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Archives and collections

The Samuel Storey Writing and Performance Collection

Extremely generous funding from the Samuel Storey Trust has enabled the development in the University Library of a major archive - the Samuel Storey Writing and Performance Collection - which vastly enriches Writing, Directing and Performance teaching and research.

Key facts

  • Work on developing the Collection began in January 2003
  • It has two main features, the first of which is the acquisition of as wide an assembly of playscripts, and related secondary material, as possible
  • The Collection now contains (as of 25/04/07) 4,698 volumes, and new titles are added almost daily
  • We aim to buy a copy of every new play currently being published in English, but also to ensure that the Collection offers outstanding resources for work on earlier periods of the drama


The archive's second dimension consists of its rapidly growing manuscript holdings.

The focus of the MA's work on the processes which link scripts to performance makes it imperative that we should be able to study at first hand writers' redraftings of their work and their negotiations with the other key professionals involved in the production of their plays. Such material is rarely published, so the Samuel Storey Collection is designed to house the archives of major writers and make them available for study. For example, multiple drafts of the play, documents recording fraught negotiations with the censor, and correspondence with the directors and companies responsible for different productions of it, have been explored in MA seminars on Charles Wood's controversial anti-war play Dingo .

Since January 2003 this aspect of the Collection has grown as swiftly as its book holdings. It now includes the complete archives of the following writers:

Charles Wood, whose distinguished career spans, from the early 1960s to the present, writing for theatre, film and television. His film work ranges from Help! (the second Beatles film, directed by Richard Lester, 1965) and The Charge of the Light Brigade (with John Gielgud and Vanessa Redgrave, directed by Tony Richardson, 1968) to, most recently, Iris (with Judi Dench, Kate Winslett, and Jim Broadbent, directed by Richard Eyre, 2003). His plays-  including Cockade, Dingo, H, or, Monologues in Front of Burning Cities, Veterans, and Fill The Stage with Happy Hours - have attracted the talents of such actors as John Gielgud, Albert Finney, John Mills, Glenda Jackson, and Nigel Hawthorne, and have been premiered by the National Theatre, Royal Shakespeare Company, and the English Stage Company at the Royal Court.

David Storey, who is a highly distinguished novelist and playwright and has won critical accolades and prestigious awards for both aspects of his writing career. His most famous plays include Home, The Contractor, In Celebration, The Changing Room, Life Class, and The Restoration of Arnold Middleton. He also wrote the screenplay for the film version (with Richard Harris and Rachel Roberts, directed by Lindsay Anderson, 1963) of his celebrated first novel, This Sporting Life. Other highly praised, and prize-inning, novels by him include Flight into Camden, Radcliffe, and Saville, for which he was awarded the Booker Prize for Fiction in 1976.

Laurence Marks and Maurice Gran, who together form the outstanding television comedy-writing partnership of the last twenty years, and who, in addition to scripting a impressive array of work in other television genres and writing for the stage, have been responsible for such long-running and influential comedy successes as Shine On Harvey Moon , The New Statesman, Birds of a Feather, and Goodnight Sweeheart. They also regularly give masterclasses on scriptwriting - for example, as part of BBC 3's The Last Laugh competition at the BBC Learning Centre. From autumn 2006 they will be giving masterclasses at the University of York as part of the Comedy Laboratory Initiative.

Julia Pascal, the Department of English and Related Literature's writer-in-residence in 2001, the first woman to direct a production at the National Theatre, and a highly praised playwright. Her best-known plays include The Holocaust Trilogy , The Yiddish Queen Lear , and Crossing Jerusalem . She directed York students in a performance of her play The Golem ahead of its London premiere, which she also directed. She will be writing to York for masterclasses with Writing, Directing and Performance students.

Peter Whelan, whose highly successful playwriting career is especially associated with the Royal Shakespeare Company, which has premiered almost all his most acclaimed plays, including Captain Swing, The Accrington Pals, The School of Night , The Herbal Bed, and A Russian in the Woods, with casts headed by such actors as Alan Rickman, Zoe Wanamaker, Richard McCabe, and Joseph Fiennes.

Further major acquisitions for the Samuel Storey Writing and Performance Collection will soon be announced.