A PLAY TO BE PLAYED: John Steinbeck on Stage and Screen, 1935-1960


New York, September 30, 2002 "A Play To Be Played": John Steinbeck on Stage and Screen, 1935-1960 is on display in the Kempner Exhibition Gallery, Butler Library, 6th Floor, East, through November 15, 2002. The exhibit, part of the 'Steinbeck Centennial Celebration' events in New York festivities, is drawn primarily from the Columbia Rare Book and Manuscript Library's exceedingly rich collection of books and papers donated by Annie Laurie Williams in 1971.

Among the items on display are: letters, telegrams, scripts and screenplays written by Steinbeck relating to stage and screen versions of Tortilla Flat, Of Mice and Men, The Grapes of Wrath, Lifeboat, Viva Zapata!, Cannery Row, A Medal for Benny, East of Eden, as well as the never-produced Wizard of Maine, The Vikings, and Christopher Columbus.

As a member of the firm of McIntosh and Otis, John Steinbeck's literary agent (the firm that continues to oversee his literary rights today), Annie Laurie Williams worked closely with Steinbeck until his death in 1968, overseeing all drama and motion picture rights for his works.

In addition to Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men and The Grapes of Wrath, she also handled the negotiations formany other famous film scripts, including Margaret Mitchell's Gone With the Wind. Her collection is just one of a number of important collections of the archives of literary agents held by Columbia's Rare Book and Manuscript Library.

John Steinbeck's talents were uniquely suited to his times,and to movies and the Broadway stage. Although sometimes panned by critics, his books and films were popular successes that seemed to speak directly to the broad, heterogeneous audiences they addressed. At once sentimental and tough, they seemed to inspire directors and actors to do their finest work.

At least two of Steinbeck's films, Of Mice and Men and The Grapes of Wrath, have achieved the status of classics; others - Lifeboat, Viva Zapata!, East of Eden -are firmly part of the canon. Also on display are film stills,posters and lobby cards for all of these films and more.

The Rare Book and Manuscript Library, located on the 6th Floor East of the Columbia University Butler Library, at 535 West 114th Street at Broadway,New York, is home to over 600,000 rare books, 28 million manuscripts filed in 3,000 separate collections, 75,000 photographs, and 40,000 prints and drawings. In addition to printed and manuscript resources, the library contains cuneiform tablets, papyri, maps, works of art, posters, sound recordings and other interesting objects and materials. The library's website with collections and service information is: http://www.columbia.edu/cu/lweb/indiv/rmbl/index.html.

For more information:

Jenny Lee
Public Services & Programs Librarian
Rare Book & Manuscript Library
(212) 854-4048

Link for directions and access to the Kempner Gallery.

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Written by KRS 10/01/02