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Barrett H. Clark papers

Call Number: YCAL MSS 569

Scope and Contents

The Barrett H. Clark Papers document the work of American writer, editor, and translator, Barrett H. Clark, spanning the dates 1905 to 1953. The papers contain correspondence, writings, personal papers, photographs, and printed material providing insight into Clark's scholarship on drama.

Clark's intellectual circle, creative life, and work for the Samuel French company are reflected in his correspondence and writings. The Correspondence series provides insight into Clark's relationships with a number of playwrights and other authors, including Sherwood Anderson, Philip Barry, Stephen Vincent Benet, Rachel Field, Dorothy and DuBose Heyward, Sinclair Lewis, George Bernard Shaw, Upton Sinclair, Betty Smith, and Thornton Wilder. In addition, Clark's correspondence reflects his work with prominent figures in theatre, from producers and directors to actors, including Theresa Helburn, Robert Edmond Jones, Lawrence Langner, J. H. Benrimo, and William Gillette. Clark's interest in European drama is reflected in his correspondence with French and German playwrights Romain Rolland, Ernst Toller, and Fritz von Unruh. In the early 1920s Clark wrote an article about Maksim Gorki, as his correspondence with Marie Budberg, on behalf of Gorki, and related photographs illustrate.

Most notably, a number of documents trace Clark's relationship with Eugene O'Neill. In addition to his correspondence with O'Neill, the papers also include letters from O'Neill's wives Agnes Boulton O'Neill and Carlotta Monterey O'Neill. The Papers also contains Clark's drafts of his biography Eugene O'Neill, including proofs with corrections by O'Neill. The Printed Material series also includes documents relating to O'Neill, such as photographs, clippings, and pamphlets.

The Writings series is comprised of notes and drafts documenting Clark's writing as well as the writings of others. Drafts and proofs of Clark's Eugene O'Neill, memoir Professor Clark , and other works are included in the Writings series. A number of Clark's translations are also part of the Writings series, such as Jules Renard's Goodbye! and Pierre Wolff's Unhoodwinkable. Shorter publications by Clark are located in the Printed Material series. The Writings series also contains some correspondence relating to specific publications. In addition to Clark's writings the series also contains several works by Paul Green, Edgar Lee Masters, George Moore, and Lynn Riggs.

The Printed Material series contains publications on court cases (largely pertaining to copyright and plagiarism), scrapbooks of clippings and loose clippings relating to Clark and his writings, and various authors' published plays and short stories.


  • 1905-1953


Conditions Governing Access

The materials are open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

The Barrett H. Clark Papers is the physical property of the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University. Literary rights, including copyright, belong to the authors or their legal heirs and assigns. For further information, consult the appropriate curator.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Purchased from Cecile Smith Clark on the Eugene O'Neill Fund, 1971.


Organized into three series: I. Correspondence, 1905-1952. II. Writings, 1911-1953. III. Printed Material, 1915-1953.


12.09 Linear Feet (32 boxes)

Language of Materials


Catalog Record

A record for this collection is available in Orbis, the Yale University Library catalog

Persistent URL


The Barrett H. Clark Papers document the work of American writer, editor, translator, and drama scholar, Barrett H. Clark, spanning the dates 1905 to 1953. The papers contain correspondence, writings, personal papers, photographs, and printed material providing insight into Clark's scholarship on drama. Correspondents include: Maksim Gorky, Paul Green, Eugene O'Neill, and Betty Smith.

Barrett Harper Clark (1890-1953)

Writer, editor, and actor, Barrett Harper Clark was born on August 26, 1890 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada to S. Henry and Anna M. Fralick Clark. Clark studied at the University of Chicago (1908-1912), spending two years in Paris, but did not complete his degree. While still a student Clark began teaching drama at Chautauqua, New York (1909-1917), an educational summer camp for adults. He also taught at Columbia University and Bryn Mawr (1928-1931).

Following graduation Clark worked as an actor and assistant stage manager in a company run by Minnie Maddern Fiske (1912-1913). Clark then worked as a literary editor for Samuel French, a company specializing in publishing drama, in New York (1918-1936). During this period Clark also served as the dramatic editor of Drama Magazine (1924-1931) and as a member of the board of directors for the Drama League America (1915-1926). When the U.S. entered WWI Clark served as the dramatic director at Camp Humphreys, Virginia, a U.S. military training camp. In 1936 Clark left Samuel French to become the executive director of the Dramatists Play Service.

In 1916 Clark married Cecile Matilda Smith, with whom he had three children: Nancy, Molly, and Barrett.

Throughout his life Clark sustained a writing career. Early in his career he translated into English a number of plays by French authors: Hervieu’s The Labyrinth (1913), Three Modern Plays from the French (1914), Four Plays of the Free Theater (1914), Four Plays of Emile Augier (1915), Three Plays of Donnay (1916), Sardou’s Patrie! (1915), Hyacinthe-Loyson’s Apostle (1916), Curel’s False Saint (1916), and Brieux’s Artists’ Families (1918), among others.

He wrote a number of books about drama, including: The Continental Drama of Today (1914), British and American Drama of Today (1915), Contemporary French Dramatists (1915), Study of the Modern Drama (1925), and An Hour of American Drama (1930). Clark also wrote a practical manual, How to Produce Amateur Plays (1917-25), which provided guidance for laypeople producing plays. In his chapbook, Speak the Speech (1930), Clark considers "standard English" and its impact on theatre. In Oedipus or Pollyanna (1927) Clark argues against censorship, re-visiting an issue he had earlier explored in Jurgen and the Censor (1919). Clark published an article about Eugene O'Neill in the New York Sun (May 18, 1919), and after this initial acquaintance, he went on to write a biography Eugene O’Neill (1926) and Eugene O’Neill Bibliography (with R. Sanborn) (1931). In 1928 Clark published Professor Clark, a Memoir.

Clark also edited the fifty-eight volume World’s Best Plays (1915-1926) and was the first editor of America's Lost Plays (1940-1965), a twenty volume series that brought attention to obscure plays by American dramatists from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Clark edited and co-edited a number of other works pertaining to theatre, including: Walter Prichard Eaton’s Plays and Players (1916), Masterpieces of Modern Spanish Drama (1917), European Theories of the Drama (1918), Representative One Act Plays by British and Irish Authors (1921), One-Act Plays (1929), Favorite American Plays of the 19th Century (1943), and Nine Modern American Plays (1951).

Clark died on August 5, 1953 in Briarcliff, New York.

Processing Information

This collection received a basic level of processing, including rehousing and minimal organization, in 2012.

Information included in the Description of Papers note and Collection Contents section is drawn from information supplied with the collection from an initial survey of the contents. Folder titles appearing in the contents list below are often based on those provided by the creator or previous custodian. Titles have not been verified against the contents of the folders in all cases. Otherwise, folder titles are supplied by staff during basic processing.

This collection includes materials previously identified by the following call numbers: Za Clark, Uncat Ms Vault 814, Za C546 +1, Za C546 +2, Za C546 +3, and Za C546 +S1.

Guide to the Barrett H. Clark Papers
by Beinecke Staff
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Part of the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library Repository

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