Lennox Robinson papers, 1892-1954
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Brief Description:

The Lennox Robinson Collection contains several correspondence series, 40 play manuscripts including, in most cases, multiple drafts, 3 short stories, much of his non-fiction writings as well as his scrapbook of newspaper clippings and playbills.  In the latter boxes there are some manuscripts of lesser-known writers Robinson collected himself.  Nearly every aspect of this series has to do with Robinson's involvement in Irish Theatre.

Included in the correspondence are the William Butler Yeats letters, the Lay Gregory letters, as well as letters from AE, George Bernard Shaw, Shawn O'Casey, Gerard Fey, Sean O'Faolain, Nora Robinson, Oliver, St. J. Gogarty, And James Stephens.  The letters date, in general, from 1909 to 1954, but also include several postcards sent to his wife Dolly, after his death.

The manuscripts of Robinson's plays include drafts of his earliest plays like Harvest, the more well-known plays like The Clancy Name, White-Headed Boy, The Big House, and The Lost Leader.  The play manuscripts are in carious stages of drafting and completion.  Consequently, they provide an illuminating glimpse into Robinson's composing process from the earliest, roughest sketches through to the final polished products.  He appeared to be continually revising even as he directed the plays on stage.

The non-fiction writings consist of 43 of Robinson's "At the Play" columns as well as several of his essays on Irish topics.  Drafts of his partially autobiographical novel The Boy from Ballineen are collected here.  In addition, this series contains 11 of the "I Sometimes Think" manuscripts as well as over 20 other essays on primarily Irish artists.  These non-fiction manuscripts give insight into Robinson's opinions about theatre and the interplay between director, writer, and actor/actress.  A series of lecture notes, in various staged of completion, show how Robinson approached historically the subject of the Irish Theatre.

Finally, there are three scrapbooks of press cutting, play programs, and posters from the years of Robinson's activity with the Abbey Theatre.

Held at:
Southern Illinois University Special Collections Research Center
605 Agriculture Dr.
MC 6632
Carbondale, IL 62901
Phone: 618-453-2516
Fax: 618-453-3451
Email: speccoll [at] lib.siu.edu
Record Series Number: 1/4/MSS 091
Created by: Robinson, Lennox, (1886-1958.)
Volume: 18.0 Boxes
Acquired: 00/00/1960.
Arrangement: Organized into six series:  (1) William Yeats correspondence, (2) General correspondence, (3) Fiction writings, (4) Non fiction writings, (5)  Miscellaneous manuscripts and scrapbooks, and (6) Lady Gregory and Robinson correspondence.
Biographical Note for Robinson, Lennox, (1886-1958.) :

Esmé Stuart Lennox Robinson (October 4, 1886 - October 15, 1958) was an Irish dramatist, poet and theatre producer and director who was involved with the Abbey Theatre.

Robinson was born and raised in County Cork in a Protestant and Unionist family. His father was a middle-class stockbroker who in 1892 decided to become a clergyman in the Church of Ireland. A sickly child, Robinson was educated by private tutor and at Bandon Grammar School. In August 1907 his interest in the theatre began after he went to see an Abbey production of plays by W. B. Yeats and Lady Gregory at the Cork Opera House. He published his first poem that same year.

His first play, The Cross Roads was performed in the Abbey in 1909 and he became Manager of the theatre towards the end of that year. He resigned in 1914 as a result of a disastrous tour of the United States but returned in 1919. He was appointed to the board of the theatre in 1923 and continued to serve in that capacity until his death.

As a playwright, Robinson showed himself as a nationalist with plays like Patriots (1912) and Dreamers (1915). On the other hand, he belonged to a part of Irish society which was not seen as fully Irish. This division between the "pure" Catholic Irish on one side and the Anglo-Irish on the other can be seen in a play such as The Big House (1926), which depicts a burning of such a Protestant manor by Irregulars, or extreme Republicans.

Robinson's most popular play was The Whiteheaded Boy (1916). His fiction includes Eight Short Stories (1919). In 1951 he published Ireland's Abbey Theatre, the first full-length history of the company.

Access Restrictions: Unrestricted access.
Subject Index
Abbey Theatre
Authors, Irish
English literature - Irish authors - 20th century
Robinson, Lennox, 1886-1958.
Genres/Forms of Material
Gregory, Lady, 1852-1932 - Correspondence
O'Casey, Sean 1880-1964. - Correspondence
Shaw, Bernard, 1856-1950 - Correspondence
Yeats, W. B. (William Butler), 1865-1939 - Correspondence
Languages of Materials
English [eng]
Rights/Use Restrictions: To quote in print, or otherwise reproduce in whole or in part in any publication, including on the World Wide Web, any material from this collection, the researcher must obtain permission from (1) the owner of the physical property and (2) the holder of the copyright.  Persons wishing to quote from this collection should consult Special Collections Research Center to determine copyright holders for information in this collection.  Reproduction of any item must contain the complete citation to the original.
Acquisition Notes: Purchased.  Purchased some letters and 1 manuscript from John Wilson 2003.
Related Materials: Lennox Robinson papers, Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library, Emory University, Atlanta, GA
PreferredCitation: [after identification of item(s)], Lennox Robinson papers, Special Collections Research Center, Morris Library, Southern Illinois University Carbondale.