Request Checked Items
University of Texas at Austin

David Mamet:

An Inventory of His Papers in the Manuscript Collection at the Harry Ransom Center

Creator: Mamet, David, 1947-
Title: David Mamet Papers
Dates: 1918-2007 (bulk 1969-2005)
Extent: 333 document boxes, 17 serial boxes, 12 oversize boxes (osb), 1 galley folder (gf), 21 oversize folders (osf) (152.88 linear feet)
Abstract: The papers of American playwright, writer, and film director David Mamet consist mainly of manuscripts and related production materials for most of his plays, films, and other writings, primarily dating from 1969-2005.
Language: English, French, German, Hebrew, Italian, and Spanish
Access: Open for research

Administrative Information

Acquisition: Purchase, 2007 (R16498)
Processed by: Jennifer Hecker, Katherine Mosley, Jesse Cordes Selbin, 2009

The University of Texas at Austin, Harry Ransom Center

Biographical Sketch

David Alan Mamet was born November 30, 1947, in Chicago, Illinois. His father, Bernard Morris Mamet, was a labor lawyer, and his mother, Lenore June Silver Mamet, was a teacher. Mamet’s parents divorced in 1958.
Mamet was introduced to the theater as a teenager, when he worked backstage at Hull House Theatre and as a busboy at the improvisational comedy troupe Second City. After graduating from Francis W. Parker High School in Chicago, Mamet attended Goddard College in Plainfield, Vermont, studying drama and literature. He also spent a year studying acting with Sanford Meisner at the Neighborhood Playhouse School of the Theatre in New York City. After receiving his B. A. degree from Goddard in 1969, Mamet worked for a year as a drama teacher at Marlboro College in Vermont. During that time his play Lakeboat was produced by his students. Mamet then returned to Chicago for a year, working at a variety of jobs. From 1971 to 1972, he was a drama instructor and artist-in-residence at Goddard College, where he formed a company of actors, the St. Nicholas Company, which produced several of his plays. Mamet returned to Chicago the following year, and with Steven Schachter, William H. Macy, and Patricia Cox, founded a reincarnation of his earlier acting company, the St. Nicholas Theater Company. He served as the company’s artistic director until 1976. He was associate director of the Goodman Theatre in Chicago from 1978 to 1979, and he and Macy founded the Atlantic Theater Company in New York in 1985.
In 1975, a successful double-bill performance of Mamet’s plays Sexual Perversity in Chicago and Duck Variations was staged off-off Broadway at St. Clement’s Theatre in New York. American Buffalo, which opened at Broadway’s Ethel Barrymore Theatre in 1977, was voted the Best American Play of 1976-1977 by the New York Drama Critics Circle and solidified Mamet’s reputation as a playwright. Many of Mamet’s subsequent plays, including Edmond (1982), Glengarry Glen Ross (1984), Speed-the-Plow (1988), Oleanna (1991), and The Cryptogram (1994), also received high acclaim. Mamet was awarded the 1984 Pulitzer Prize for drama for Glengarry Glen Ross, and Speed-the-Plow received the 1988 Tony Award for best play.
Mamet’s career as a screenwriter began in 1979 with his adaptation of The Postman Always Rings Twice (1981). He received Academy Award nominations for The Verdict in 1982 and Wag the Dog in 1997. Other films by Mamet include House of Games (1987), The Untouchables (1987), Homicide (1991), Hoffa (1992), The Spanish Prisoner (1997), The Winslow Boy (1999), State and Main (2000), Heist (2001), and Spartan (2004). Mamet’s film House of Games also marked his debut as a film director. Many of Mamet’s films feature actors Lindsay Crouse, Ricky Jay, William H. Macy, Joe Mantegna, and Rebecca Pidgeon.
In addition to his reputation as a playwright, screenwriter, director, and producer, Mamet is known as an essayist and novelist and has written poetry and lyrics, published a book of cartoons, and contributed drawings and blogs to the news website The Huffington Post. Several of his books and plays were written for children.
Mamet was married to actress Lindsay Crouse from 1977 to 1990; they have two daughters, Willa and Zosia. In 1991, Mamet married actress Rebecca Pidgeon; they have two children, Clara and Noah.


