With support from the Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation, the Ransom Center has completed a one-year project to create online access to four of its Performing Arts collections.
“Increasing access to the collections is one of our highest priorities at the Ransom Center,” said Eric Colleary, the Ransom Center’s Cline Curator of Theatre and Performing Arts. “These four archives provide rich perspectives of the American and British stage that are already proving useful to scholars and artists. My sincere thanks to archivists Amanda Reyes and Joan Sibley for their exceptional work on this project, and most especially to the Delmas Foundation for their continued support of arts and humanities research.”
Wilson Barrett (1848–1904) was one of the most commercially successful actor-managers of the late-nineteenth-century British stage. He was a friend and mentor to the playwright/critic George Bernard Shaw, and he introduced the internationally famous actress Helena Modjeska to British audiences. His papers include manuscripts of original and adapted plays, business and personal correspondence, extensive financial records and legal agreements, as well as photographs, playbills and programs relating to Barrett’s productions and tours. The correspondence files in this collection are a veritable “who’s who” of the British theatre world, including J. M. Barrie, Sir Hall Caine, Sir Johnston Forbes-Robertson, Samuel French, William Greet, Sir Henry Irving, Henry Arthur Jones, Helena Modjeska, Louis Napoleon Parker, Sir Arthur Wing Pinero, Clement William Scott, George Robert Sims, William Gorman Wills, and Sir Charles Wyndham.
John Gassner (1903–1967) was the preeminent theatre historian of the early twentieth century. His collection includes manuscripts and research notes for over 50 historical studies and anthologies that Gassner published during his lifetime. Works in the papers are supplemented by voluminous correspondence files, career and personal papers, and works by others. Among his numerous correspondents are Edward Albee, Stella Adler, Mordecai Gorelik, William Inge, Robinson Jeffers, Margo Jones, Elia Kazan, Arthur Miller, Sean O’Casey, Clifford Odets, Elmer Rice, George Bernard Shaw, and Ellen Terry.
Jule Styne (1905–1994) composed the music for many of the most popular American musicals from the 1940s through the 1960s and his papers include handwritten compositions for such musicals as Gypsy! and Funny Girl, and include songs that never appeared in the final productions and have never been published. In addition to music scores, Styne’s papers contain scripts, correspondence, and production records for his Broadway musicals and plays, documenting his collaborations with a variety of well-known figures. Present are letters from Louis Armstrong, Leonard Bernstein, Sammy Cahn, Betty Comden, Sammy Davis, Jr., Judy Garland, Hermione Gingold, Oscar Hammerstein II, Gypsy Rose Lee, Anita Loos, Jayne Mansfield, Ethel Merman, Harold Prince, Terence Rattigan, Jerome Robbins, Richard Rodgers, Stephen Sondheim, Thornton Wilder, and many others.
Hillary Bell (1857–1903) was an Irish-born portrait painter who moved to America and became a theatre critic for the New York Press. His collection includes manuscripts for his writings, correspondence, and a scrapbook of obituaries. Frequent correspondents include David Belasco, Kyrle Bellew, Augustin Daly, Daniel Frohman, Ramsay Morris, Louis and Olga Nethersole, Cora Urquhart Potter, and Lillian Russell.