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Manuscript Collection

Samuel Beckett, 1906-1989. Irish Author.

Samuel Beckett

Finding Aid for the Samuel Beckett Papers [MSS008]

Finding Aid for the Samuel Beckett Ephemera [VMF014]

Finding Aid for the Samuel Beckett Posters [VMF233]

Finding Aid for the Rick Cluchey Collection of Waiting for Godot Materials [VMF237]

Finding Aid for the Ruby Cohn Papers [MSS028]

Finding Aid for the Raymond Federman Collection [MSS044]

The Beckett Circle [External Link]

Samuel Beckett: Digital Manuscript Project [External Link]

Samuel Beckett was an Irish avant-garde novelist, playwright, theatre director, and poet, who lived in France for the most of his adult life. Writing in English and French, Beckett was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1969. His work offers a bleak, tragicomic outlook on human nature, often coupled with black comedy and gallows humor. His best-known play, Waiting for Godot (1953) is a comic study of philosophical uncertainty, and, like much of his work, focuses on the absurdity of human existence. Beckett graduated from Dublin's Trinity College in 1927 and settled in Paris, where he worked with James Joyce and published short stories and the novel Murphy (1938). During World War II, he joined the French Resistance and was eventually forced to leave Paris, but after the war he returned and wrote most of his important works, including the prose trilogy Molloy (1951), Malone Dies (Malone Meurt, 1951) and The Unnamable (L'Innommable, 1953), and the play Endgame (Fin de Partie, 1957). Never exactly mainstream, Beckett is nonetheless considered one of the most important European writers of the 20th century for his influence on modern literature and for his ability to impress, shock and confound.

Collection Description

The Samuel Beckett Papers consists of manuscripts of much of the work Beckett produced during the 1960's. Among the highlights of the Samuel Beckett Papers are the set of 16 drafts for the story "Bing." As well as extensive groups of drafts for short pose pieces such as "Assez," "Le Depeupler," and "Imagination morte imaginez;" the heavily revised galley proof of the Olympia Press edition of Watt; and the successive drafts for Play/Comedie.

The Samuel Beckett Papers also contains the correspondence between the bookseller, Henry Wenning, and Beckett, which spans 1960-1971. Wenning and Beckett developed a close friendship out of their initial business relationship. Their correspondence deals with a range of matters, from negotiations regarding the sale of manuscripts, Beckett's remarks on works in progress, his opinions of various productions of his plays, to more personal comments concerning his attitude toward his work or toward life. Together with the other manuscript materials in the Beckett Papers, this correspondence comprises a valuable record of some of the most productive years in the life of a leading 20th-century novelist and playwright.