Contemporary Authors Online, (accessed 5 September 2007)
Kane, Leslie, editor. David Mamet in Conversation. Ann Arbor: The University of Michigan Press, 2001.
Lewis, Patricia. "David Mamet." Dictionary of Literary Biography Online, (accessed 5 September 2007)
Nadel, Ira. David Mamet: A Life in the Theatre. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2008

Scope and Contents

The papers of American playwright, writer, and film director David Mamet consist mainly of manuscripts and related production materials for most of his plays, films, and other writings, primarily dating from 1969-2005. Included are journals; typescript and handwritten manuscript drafts, revision pages, and notes; photographs, theater programs, posters, schedules, contact lists, set designs, and similar play production material; expense receipts, schedules, cast and crew lists, shot lists, storyboards, location photographs, film stills, movie props, set newsletters, and other film production material; research material; reviews and other clippings; scrapbooks; agreements; page proofs; dust jacket designs; musical scores; artwork; correspondence; agreements; award certificates; datebooks and weekly schedules; office and business files; and periodicals. The collection has been organized in six series: I. Works (1966-2007 and undated, 257 boxes, 8 oversize boxes, 21 oversize folders, 1 galley folder); II. Career-Related Papers (1969-2002, 7 boxes); III. Office and Business Files (1964-2003 and undated, 58 boxes, 1 oversize box); IV. Personal and Family Papers (1918-2000 and undated, 2 boxes); V. Works by Others (1931-2000 and undated, 9 boxes); and VI. Serial Publications (1974-2005, 17 boxes, 3 oversize boxes). While most of the material is in English, some translations and production materials are in other languages.
The Works series has been subdivided into three subseries: A. Journals; B. Plays, Screenplays, Teleplays, and Books; and C. Essays, Articles, Lectures, Lyrics, Poems, Reviews, and Short Stories. The 184 journals, which are arranged chronologically, date from 1966 to 2005 and include Mamet’s handwritten drafts of works, diary entries, drawings, ideas, and notes. Subseries B. comprises the majority of the collection and includes Mamet’s typescript and handwritten drafts, notes and outlines; production and publicity material for his plays and films; and typesetting copies and proofs for his books. Nearly all of Mamet’s work to date, from his 1969 college thesis, Camel, to his 2007 play November, is represented in some form, including American Buffalo, Glengarry Glen Ross, House of Games, Oleanna, The Spanish Prisoner, Speed-the-Plow, The Verdict, and Wag the Dog. Subseries C. consists primarily of typescript drafts of Mamet’s essays, articles, song lyrics, poetry, and other shorter works, dating from 1975 to 2005.
Series II. Career-Related Papers includes datebooks and weekly schedules; awards and honors; photographs, including those of Mamet’s associates; scrapbooks containing primarily reviews and other clippings about Mamet and his work; materials relating to Mamet’s brief career as an actor and his work as a teacher; and works written about Mamet.
Series III. Office and Business Files is composed of four interrelated groups of files. The first group is composed of the files from David Mamet’s office. These files were primarily maintained by Mamet’s various assistants. The bulk of the material dates from the 1990s, and contains a broad array of subject matter, some of which is related to the materials in the Works series, or contains materials similar to those found in the separate Personal and Family Papers series. The other three groups, the files of the Back Bay Theater Company (a stage production company), Bay Kinescope (a film production company), and The School Company (another film production company) are all related to Mamet productions and the production process.
Among the varied items in Series IV. Personal and Family Papers are Mamet’s baby book; original artwork by Shel Silverstein for birth announcements for Mamet’s children Clara and Noah; clippings on a variety of topics; theater programs, catalogs, and other published material; family photographs; and Mamet’s high school diploma.
Most of the items in Series V. Works by Others are copies of scripts used by Mamet’s first wife, actress Lindsay Crouse. Also present are manuscripts of works by such writers as Grace McKearney, Mamet’s sister, Lynn Mamet, John Sayles, and others.
The final series, Serials Publications, contains full issues of periodicals that include works by or about Mamet; these range in date from 1988 to 2000.
Books, audio-visual materials, electronic records, and personal effects received with Mamet’s papers have been transferred to other departments within the Ransom Center. See the Separated Material description for further details.

