "Oh! Look what I've got on my plate!" ceramic plate painted with titles of early works by Stoppard, [ca. 1977]
The following have been removed from the collection and are housed with the Center's film holdings:
  • Thirteen "Master" Beta videotapes of the Roll Call at the National Theatre, 1986
  • Six audio tape reels of the Roll Call at the National Theatre, 1986
  • VHS videotape of the University of Hull degree conferment, 1998
  • VHS videotape of the University of York honorary degree conferment, 1984
  • Fragments of film showing the making of the film Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead, [1990]
Three original watercolors of Victorian postcards, ca. 1898, have been removed from the collection and housed with the Center's Art Collection. One is labeled "Isle of Wight" by "John Renage"
A bust of Stoppard by Alan Thornhill (accession number 96.2.1) was transferred to the Center’s Portrait Busts Art Collection (AR-00209).
In addition, printed editions of Stoppard's works in a variety of languages have been removed from the collection and are cataloged with the Center's book holdings, as is a publication about Costas Tsoclis' "Ark" project that had accompanied correspondence regarding that project.

Index Terms


Amis, Kingsley
Ashcroft, Peggy, Dame
Ayer, A.J. (Alfred Jules), 1910-
Beckett, Samuel, 1906-
Bell, Quentin
Berman, Ed
Bigsby, C.W.E.
Billington, Michael, 1939-
Blackford, Richard, 1954-
Blackwell, Vera
Bogarde, Dirk, 1921-
Bolt, Robert
Boorman, John, 1933-
Bukovskii, Vladimir Konstantinovich, 1942-
Carr, Noël
Carsen, Robert
Codron, Michael
Cohn, Louis Henry, Mrs.
Cooper, Donald
Crane, Joan St. C.
Doctorow, E.L., 1931-
Dumur, Guy, 1921-
Evans, Harold
Ewing, Kenneth
Eyre, Richard, 1943-
Fainberg, Viktor
Fassbinder, Rainer Werner, 1946-
Fraser, Antonia, 1932-
Frayn, Michael
Frink, Elisabeth, 1930-
Gaskell, Philip
Ghose, Zulfikar, 1935-
Gilliam, Terry
Gray, Simon, 1936-
Greene, Graham, 1904-
Griffiths, Trevor
Guppy, Shusha
Hall, Peter, Sir, 1930-
Hampton, Christopher, 1946-
Hardy, Joseph, 1929-
Hare, David, 1947-
Harte, Glynn Boyd
Harwood, Ronald, 1934-
Havel, Václav
Hedberg, Johannes
Horovitz, Michael, 1935-
James, Clive, 1939-
Jellicoe, Ann
Kerensky, Oleg, 1930-
Kundera, Milan
Le Carré, John, 1931-
Levin, Ilya Davidovich, 1948-
Losey, Joseph
Luff, Peter
McKellen, Ian
Magee, Bryan
Marcus, Frank
Märthesheimer, Peter, 1938-
Matthews, Jacky
May, Robert M. (Robert McCredie), 1936-
Mitchell, Adrian, 1932-
Mortimer, John Clifford, 1923-
Mosley, Nicholas, 1923-
Nichols, Peter, 1927-
Nunn, Trevor
Olivier, Laurence, 1907-
Pike, Frank
Pinter, Harold, 1930-
Read, Piers Paul, 1941-
Saunders, James, 1925-
Shaffer, Peter
Sher, Antony, 1949-
Sherrin, Ned
Smith, A.C.H. (Anthony Charles H.), 1935-
Spiel, Hilde
Spielberg, Steven, 1947-
Swander, Homer D., 1921-
Theiner, George
Toms, Carl
Trotter, Josephine
Tynan, Kenneth, 1927-
Vladislav, Jan, 1923-
Wells, John, 1936-
Wesker, Arnold, 1932-
Wintour, Charles
Wood, Peter, 1927-


Brandman Productions
Faber and Faber
Fraser & Dunlop Scripts Ltd
House of Books, Ltd. (New York, N.Y.)
Inter-Action Trust
Iron Mountain Proudctions
TVS (Firm: Great Britain)
Index on Censorship


Authors, English
Authors and publishers
Czech drama
Human rights workers
Literary agents

Document Types

Birth certificates
Christmas cards
Galley proofs
Report cards
Theater programs

Container List