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University of Texas at Austin

Peter Glenville:

An Inventory of His Papers at the Harry Ransom Center

Creator: Glenville, Peter, 1913-1996
Title: Peter Glenville Papers
Dates: 1914-2001
Extent: 37 document boxes, 5 oversize boxes, 4 oversize flat files (osf) (17.64 linear feet)
Abstract: The Peter Glenville Papers embrace correspondence, business records, address books, appointment books, photographs, clippings, and personal documents. Spanning the years 1914 to 2001, the collection is largely in its original order, with the material in each series arranged alphabetically by original file title.
Call Number: Manuscript Collection MS-04927
Language: English
Access: Open for research. Some materials have mold damage; see the Condition Note concerning access to these materials.
Condition Note: Portions of the Peter Glenville Papers were damaged by mold during storage in the years after Glenville’s death. Most of the damaged materials were in sufficiently sound condition to permit the Ransom Center’s Conservation Department to clean them so that they could be safely handled and viewed with proper precautions. During cataloging, preservation photocopies were made of all personal correspondence located within the moderately mold-damaged materials (boxes 30-37) and these surrogates are now interfiled in the undamaged papers (boxes 1-29) to facilitate use of the collection. All photocopies are marked "Preservation photocopy of mold-damaged original in the Peter Glenville Papers." Researchers wishing to access the moderately mold-damaged originals located in boxes 30-37 are cautioned that while the Conservation Department has treated these manuscripts for mold infestation by aspiration and/or dry cleaning, mold may still be present. Users sensitive to mold should wear gloves and a dust/mist respirator while handling this material. Other Glenville materials (about 3 linear feet) were so severely damaged by mold that salvage was not possible. These files were examined by the cataloger, who identified the most significant letters and documents present, made preservation photocopy surrogates of these items, and interfiled the surrogates into the undamaged papers. These photocopies are marked "Preservation photocopy of extensively mold-damaged original in the Peter Glenville Papers; Original item not available for use."


Administrative Information


Acquisition: Purchase, 2003 (R 15254)
Processed by: Bob Taylor, 2006
Repository:

Harry Ransom Center, The University of Texas at Austin

Biographical Sketch


Peter Glenville was born to a noted theatrical family on 28 October 1913 in London. Peter’s parents Shaun Glenville, an Irish-born comedian, and Dorothy Ward were musical theater performers much-loved for their work in that characteristically-British light musical theater genre known as pantomime, panto for short.
After graduation from Stonyhurst College, Peter Glenville attended Christ Church College, Oxford University, where he joined the Oxford University Dramatic Society. In 1934, he became the society’s president and also made his professional stage debut. Over the next several years Glenville was active in the theater and motion pictures as an actor, gradually developing an interest in directing, and leading to his 1944 appointment as director for the Old Vic Company.
After World War II, Glenville met Hardy William Smith (1916-2001). Smith had taken his military discharge from the United States Navy in Britain at the war’s end, intending to pursue a career in the theater there. Glenville and Smith became professional and life partners, with Smith producing and Glenville directing plays for the London stage.
Glenville and Smith soon became active in the theater on both sides of the Atlantic, their 1949 production of The Browning Version being Glenville’s first directorial effort in New York. Notable London and New York productions included The Innocents (1950), Summer and Smoke (1951), Separate Tables (1954),The Prisoner (also 1954), and Hotel Paradiso (1957). A 1955 film version of The Prisoner represented Glenville’s first direction of a motion picture; both versions featured Glenville’s close friend and frequent collaborator Alec Guinness.
After more than a decade of living in London Glenville and Smith moved to New York in 1960 and bought a house at 18 East 68th Street in Manhattan. Through the sixties Peter Glenville was very active in film and theatrical productions in the United States, directing on Broadway Take Me Along (1959-60), Becket (1960), and Dylan (1964), as well as film adaptations of Summer and Smoke (1961), Becket (1964), and Hotel Paradiso (1966). Glenville’s film productions Me and the Colonel (1958) and The Comedians (1967) were not based on earlier Glenville theatrical productions.
Peter Glenville worked on a film version of Man of La Mancha in 1971, but, failing to agree with MGM about the project, he bowed out. Following a Broadway production of Tennessee Williams’s Out Cry (1973) Glenville retired from active theatrical and film work, eventually moving to San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, where he developed a notable colonial estate. Peter Glenville died in New York City on 3 June 1996; Hardy Smith survived him by five years.

Sources:


Van Gelder, Lawrence. "Peter Glenville, 82, a Director on Broadway and in London," New York Times, 5 June 1996.
Who’s Who in the Theatre, 17th ed. Detroit: Gale Research, 1981.

Scope and Contents


Scope and Contents

The Peter Glenville Papers embrace correspondence, business records, address books, appointment books, photographs, clippings, and personal documents. Spanning the years 1914 to 2001, the collection is largely in its original order, with the material in each series arranged alphabetically by original file title. The subseries of clippings and photographs lacked systematic descriptions and was organized at the Ransom Center.
The papers described herein comprise four series: Series I. Works and Productions, 1944-72 (9 boxes); Series II. Business Files, 1945-76 (4.5 boxes); Series III. Personal Papers, 1914-2001 (26 boxes); and Series IV. Hardy William Smith Materials, 1920-99 (1.5 boxes).
The Works and Productions series includes correspondence, business records, and a few scripts for plays and films, realized or projected, in which Glenville was involved between 1944 and 1972. The materials included are in most cases selective rather than exhaustive, although the files relating to Becket (play and film versions), The Comedians, Dylan, and Hotel Paradiso (both versions) contain a significant amount of correspondence.
The Business Files contain communications from Glenville’s accountants and principal legal representation, along with some general correspondence created during the years 1945-76. A number of scripts not related to any specific project in which Peter Glenville had involved himself are present in the series.
The Personal Papers series is the largest in the Glenville Papers and is broken down into six subseries, documenting various aspects of Peter Glenville’s personal life, avocational interests, household, and career. The subseries are A. Correspondence, B. Financial Files, C. Household Files, D. Personal Records and Related Material, E. Clippings, and F. Photographic Prints and Slides.
The final series, Hardy William Smith Materials, contains a significant amount of personal correspondence for the period from the 1950s to 1999, as well as the business records relating to the house at 18 East 68th Street, and a collection of personal and family photographs covering the years 1920 to 1952.