Series Descriptions

Related Material

The following Ransom Center collections also contain Mamet-related materials:
  • American Repertory Theatre
  • DeNiro, Robert
  • Stoppard, Tom
The University of Delaware Special Collections Department holds a collection of David Mamet material collected by Richard Hoffman.

Separated Material

283 books arrived at the Ransom Center with the Mamet Papers. Included were multiple copies of Mamet’s works, foreign editions, and books used by Mamet for research on specific topics. These volumes have been removed from the archive and cataloged separately for the Center's Library.
Twenty videocassette tapes and seven reels of film have been transferred to the Ransom Center’s Moving Image Collection. Of the cassettes, eighteen are in VHS format, while two are ¾-inch U-matic tapes. Titles of these tapes include All that Jazz, The Big Carnival, Let It Ride, Love Is Deaf and This Is an Important Film with Something to Say. A small number of tapes related to five of Mamet’s films (Heist, A Life in the Theatre, Ricky Jay and His 52 Assistants, State and Main, The Spanish Prisoner) and to his family life are present. In addition, seven reels of film used in the production of the Bay Kinescope film logo can also be found here.
Two reel-to-reel tapes, one 12-inch vinyl LP, one 7-inch vinyl record, twenty-seven audio cassette tapes, and three compact discs (Down From Above by Rebecca Pidgeon’s band, Ruby Blue) have been transferred to the Ransom Center's Sound Recordings Collection. Six of the cassettes feature Mamet’s lectures about directing films, and two reel-to-reel recordings (plus cassette copies) document his musical talents. Also present are audio tapes of various Mamet-written or -directed productions including American Buffalo, Edmond, Faust, The Frog Prince, A Life in the Theatre, and The Poet and the Rent. Eight of the cassettes are recordings of productions for Chicago Theatres On The Air. Titles include Black Beauty, Do the White Thing, The Hero’s Journey, The Jungle, Never the Sinner, and Three Women Talking.
Fifteen computer disks have been transferred to the Ransom Center's Electronic Records Collection. The discs contain literary drafts, production budgets, and artwork.
The following items have been removed from the archive and housed with the Ransom Center's Personal Effects Collection:
  • Buffalo-shaped metal lamp
  • Chicago Tribune Magazine cover featuring Mamet, mounted, 1982
  • Heist, Hinton Field Airport visitor badge
  • Hill St. Blues, office key
  • House of Games, two glass Critics’ Circle awards, 1988
  • An Interview [Death Defying Acts], box engraved with "Opening Night March 6, 1995" and containing mold of teeth
  • Oleanna, "Get Concerned" buttons
  • Spanish Prisoner
    • Patch
    • Prop key to safe which held "The Process" in the film
    • St. Estephe flag
    • Viking hat
  • State and Main
    • Best Ensemble Performance award from The National Board of Review, 2000, etched glass
    • Best Ensemble Performance award from The National Board of Review, 2000, etched glass
    • Best Film plaque, Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival, 2000
    • Tartan fabric samples
  • Vietnam Veterans Workshop photo identification card, 1991

Index Terms


Authors, American--20th Century
Dramatists, American
Film adaptations
Jewish authors
Motion picture locations
Motion picture producers and directors
Motion pictures--Production and direction
Screenwriters--United States

Document Types

Appointment books
Baby books
Film stills
Legal documents
Television scripts
Theater programs

Container List