Lawrence Langner papers
Scope and Contents
The collection includes writings, correspondence, subject files, and other materials relating to Lawrence Langner's work as an author, theatre producer, and patent attorney. Writings include plays ( Suzanna and the Elders and The Pursuit of Happiness among others); articles on various aspects of theatre and patent law; and books, including his autobiography, The Magic Curtain, The Importance of Wearing Clothes, and G.B.S. and the Lunatic. Correspondence, subject files, and financial records relate to the writing, production, and publication of Langner's writings; his work with the Theatre Guild; his law firm; and the National Inventors Council, among other topics. Typescript iterations of plays including A Moon for the Misbegotten and Strange Interlude by Eugene O'Neill, inscribed by O'Neill to Langner, are also included. Correspondence between Bernard Shaw and Langner relating to the production of Shaw plays by the Theatre Guild; annotated proofs of Back to Methuselah, Geneva, and St. Joan; and a typescript article by Shaw form the final group of material in the papers.
- 1913 - 1983
- Majority of material found within 1920 - 1962
Conditions Governing Access
The materials are open for research.
Box 118: Restricted fragile material. For further information consult the appropriate curator.
Conditions Governing Use
The Lawrence Langner 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
Bequest of Lawrence Langner, 1964.
The collection is organized in four groupings: I. 1964 Acquisition, 1917-1963. II. Material Formerly Part of the Eugene O’Neill Papers, 1913-1963. III. Material Formerly Part of the Theatre Guild Archive, 1914-1983. IV. Material Formerly Classed as MS Vault Shelves Shaw, 1921-1938.
47.8 Linear Feet ((119 boxes) + 1 broadside folder)
Language of Materials
The papers include writings, correspondence, subject files, photographs and other materials relating to Lawrence Langner's work as an author, theater producer, and patent attorney. Writings include plays (Suzanna and the Elders and The Pursuit of Happiness, among others); articles on various aspects of theatre and patent law; and books, including his autobiography, The Magic Curtain; The Importance of Wearing Clothes; and G.B.S. and the Lunatic. Correspondence, subject files, and financial records relate to the writing, production, and publication of Langner's writings; his work with the Theatre Guild; his law firm; and the National Inventors Council, among other topics. Typescript iterations of plays including A Moon for the Misbegotten and Strange Interlude by Eugene O'Neill, inscribed by O'Neill to Langner, are also included. Correspondence between Bernard Shaw and Langner relating to the production of Shaw plays by the Theatre Guild; annotated proofs of Back to Methuselah, Geneva, and St. Joan; and a typescript article by Shaw form the final group of material in the papers.
Lawrence Langner was born in Swansea, South Wales in 1890, and immigrated to the United States in 1903. After settling in New York City, as a young man he studied patent law and was involved in New York theatre, assisting in establishing and writing plays for the Washington Square Players and The Provincetown Players, among others. With a small group of other New York theatre devotees Langner established the Theatre Guild in 1918. Langner spent the remainder of his life as co-director of the Guild with Theresa Helburn, producing stage, radio, and television shows and introducing important playwrights, directors, and actors as well as innovative stage techniques to American audiences. In 1931 Langner and his wife, Armina Marshall, established the Westport Country Playhouse near their home in Connecticut, and he founded the American Shakespeare Festival Theatre and Academy in Stratford, Connecticut, in 1951. In addition to his work in the performing arts, he was a senior partner in the law firm of Langner, Parry, Card and Langner, and was a leader in the field of patent law. A prolific writer of plays, articles, and books, Langner's autobiography, The Magic Curtain: the Story of a Life in Two Fields, Theatre and Invention, was published in 1951. He died in New York in 1962.
Collections are processed to a variety of levels, depending on the work necessary to make them usable, their perceived research value, the availability of staff, competing priorities, and whether or not further accruals are expected. The library attempts to provide a basic level of preservation and access for all collections, and does more extensive processing of higher priority collections as time and resources permit.
The collection is comprised of material formerly classed as Uncat ZA Langner and MS Vault Shelves Shaw. Additional Langner papers were identified in the Eugene O'Neill Papers (YCAL MSS 123) the Theatre Guild Archive (YCAL MSS 436) and material classed as MS Vault Shelves Shaw during the processing of those papers. These materials have not been merged and organized as a whole, but are described separately in the contents list below, according to the source of acquisition.
Information included in the Description of Papers note and Collection Contents section is drawn from information supplied with the collection and 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 finding aid may be updated periodically to account for new acquisitions to the collection and/or revisions in arrangement and description.
- Authors -- United States -- 20th century
- Authors, American -- 20th Century -- Archives
- Langner, Lawrence, 1890-1962
- National Inventors Council (U.S.)
- O'Neill, Eugene, 1888-1953
- Patent laws and legislation -- United States
- Patent lawyers -- United States
- Patent lawyers -- United States -- 20th Century
- Shaw, Bernard, 1856-1950
- Theater -- Production and direction -- New York (State) -- New York
- Theater -- United States
- Theatre Guild
- Theatrical producers and directors -- United States
- Theatrical producers and directors -- United States -- 20th century
- Guide to the Lawrence Langner Papers
- Under Revision
- Beinecke Staff
- January 2013
- 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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New Haven, CT 06511
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