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Samuel Beckett Papers

Identifier: MS-MS-ms008

This collection's strengths are in manuscripts of works Beckett wrote during the 1960's. Among the highlights 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 the novel Watt; and the successive drafts for Play/Comedie. Also, the Beckett Papers contain the correspondence between the bookseller, Henry Wenning, and Beckett, which spans 1960-1971, some photographs and illustrations of Beckett, many of Beckett's notebooks, and photocopies of Beckett manuscripts from the University of Reading.


  • 1946 - 1980


Conditions Governing Access


Conditions Governing Use

Users of the collection must read and agree to abide by the rules and procedures set forth in the Materials Use Policies.

Providing access to materials does not constitute permission to publish or otherwise authorize use. All publication not covered by fair use or other exceptions is restricted to those who have permission of the copyright holder, which may or may not be Washington University.

If you wish to publish or license Special Collections materials, please contact Special Collections to inquire about copyright status at (314) 935-5495 or (Publish means quotation in whole or in part in seminar or term papers, theses or dissertations, journal articles, monographs, books, digital forms, photographs, images, dramatic presentations, transcriptions, or any other form prepared for a limited or general public.)


3.5 linear feet

7 boxes

Biographical or Historical Information

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.

Method of Acquisition

Accession number 766, purchased from Henry Wenning, 1966: August 3

Accession number 767, purchased from Bertram Rota Ltd, 1966: August 3 Accession number 768, gift of Henry Wenning, 1966: August 4

Accession number 770 (1180), purchsed from Henry Wenning, 1966: August 11

Accession number 846, Henry Wenning, 1967: July Accession number 854, Henry Wenning, 1967: August 30

Accession number 855, Henry Wenning, 1967: August 31

Accession number 1180, purchased from Mrs. Ethel Diamond, 1970: April 22

Accession number 1261, purchased from Mrs. Ethel Diamond, 1971: March 11

Accession number 1266, gift of Henry Wenning and Mrs. Ethel Diamond, 1971: March 19

Accession number 1268, gift of Samuel Beckett through Henry Wenning, 1971: March 26

Accession number 1281, gift of Henry Wenning, 1971: July 23

Accession number 1286, Henry Wenning, 1971: July 28

Accession number 1289, gift of Henry Wenning, 1971: July 28

Accession number 1612, gift of Ruby Cohn, 1981: March

Accession number 1626, Avigdor Arikha, 1984: September 1984

Accession number MSS2016-009, purchase from Brian Cassidy, 2016: April 18

Accession number MSS2016-016, purchase from Brian Cassidy, 2016: May 10

Accession number MSS2018-011, purchase from Peter Grogan, 2018: May 8

Related Materials

See also the Samuel Beckett Ephemera (VMF014), the Samuel Beckett Posters (VMF233), and the Lord John Press Collection (MSS155).



Samuel Beckett Papers
Description rules
Language of description

Revision Statements

  • 2020 August 14: Resource record updated in ArchiveSpace by Sarah Schnuriger.

Collecting Area Details

Part of the Manuscripts Collecting Area

Joel Minor
Olin Library, 1 Brookings Drive
MSC 1061-141-B
St. Louis MO 63130 US
(314) 935-5495