University of Texas, Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center

Sandy Wilson:

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

Descriptive Summary

Creator Wilson, Sandy, 1924-
Title Sandy Wilson Papers
Dates: 1936-1996
Abstract: The papers include produced and unproduced plays, mostly musicals but also plays for stage and TV, as well as drafts of Wilson's published and unpublished works including an autobiography, illustrated book, novels, articles, and short stories, along with correspondence.
Extent 17 boxes, 1 oversize box (8.48 linear feet)
Language English.
Repository: Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center, University of Texas at Austin

Scope and Contents

"The creation of a musical is the most satisfying thing in the world..." Sandy Wilson, talk given at Oxford, May 5, 1955

The papers of British author, composer, and lyricist Sandy Wilson include his produced and unproduced plays, mostly musicals but also plays for stage and TV, as well as drafts of his published and unpublished works including an autobiography, illustrated book, novels, articles, and short stories, along with correspondence spanning a 60 year period from the 1930s to 1990s. His musicals, produced worldwide, especially his long-running play The Boy Friend (1952-1994), are well-represented. Material related to productions of his plays includes scripts, scores, lyrics, programs, reviews, production photographs, correspondence, and scrapbooks. Wilson organized his papers prior to donating the collection to the Ransom Center. His descriptions are used throughout the following inventory. Wilson wrote drafts of his works in lined notebooks, often followed later by typescripts. To avoid repetition of the entry "holograph notebook" in the folder list, assume that his writings appear in these notebooks, unless otherwise noted.

The collection is arranged in three Series: Series I. Works, 1936-1994, Series II. Career-Related Material, and Series III. Correspondence, 1953-1996.

Series I is subdivided into Subseries A. Major Works, 1943-1994 and Subseries B. Notebooks and Drafts, 1936-1981. The produced and unproduced, published and unpublished works in Subseries A are arranged alphabetically by title, regardless of literary form. Within titles, the order follows the creative process from notes and drafts to the completed work. For example, for the musical Clapham Wonder, the script sequence begins with a holograph manuscript, proceeds through two typescript versions, and ends with the rehearsal script. If production materials are present, the sequence may include lyrics, scripts, correspondence, photographs, programs, and reviews. Some of Wilson's plays are based on the works of other writers such as Cecil Beaton ( My Royal Past), Barbara Comyns ( Clapham Wonder), Ronald Firbank ( Caprice), Christopher Isherwood ( Goodbye to Berlin), John Collier ( His Monkey Wife), Compton Mackenzie ( Siren Song), and R. B. Sheridan ( The Rivals), as well as his own original material.

The largely unpublished writings in Subseries B, arranged chronologically from 1936-1981, are also predominantly in the form of holograph notebooks, often with multiple works contained in a single notebook. Included are plays, novel fragments, short stories, lyrics, sketches, talks, scripts, notes for musicals, memoirs, articles, and reviews, some of which represent drafts of works present in Subseries A.

The career-related material in Series II includes articles by and about Wilson, newspaper clippings, photographs, programs, scrapbooks, sheet music, sketches, and songs, for the most part not directly related to materials in Series I.

Personal and professional correspondence from 1953-1996 forms the bulk of Series III. Also included are fan mail and correspondence related to Wilson's long-time friend and agent, Joan Rees.



Open for research

Administrative Information


Gift, 1999 (G11358)