Series Descriptions

Series I. Works and Productions, 1944-72 (9 boxes)
The series contains correspondence, contracts, and other documents relating to works directed by Peter Glenville. In general there is little material present covering Glenville’s career in the 1940s and early 1950s, and a number of plays from the later period (e.g., Rashomon and Tchin-Tchin) are not represented in the series.
Among the works documented is his own 1944 adaptation of Turgenev’s novel A House of Gentlefolk. Scripts for Becket, Me and the Colonel, and an unrealized project, Bridget Boland’s The Bull from the Sea, based on the Mary Renault novel are also present in the series. A substantial amount of material relating to Glenville’s involvement in the film version of Man of La Mancha is found here, the majority of it from the lightly-mold-damaged portion of the papers.
A considerable number of other unrealized projects, including the films Tower of Babel and John Collier’s Paradise Lost adaptation are documented in the series, as is Glenville’s effort to stage Waiting for Godot. The material relating to Godot in this series and elsewhere in the papers suggests Peter Glenville regarded his inability to secure an agreement with Samuel Beckett one of his major professional disappointments.
Correspondents found in the series include Jean Anouilh, Lillian Gish, Graham Greene, James Salter, and Peter Ustinov. A complete index of correspondents present in this series (and in the other series) has been compiled and is included in this finding aid.
Series II. Business Files, 1945-76 (4.5 boxes)
Peter Glenville’s correspondence with Denise Tual in the years 1953-61 is perhaps the most significant material in the series, though a small group of letters between Glenville and Hardy Smith gives insight into the director’s handling of relationships in day-to-day work in the theater. Otherwise, apart from the correspondence with Glenville’s accountants (A. T. Chenhalls & Co.) and legal representation (Weissberger & Frosch), most of the material in the series is fragmentary.
A group of scripts is also present in the series, of which only Anouilh’s To Kill a King appears to represent a seriously-considered property. To Kill a King is based on a Philippe Erlanger novel and is related to the Galigai file in Series I.
Series III. Personal Papers, 1914-2001 (bulk 1952-93) (26 boxes)
Subseries A. Correspondence, 1950-96 (3.5 boxes)
The personal correspondence present is fragmentary and largely absent for the years before the mid-1950s, but it does even so appear to represent the wide range of Peter Glenville’s social contacts rather well, including as it does theater people, Catholic intellectuals, members of the American conservative establishment, and family. Glenville himself appears here in the form of his own carbons as a thoughtful and enthusiastic correspondent.
Correspondents in this subseries include Geoffrey Bennison, Christopher and William F. Buckley, Philip Caraman, Alec Guinness, William Loverd, Dotson Rader, Oliver Lemuel Smith, Roger L. Stevens, Bernard Treneman, and the John Ward family. See the Index of Correspondents for additional persons represented.
Subseries B. Financial Files, 1955-80 (1.5 boxes)
The papers in this subseries are a very fragmentary collection of miscellaneous financial records; many records of similar significance are located in Series II. Business Files.
Subseries C. Household Files, 1952-79 (2 boxes)
While not an extensive group of materials, this subseries does contain significant correspondence and related records on houses and apartments rented by Glenville in the 1960s, as well as for his house in London at 24 Brompton Square.
Subseries D. Personal Records and Related Material, 1935-2001 (5 boxes)
Peter Glenville’s appointment books survive for most years from 1969 to 1994, and a number of address books apparently dating from the 1960s and 1970s are also found in the subseries. Copies of his 1976 and 1981 wills, as well as some miscellaneous writings (including his translation of Feydeau’s Le Dindon) are also present.
Subseries E. Clippings, 1933-64 (8 boxes)
Clippings representing Glenville’s career in theater from his Oxford days into the mid-1960s comprise Subseries E. Of particular interest are clippings relating to Peter Glenville’s early activity in the theater and to various unrealized film and stage projects.
Subseries F. Photographic Prints and Slides, 1914-90 (5.5 boxes)
Included here are a small number of early and family-related images, along with theatrical prints, film stills, and travel-related prints and slides from the mid-1960s to about 1985.
Series IV. Hardy William Smith Materials, 1920-99 (bulk 1943-99) (1.5 boxes)
Personal correspondence present in the Hardy William Smith series includes letters from Isabel Eberstadt, George S. Kaufman, Leueen MacGrath, and Irene M. Selznick. The sizeable quantity of correspondence and other papers relating to the house on East 68th Street provides a remarkable view of the challenges involved in maintaining, staffing, and dealing with tenants in a large Manhattan residence.

Related Material


Collections in the Ransom Center which contain material related to Glenville include the Joseph Abeles Studio Collection, as well as the collections of B. J. Simmons & Co., Graham Greene, James Salter, Tennessee Williams, and Audrey Wood.

Separated Material


A small number of personal belongings of Peter Glenville has been removed to the Personal Effects Collection, as have three videocassettes to the Sound Recordings Collection.

Folder List