Document Reference NumberMS 237
TitleThe Orton Collection: records relating to Joe Orton, playwright (1933 - 1967)
DescriptionThe Orton Collection comprises the literary and personal papers of Leicester born playwright John 'Joe' Kingsley Orton (1 January 1933 - 9 August 1967). The collection includes correspondence, photographs, diary entries and newspaper cuttings relating to Orton's personal life, particularly: his family, education at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts (RADA), his 6 month imprisonment for stealing and defacing books from Islington Borough Library, and Orton's sexuality.

The literary papers of the collection trace Orton's career as firstly an (unsuccessful) novelist, and latterly an award winning playwright. Early drafts and unfinished works reveal Orton's creative writing process, whilst completed scripts with annotations by both Orton and theatre producers highlight the developmental process from script to stage. Theatre programmes, production photographs, scrapbooks and newspaper cuttings compliment staged productions of Orton's works, both contemporaneous and those staged posthumously. Correspondence between Orton and his agent Margaret 'Peggy' Ramsay, alongside correspondence with other literary contacts contextualise the theatre industry of the 1960s, whilst the 'Edna Welthorpe' letters and others penned under various pseudonyms depict Orton's sense of mischief. Within the Collection there also resides a small amount of material relating to Orton's partner Kenneth Halliwell, which has been assigned as a subfonds.

The Collection, purchased from the Orton Estate by the University of Leicester in 1997, is an amalgamation of original material and photocopies created by Orton and collated by his sister Leonie Barnett (nee Orton), his agent Margaret 'Peggy' Ramsay, biographer John Lahr and other unknown individuals. Additional material within the Collection includes that produced by Orton's associates, material created posthumously, and that identified as memorabilia. Contents therefore do not neccessarily reflect Orton's original order or records management, and consequentially have been disorganised throughout use and transfer of material prior to acquisition.
Date1928 - 2009
Extent2 vols, 15 files + 1149 items
Related MaterialPR17 Joe Orton Memorabilia
AccessConditionsSome material within Sections 7 and 8 may be unavailable for general access; researchers wishing to view this material must complete a green DPA disclaimer form
AccessStatusSome material may be unavailable for general access
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