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Ernst Toller papers

Call Number: MS 498
Scope and Contents

The Ernst Toller Papers make it possible to examine Toller's development as a political writer and speaker as well as a dramatist. The personal papers are concentrated in the last years of Toller's life, covering 1934 to 1939. Correspondence dates primarily from the year 1938. In addition, the personal papers include manuscript and typscript copies of Toller's plays written between 1935 and 1939.

A major feature of the Ernst Toller Papers is the nearly complete collection of Toller's plays in German and English translation. Also of special interest is a large collection of Toller's occasional pieces which originally appeared in newspapers and periodicals in several countries. These works span Toller's entire writing career. They were collected by John M. Spalek, editor of Toller's works, and have been brought together here in the Ernst Toller Papers.

Toller's fame before 1933 rested almost exclusively on his plays. Yet after 1930 Toller's political writings increased until in exile they actually exceeded his dramatic works. The papers as a whole reflect this trend, notably in the large amount of material devoted to Toller's involvement with the Spanish Relief Project.

In addition to Toller's own published and unpublished work, the papers contain valuable critical writings on Toller and his work.

For the most complete critical bibliography of works by and about Toller see John M. Spalek's Ernst Toller and His Critics, University Press of Virginia, Charlottesville, 1968.

The papers are arranged in three series and two additions: Series. I CORRESPONDENCE, MANUSCRIPTS AND MISCELLANEOUS ITEMS; Series II. PUBLISHED WORKS; Series III. WORKS ABOUT TOLLER.

Series I, CORRESPONDENCE, MANUSCRIPTS AND MISCELLANEOUS ITEMS, contains some correspondence concerning the publication of Toller's plays, but consists primarily of correspondence which deals with Toller's efforts to seek funds and support for his Spanish Relief Project in 1938. Correspondents of note include Hewlett Johnson, Dean of Canterbury, Cosmo Gordon Lang, Archbishop of Canterbury, Pablo Picasso, H.G. Wells and Frederic Wertham.

Series I also contains manuscripts of Toller's plays, articles, speeches and short stories. Most of the articles and speeches concern the Spanish Relief Project and Toller's opposition to Nazism.

The photographs in Series I include those of Toller alone and in groups, of Toller's theatrical productions, and photographs of war-torn Spain in 1938.

Materials in Series I concerning the Spanish Relief Project include statistics and reports on the food shortage in Spain, numerous newspaper clippings from various countries, and leaflets and memoranda.

At the end of Series I are various miscellaneous items.

Series II, PUBLISHED WORKS, is divided into two sections: Books and Plays and Miscellaneous Minor Works and Reprints. The latter contains a collection of the occasional works of Toller, and of portions of his works reprinted either in periodicals or in pamphlet form. Among the miscellaneous works are essays, speeches, newspaper and periodical articles, interviews with and newspaper articles about Toller. Included here are transcripts of his trial in Bavaria, 1918-1919. The works are mostly in German and English translation and are all electrostatic copies.

Series III, WORKS ABOUT TOLLER, includes books, dissertations and articles about Toller and his work. Also included are a student play based on Toller's life, and a poem written after Toller's death by W. H. Auden.

The Ernst Toller Papers were purchased by Yale University from Sidney Kaufman in 1954 and John M. Spalek in 1977.

Language of Materials

The materials are in English, German, and French.

Conditions Governing Access

The materials are open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Unpublished materials authored or otherwise produced by the creator(s) of this collection are in the public domain. There are no restrictions on use. Copyright status for other collection materials is unknown. Transmission or reproduction of materials protected by U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S.C.) beyond that allowed by fair use requires the written permission of the copyright owners. Works not in the public domain cannot be commercially exploited without permission of the copyright owners. Responsibility for any use rests exclusively with the user.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Purchased from Sidney Kaufman, 1954, and from John M. Spalek, 1977. Gift of Bert Kasties, 1991. Purchased from A Piece of History, 2011.


Arranged in three series and two additions: I. Correspondence, Manuscripts, Miscellaneous Items. II. Published Works. III. Works About Toller.

Majority of material found within 1933 - 1939
8.77 Linear Feet (29 boxes)
Related Names
Toller, Ernst, 1893-1939
Language of Materials