Harry Ransom CenterThe University of Texas at Austin

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Fall 2008 Newsletter

The Anatomy of an Archive: Tom Stoppard

Cast photo. Click to enlarge.

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

Manuscript. Click to enlarge.

"Programme" of Arcadia from the
premiere production at the National

Program. Click to enlarge.

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

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.

In 2007 the Ransom Center published Collecting the Imagination: The First Fifty Years of the Ransom Center, a richly illustrated chronicle of its 50-year history, which is available for purchase in the online store. The following is an excerpt.

Every archive in the Ransom Center's collections is unique, yet most archives share some common elements—correspondence, a succession of manuscript and typescript drafts that show the evolution of a text, diaries, journals, business papers, page proofs, and other items related to the work of a writer or artist. Archives also often include photographs, artwork, books, and the occasional personal effects. These materials provide invaluable information to textual and bibliographic scholars, historians and philosophers, and other researchers. They serve as source material for new editions of works and for critical analyses. They also provide a wealth of interesting, and often revealing, materials for exhibitions.

The archive of British playwright Tom Stoppard was acquired by the 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 items displayed here 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.

View a description of Tom Stoppard's papers

Purchase Collecting the Imagination: The First Fifty Years of the Ransom Center

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