University of Texas, Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center

James Saunders:

A Preliminary Inventory of His Papers at the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center

Descriptive Summary

Creator Saunders, James, 1925-
Title James Saunders Papers
Dates: 1959-1992
Abstract: The papers of this British playwright contain notebooks, playscripts, television and film scripts, correspondence, articles, essays, programs, and reviews.
Extent 24 boxes
Language English.
Repository: Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center, University of Texas at Austin

Scope and Contents

This collection contains notebooks, playscripts, television and film scripts, miscellaneous notes, correspondence, articles, essays, theses, programs, and reviews of the work of British playwright James Saunders. The material spans his career from the late 1960s through the early 1990s. According to the dealer, only a little early material survives, Saunders having destroyed much ca. 1969 (with the exception of the holograph manuscript of Next Time I'll Sing To You, which was given to charity). Saunders is known for his contribution as an experimental playwright, pushing the limits of traditional theater. His work and interest in fringe theater characterize the latter part of his career.

The material is grouped in categories as received from the dealer with some rearrangement to achieve alphabetical order within major sections. The collection has been divided into the following series: Works, which are subdivided by genre--manuscript notebooks, translations, articles, essays, and theses by and about Saunders; Incoming Correspondence; Outgoing Correspondence; and Printed material. Some published translations of Saunders' works received with these papers were transferred to the HRHRC Library for cataloging. In general, the material is in fine condition with the sole exception of an early version of The Emperor's Waltz. Some sections were heavily edited, using a cut and paste technique employing double-sided tape. Care should be taken when using this version.

The majority of the collection is composed of just over 100 edited typescripts of his plays, as well as adaptations and dramatizations of works of authors including H.E. Bates, A.E. Coppard, Alexander Dumas, David Garnett, Graham Greene, Ronald Harwood, Vaclav Havel, Patricia Highsmith, Henry James, D. H. Lawrence, Olivia Manning, Iris Murdoch, Somerset Maugham, and Thomas Love Peacock. Many of Saunders' plays appear in several versions, with a few translated into French and German. Also included are his award winning plays Next Time I'll Sing to You, Menocchio, and Fall.

Saunders' 18 manuscript notebooks defy chronology or even full content description due to the way in which he penned the entries. Rather than employing the usual linear front-to-back approach, Saunders chose to enter different works beginning at both ends of the notebook with additional material interspersed throughout. Generally, these notebooks contain fragments, notes, character sketches, and drafts for his plays dating from 1959-1983.

Arranged in date order, the incoming correspondence reflects a wide range of correspondents including Saunders' agent, Margaret Ramsay (who described him as the first person she represented), Ramsay's assistants, plus numerous producers and others at the B.B.C., publishers, translators, theater administrators, directors, actors, critics, fellow playwrights, and students seeking Saunders' perspective on his work. In addition, there is a substantial amount of outgoing correspondence, also arranged by date. Featured in this material are Ed Berman, John Bratby, Michael Caine, Penelope Fitzgerald, Peter Hall, Christopher Hampton, David Hare, Vaclav Havel, Suzanne Lombard, Charles Marowitz, John Mortimer, Iris Murdoch, V.S. Pritchett, Vanessa Redgrave, Robin Skelton, Hilde Spiel, and Tom Stoppard.

Adding perspective to Saunders' work, there is substantial documentation of his career in programs, handbills, and announcements of his plays produced worldwide, dating from 1960-1992. In addition there exists a large collection of reviews from newspapers and periodical literature including quantities of material from continental Europe. Also included are twenty short essays and introspective articles by Saunders, as well as several German and Italian theses on his work.



