Harry Ransom CenterThe University of Texas at Austin

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The Anatomy of an Archive:
Tom Stoppard

Tom Stoppard

Tom Stoppard, whose archive resides at the Harry Ransom Center, on The University of Texas at Austin campus in 1996.

The Harry Ransom Center, a humanities research library and museum at The University of Texas at Austin, advances the study of the arts and humanities by acquiring, preserving, and making accessible original cultural materials. With extensive collections of rare books, manuscripts, photography, film, art, and the performing arts, the Center supports research through symposia and fellowships and provides education and enrichment for scholars, students, and the public through exhibitions and programs.

The archive of British playwright Tom Stoppard was acquired by the Ransom Center in 1991, and Stoppard has made several subsequent additions to the collection. It includes typescripts of his many plays, handwritten manuscripts, page proofs, galley proofs, theater programs, photographs and negatives, advertising material, clippings of articles and reviews, correspondence, production files, and fan mail, among other items. Nearly all of Stoppard's major plays, screenplays, teleplays, and radio plays are represented in some form, along with many of his lesser-known works and some that were never produced.

The pictured items offer an example of the variety of materials in a writer's archive. Each of these items relates to Stoppard's play Arcadia, which opened to acclaim at the National Theatre in London on April 13, 1993.

Click on images to enlarge

Cast photo. Click to enlarge.

Tom Stoppard with the cast of Arcadia
after the Brussels production in 1993.
Photograph by Daniel Locus. © Locus.

Program. Click to enlarge.

Hand-corrected typescript of Tom
Stoppard's Arcadia. © Tom Stoppard.

Manuscript. Click to enlarge.

Programme" of Arcadia from the
premiere production at the National

Typescript. Click to enlarge.

Stoppard incorporated ideas related to
chaos theory and thermodynamics into
the intricately structured plot of the play.
While writing, Stoppard often consulted
with his son, a physics graduate student
at Oxford University, and with his son's
colleagues. This page from a faxed
explanation of the second law of
thermodynamics was written by Oxford
scientist Robert May. Courtesy of
Robert May.