The Beinecke Library has acquired the papers of Donald Margulies, the Pulitzer Prize-winning American playwright.
“We are thrilled to add the papers of Donald Margulies, a playwright of humor and complexity, sharp observation and deep pathos, to the Yale Collection of American Literature,” says Melissa Barton, curator of prose and drama for the Yale Collection of American Literature, which is housed at the Beinecke.
Margulies, an adjunct professor of English and theater studies at Yale University, began writing plays in the 1970s. His plays explore themes like family life, the culture of the arts, and American Jewish identity. His play “Dinner with Friends” was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 2000. His plays “Sight Unseen” and “Collected Stories” were finalists for the Pulitzer in 1992 and 1997, respectively. He wrote the screenplay for “The End of the Tour,” a 2015 adaption of David Lipsky’s memoir about a road trip with author David Foster Wallace.
The archive includes broad-ranging materials, such as drafts, notes, correspondence, logs of telephone calls, journals, and notebooks. Materials date from the 1950s through the present, with the majority relating to projects from the 1980s through 2014.
“I am truly honored to have my papers housed in such a hallowed institution,” says Margulies.
He expressed a hope that his records and lists, which he confessed “some might call obsessive,” would illuminate the daily life of a working contemporary playwright, as well as the regional theatre movement in the 1980s.
The papers, which will be open for research in the spring of 2016, provide insight into historical trends; for example, they paint a picture of changing communication and technology at the turn of the century.
“Word processing was a boon to rewriting,” Margulies says.
Researchers will have access to notes and drafts from more than 20 of Margulies’ published and unpublished plays, including not only “Sight Unseen” and “Collected Stories,” but also “Brooklyn Boy,” “Shipwrecked! An Entertainment,” “The Model Apartment,” and “Time Stands Still.” Materials related to his other projects, such as screenplays and notes for screen or stage adaptations, are also well-represented. Notably, these materials illuminate elements of his writing process.
Margulies’ correspondence will also be of interest to researchers; the archive includes letters from colleagues, directors, actors, and writers. Letters range in content from the personal to the professional, and often illuminate facets of Margulies’ career and work. In addition, readers may browse more curious ephemera, such as Margulies’ junior high school graduation program, drawings he made in high school, and a folder he labeled “things that caught my eye.”
His archive joins the Beinecke’s extraordinary holdings of American playwrights’ papers, including Eugene O’Neill, Thornton Wilder, and contemporaries A.R. Gurney, John Guare, and Paula Vogel.