Open for research

Administrative Information


Reg. No. 13283

Processed by

Liz Murray, 1995

James Saunders Papers--Folder List

Series I. Works

Subseries A. Holograph Manuscript Notebooks
box folder
1 1 Who was Hilary Maconochie? [1959]
2 A Slight Accident
3 If Love Decay and Double Double or Gimlet
4 Gimlet;Triangle;More Stately Mansions
5 Act I of A Scent of Flowers; The Blue Moccasins; script with characters Arthur, Sidney, Myra, Helen, Albert
6 Parts of The Pedagogue and Return to the City
7 Linking passages for If Love Decay and Pay As You Go
8 The Flower Case [1965]
box folder
2 1 Script (main characters Miss W. and Gee) and drafts of Lawrence's The White Stocking and Two Blue Birds
2 Script (characters Rose, Benny, Basil, Arthur, Terry) and drafts of Lawrence's New Eve and Old Adam and Monkey Nuts
3 The Travails of Sancho Panza; The Borage Pigeon Affair; and a script involving a spaceship
4 A Punch and Judy Show;Bye-Bye-Blues;Diary of a Well-Meaning Man;The Flower Case
5 Grasshopper
box folder
3 1 The Emperor Waltz
2 Script (characters Don Juan and Charlotte) and a three page piece on synchronicity
3 Script (characters Pupil and Tutor), possibly Third Person
4 Notes entitled "Figner"
5-8 Notes, drafts, and sketches for miscellaneous pieces including The Mill, The Captain's Doll, The Sailor's Return
Subseries B. Playscripts
box folder
4 1 Alas Poor Fred
2 The Ark
3-5 Bodies
6 Commital
7 Emperor Waltz [revised version]
8 Emperor Waltz [final version]
box folder
5 1-6 Emperor Waltz
box folder
6 1 Fall
2-3 The Girl in Melanie Klein
4 If Love Decay
5-10 The Italian Girl [various versions and notes]
11 A Journey to London
box folder
7 1-2 A Journey to London
3-7 Making It Better [various versions]
box folder
8 1 More Stately Mansions
2 Next Time I'll Sing to You
3 The Old Man Who Liked Cats
4 Play for Yesterday
5 Scandella
6 A Scent of Flowers
7-8 Squat
9 The Tempest (in a coffee cup)
10 The Travails of Sancho Panza
Subseries C. Radio Plays
box folder
9 1 After Liverpool
2 Alas Poor Fred
3 Barnstable
4 Birdsong
5 Bye Bye Blues
6 A Child Crying
7 The Confidential Agent
8 The Flower Case
9 Gimlet
10 Headlong Hall
11 The Island
12 It's Not the Game It Was
13 The Last Black and White Midnight Movie
14-15 The Magic Bathroom
box folder
10 1-4 Menocchio [various versions and note fragments]
5 Next Time I'll Sing To You
6 Nimrod's Oak
7 Pay As You Go
8 The Pedagogue
9 Poor Old Simon
10 Random Moments in a May Garden
11 Redevelopment
box folder
11 1 A Suspension of Mercy
2-7 The Three Musketeers [Episodes 1-6]
8 Women Are So Unreasonable
Subseries D. Television Scripts
9-12 The Avenue [Episodes 1, 4, 7, 13]
box folder
12 1 The Beast in the Jungle
2-7 Bloomers [Episodes 1-6]
8 The Blue Moccasins
9 The Borage Pigeon Affair
box folder
13 1 The Captain's Doll
2 Craven Arms
3 Dennis
4 The First Lady
5 The Flower Case
6 The Grass God
7-8 Jung
9 Monkey Nuts
box folder
14 1 New Eve and Old Adam
2 Nothing to Declare
3-4 Plastic People
5-6 Random Moments in a May Garden
7 School for Love
8 Third Person
9 The Unconquered
10 Watch Me I'm a Bird; or Jam Saturday
Subseries E. Film Scripts
box folder
15 1 The Sailor's Return
2 What Maisie Knew
Subseries F. Miscellaneous Scripts, Translations, Essays, Articles, and Theses
3 Isaac Newton [notes for an aborted BBC documentary]
4 Puppet Play [holograph manuscript synopsis]
5 Abschiedskanon [ Bye Bye Blues]
6 Barrabas
7 Cuerpos [Bodies]
8 Epitaphe pour un Chien
9 Hilaire Maconochie, In Memoriam
10 Ein Kind Weint
11 Ein Tag Beim Zahnarzt
12 Les Voisins
box folder
16 1 James Saunders' short essays and articles
2 James Saunders, Greek translation of A Scent of Flowers
3 Eckhard Auberlen, "Die Nutzung des dramatischen Mediums in James Saunders' Next Time I'll Sing to You"
4 Hans Fraeulin, "Das Theater des Schizophrenen"
5 Hans Joachim Held, "Das Thema der Isolation in den Dramen von James Saunders"
6 Tesi di Laurea, "Il Teatro Inglese Contemporaneo: James Saunders"

Series II. Correspondence (Incoming)

box folder
17 1 Spiel, Hilde
2 Regarding The Girl in Melanie Klein
3 Lear, Edward
4-9 1967-70
box folder
18 1-7 1971-77
box folder
19 1-7 1978-83
box folder
20 1-9 1984-92

Series III. Correspondence (Outgoing)

box folder
21 1 1970-1973
2 1974-1978
3 1979-1983
4 1984
5 undated

Series IV. Printed Material

box folder
22 1-6 Clippings, reviews
23-24 Programs, handbills, and announcements, etc. worldwide in scope, 1960-1992