Processed by

Liz Murray, 1999

Sandy Wilson Papers - Folder List

Series I. Works, 1936-1994

Subseries A. Major Works, 1943-1994
Aladdin and the Magic Lamp, musical, Lyric Theatre, Hammersmith, Christmas 1979
box folder
1 1 Notes on libretto and lyrics
2 Holograph script
3 Rehearsal script
4 Program
The Boy Friend, musical, 1952-1994
5 Lyrics, 1952.
Notebook includes lyrics for Watergate Revues "See You Later" and "See You Again," 1951-52, and miscellaneous notes
6 Script and lyrics for 1st version, 1952; (extra) script and lyrics for 2nd version, 1953
7 Score, 1953-54
8-9 Photographs, Broadway production, 1954
box folder
2 1 Rehearsal script, 1967,
Yvonne Arnaud Theatre, Guilford and Comedy Theatres, London
2 1954-1990
3 1994,
with production-related materials
4 British (amateur)
5-6 British (professional)
7 Commonwealth and foreign productions
box folder
3 1-2 USA (Broadway and elsewhere)
The Buccaneer, musical, Lyric Theatre, Hammersmith, 1955 and Apollo Theatre, 1976
[see also new lyrics and dialogue for second production contained in holograph notebook with Oh, Henry!]
3 Rehearsal script, 2nd version
4 Programs, various productions
Caprice, musical based on novel by Ronald Firbank, unproduced, 1971-73
5-6 Holograph script
7 Carbon typescript
8 Duplicated typescript
Clapham Wonder, musical based on novel The Vet's Daughter by Barbara Comyns; Marlow Theatre, Canterbury, 1978
9 Notes on libretto and research for "Harrods" number
10 Holograph script
box folder
4 1 Carbon typescript
2 Duplicated typescript
3 Rehearsal script
4 Program
Divorce Me, Darling!, musical sequel to "The Boy Friend"
5 Original score, ms.
6 Script with notes, 1964
7 Revised script, title page marked "Joan Heal," West End version, Globe Theatre, 1965
8 Revised version, 1976?,
carbon typescript, Tower Theatre, Islington
box folder
5 1 Correspondence
2 Programs, reviews, production photographs
Gesture, TV play, unproduced, 1985?
3 Holograph script
4 Carbon typescript
Goodbye to Berlin, musical based on two stories "The Berlin Stories" and "Mr. Norris Changes Trains" by Christopher Isherwood, unproduced, 1963
5-6 Holograph script
7 Carbon typescript
8 Correspondence, 1963-67
His Monkey Wife, musical based on novel by John Collier, 1971
box folder
6 1 Lyrics and notes
2-3 Script and notes
4 Script with lyrics and re-writes
5 Carbon typescript, first version
6 Final version, Hampstead Theatre Club
7 Correspondence, programs, and reviews
I Could Be Happy, autobiography, 1975
8 Notes; also notes for play "The Illusionists"
9 Discard chapter, "What Next?," typescript
10 Correspondence and contract
The Illusionists, unproduced play, 1975
[see also notes in notebook with I Could Happy]
box folder
7 1-2 Holograph script
3 Carbon typescript, 1974?
In the Mink, unproduced play, 1959-61
4 Notes and research, 1960-61
5-7 Holograph script, 1959-60
8 Carbon typescript, 1960
9 Listen to the Birds, revue lyrics and sketches, 1946-48 for Oxford Experimental Theatre Club and Old Vic Theatre School; musical play based on The Birds by Aristophanes
Lydia Languish, [ The Rivals], operetta based on Richard Brinsley Sheridan's comedy The Rivals
box folder
8 1 Carbon typescript, "A Musical Play,"1948-49
2 Programs, 1982 Theatre Royal, Bury St. Edmunds
My Royal Past, musical based on the book by Cecil Beaton, unproduced, 1955
3 Act I
4 Act II
5 Duplicated typescript
6 Not in the Brochure, script, 1980s,
TV play based on short story "Luxury Tour" by SW in The Poodle From Rome
7 Now It Can Be Told, carbon typescript, unproduced, 1940
Oh, Henry!, musical based on the film Private Life of Henry VIII, unproduced, 1955
8-9 Holograph script
10 Final scenes and lyrics; with "The Buccaneer," new lyrics and dialogue for second production
11 1st script, typescript, top copy, 1955
