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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.
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

The University of Texas at Austin, Harry Ransom Center

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.


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

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

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