12 Duplicated typescript
Oxford's Not What It Used To Be, unfinished, unpublished novel
1st version, 1948?
box folder
9 1-2 Holograph ms.
3 Typescript
2nd version, 1963
4 Holograph notes
5-6 Holograph ms.
7 Typescript, top copy
box folder
10 1 Pure Filth, unpublished ms., 1960
The Rivals see Lydia Languish
2 Sandy Wilson Thanks the Ladies, correspondence, programs, and reviews
3 Siren Song, musical based on the novel Extraordinary Women by Compton Mackenzie, holograph script, unproduced
This Is Sylvia, illustrated book, 1955
4 Typescript and illustrations
5 Reviews and publicity
Valmouth, musical based on the novel by Ronald Firbank
6 Score, holograph ms.
7 Lyrics, 1958
8-9 Holograph ms., 1958
box folder
11 1 Holograph ms.; record reviews and article on Christmas
2 Final scenes; with article "The British Musical" and Cambridge Union Debate, "There's No Business Like Show Business,"1957
3 Last scene of Act II, 2nd version; with record reviews, 1955-57; Revue lyrics ( "Pieces of Eight") 1959; talk on musicals
4 Original version, typescript, top copy, 1958
5 First version, act one, typescript, top copy, 1958
6 Final version, duplicated typescript, 1958
7 TV version (Granada), holograph ms., unproduced
8 Correspondence, 1957-76
9 Chichester, 1982,
correspondence, programs and reviews
10 Programs
11 Talks
A Wave in the Sea, play based on the life of Isadora Duncan, unproduced, 1944
box folder
12 1 Holograph script
2 Carbon typescript
The Way We Are, play, unproduced, 1958
3-4 Holograph script
5 Typescript, top copy
6 The Web, playscript, unproduced, 1943
Subseries B. Notebooks and Drafts, 1936-1981
7 "Enter Aunt Edith," scenes from a lost play, 1936; "Aren't people strange?," unfinished novel, 1940
8 Untitled, unproduced play, 1945
box folder
13 1 Unfinished short stories: "Nobody blames anybody" (1949) and untitled (1950?)
2 Two untitled, unproduced plays, 1950
3 Notes for unfinished novel; lyrics for revue and cabaret, 1950-53; lyrics for "The Buccaneer" 1953
[see related material above]
4 Revue sketches and lyrics, 1951-52
5 Talk, Oxford (O.U.E.T.C.), typescript, 1955
6 Talk, Cambridge Union, typescript, 1957?
7 Script for TV excerpts from Oh, Henry!, 1958
8-10 Short stories from The Poodle from Rome, 1962
11 Notes and scene from untitled play, 1965; Notes for musical based on "The Last of Mrs. Cheyney," and notes for musical "Amy" based on life of Amy Johnson, both unproduced, 1967
12 Notes on Paris production "Le Boy Friend;" subtitles for Louis Malle's "Viva Maria" and lyrics; talk for World Radio; sundry notes, 1965,
13 Lyrics and notes for "Amy,"1966-67
box folder
14 1 Talks, 1969-70
2 Untitled memoir of schooldays, prep-school and Harrow, unpublished, 1970
3 Theater reviews ( Plays and Players); notes for "Between the Wars," unpublished 1973,
4 Notes for "Ivor" (novello), 1975; Notes for "The Roaring 20s,"1976; theater reviews, 1970s and 1980s ( Plays and Players and Plays International)
5 Talk, Streatham; typescript, 1981
6 Articles and talks, typescripts, n.d.
7 Scripts, various titles, holograph ms. and typescripts, unfinished or unproduced, n.d.

Series II. Career-Related Material

box folder
14 8 Articles by and about SW
9 Clippings, 1970s-1990s
box folder
15 1 Photographs, production and informal, 1947-1984
2 Programs, various performances, including "As Dorothy Parker Once Said..." and revues
[removed to oversize, Box 18]
[unfoldered bound volume]
[unfoldered bound volume]
box folder
16 1 Sheet music, holograph, 1940s-1960s,
including "See You Later" and "See You Again"
2-3 Songs and sketches, holograph and typescript ms.

Series III. Correspondence, 1953-1996

box folder
17 1 A-K
2 L-P
3 P-Z
4 Fan mail
5 re: "Ivor" [SW's biography of Ivor Novello] and re: caricaturist Einar Nerman
6 Rees, Joan
18 Oversize