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Espy Williams Collection

Collection 20

Williams, Espy (1852-1908).  Collection, 1865-1908, 1969

3 feet

Espy Williams was one of Louisiana's best-known playwrights of the latter 19th and early 20th century. Descended from people who had long been prominent in education and law, Williams found it necessary to leave school to begin work in insurance and banking. He did some writing while establishing himself in business. By the time he was sixteen years old, he had written two plays. However, he destroyed them upon the advice of his father.

He printed his first play, “Eugene Aram" - a tragedy, when he was 22, and was still writing when he died at the age of 56 in 1908. The last play he wrote was "Marlowe: The Buried Name." The play was dated July 25, 1908, and has a note at the bottom of the last page: "Although an epilogue is promised, three years later, the manuscript ends here. Seemingly Williams did not live long enough to write it."

Williams traveled to many major cities throughout the United States and Europe, but New Orleans was his home. His plays and librettos were produced in London, Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York, Chicago, St. Louis and other large cities.

His tragedy "Unorna" was produced in London in 1902, making him the first New Orleanian to have a play produced in that city. He was also the first New Orleanian to have a work put on by the Metropolitan Opera Company when they produced his comic opera "A Royal Joke" in 1901.

He is the only Louisiana playwright listed in Who's Who in America from 1885 to 1920, and the only Louisiana literary figure listed in the 1905 edition of A Dictionary of American Authors.

This collection centers on the literary career of Espy Williams. It contains news clippings (primarily reviews), flyers and ads for Williams's works, a few photographs, correspondence, two diaries, poetry, essays, librettos, and plays by Williams.

Eunice Simonds Osgood (Mrs. Phillips E.) of Summit, New Jersey donated this collection.

Series:

A. News Clippings 1-01 and 1-02
B. Printed Publicity Material 1-03
C. Photographs 1-04
D. Correspondence 1-05
E. Diaries 1-06
F. Poetry by Espy Williams 1-07 through 1-11
G. Essays 1-12
H. Plays and Operas 2-01 through 6-11

Inventory:

A. News Clippings
1-01 News clippings, 1875-1969
    primarily reviews
1-02 News clippings, 1875-1969
    primarily reviews
     
B. Printed Publicity Material
1-03 Programs, flyers, ads, etc., 1875, 1889, 1901, 1902, n.d.
    includes material for:  PRINCE CARLOS; PARRHASIUS; MORBID VS. QUICK
     
C. Photographs
1-04 Photographs, 1866(?)-1908, n.d.
    includes photographs of:  Espy Williams; Prof. James Espy; two females; a book plate for Espy Williams
     
D. Correspondence
1-05 Correspondence, 1869-1902, n.d.
     
E. Diaries
1-06 Diaries (2) of Espy Williams, 1874-1875, 1878-1880
     
F. Poetry by Espy Williams
1-07 Poems, n.d.
    handwritten, in pencil, no title, 1 p.
    handwritten, in pencil, no title, 1 p., has handwritten note in ink, in reference to the author, "He died Aug. 8, after a prolonged illness"
1-08 THE DREAM OF ART AND OTHER POEMS [book of poetry], New York: The Knickerbocker Press (G. P. Putnam's Sons', 1892, bound, 100 pp.
1-09 A STATUTE'S TRAGEDY AND OTHER POEMS BY ESPY WILLIAMS, typewritten, unbound, 17 pp.
1-10 WAYSIDE THOUGHTS OR WILD-FLOWERS OF THE MIND.  A COLLECTION OF SELECT AND ORIGINAL POEMS AND MISCELLANEOUS PEICES [sic] 1865-1871, handwritten, bound, 127 pp.
1-11 Poems, 1869-1878, n.d.
    2 bound volumes of poetry, handwritten in ink: 105 pp.; 51 pp.
     
G. Essays by Espy Williams
1-12 THE SHAKESPEARE MYTH, n.d., typewritten, unbound
1-13 THE BUILDING OF A PLAY, n.d., typewritten, unbound, 15 pp.
1-14 THE MODERN DRAMA-ITS LITERARY AND MORAL VALUE, 9 pp.
THE UNION OF THE CHURCH AND STAGE, 9 pp., typewritten, unbound, 1 item (introduction and 2 parts)
    (introduction and 2 parts)
     
H. Plays and Operas
2-01 EUGENE ARAM: A Play in Five Acts (Founded on Bulwer).  August 1873
    ink-handwritten manuscript in leather bound notebook, 146 pp.
also bound in are:  handwritten notes, 4 pp.; printed copy of Act 1, p. 307-320; article taken from Temple Bar (London), p. 393-398, July 1873
2-02 EUGENE ARAM: A Play in Five Acts, Founded on Bulwer.  n.d.
    printed, n.p., pamphlet bound, Amos S. Collins, New Orleans, 1874, 73 pp.
2-03 EUGENE ARAM: A Play in Five Acts, "Printed, but not published-private edition, all rights reserved."  n.d.
    printed, n.p., pamphlet bound, Amos S. Collins, New Orleans, 1874, 73 pp.
2-04 EUGENE ARAM: A Play in Five Acts.  1874
    printed, bound in boards, published excerpt from The South Atlantic Magazine, 1879, pp. 10-27, 143-166, 213-234, 329-345, 407-424, 109 pp.
     
2-05 MORBID VERSUS QUICK: A Farce in One Act.  n.d.
    printed, pamphlet bound, Amos S. Collins, New Orleans, 1874, copyright applied for in 1873, 22 pp.
     
2-06 PRINCE CARLOS: A Historical Play in Four Acts. Founded on Schiller, April 1875
    original manuscript handwritten in ink with penciled additions and notes, in hard-bound notebook, Library of Congress copyright certificate bound in, 77 pp.
2-07 PRINCE CARLOS: A Historical Comedy in Five Acts.  n.d.
    ink-handwritten manuscript in hard-bound notebook, Library of Congress copyright certificate dated Sept. 16, 1878 bound in, 198 pp.
     
2-08 A STATUTES TRAGEDY: A Romantic Play in One Act.  March 1885
    ink-handwritten manuscript in hard-bound notebook, has pencil-handwritten note on title page:  "Offered for publication in Magazine, reserving right for stage representation," 29 pp.
  PARRHASIUS OR THRIFTLESS AMBITION.  n.d.
    ink-handwritten manuscript in the same hard-bound note book as the above play, has pencil-handwritten note on title page, "Not for publication." copyright 1879, 23 pp.
2-09 PARRHASIUS OR THRIFTLESS AMBITION: A Dramatic Poem.  n.d.
    printed, soft bound, Southern Publishing Company, New Orleans, 1879, 26 pp.
     
2-10 WITCHCRAFT OR THE WITCH OF SALEM: A Legend of Old New England in Five Acts.  n.d.
    printed, n.p., pamphlet bound, copyright 1882, F.A. Brandao & Company, New Orleans, 1886, 53 pp.
     
3-01 THE LAST QUEST OF MERLIN by Espy Williams and Isadore Dyer, 1889
    manuscript handwritten in pencil, unbound and inserted in a printed program, 21 pp.
     
3-02 A STATUTE'S TRAGEDY: A One Act Romantic Play.  1893
    typewritten manuscript, unbound, 4 pp.
     
3-03 A STATUTE'S TRAGEDY: An Episode in One Act.  n.d.
    Fetter's Southern Magazine, 5/1893 [complete issue], p. 304-316, 13 pp.
3-04 A STATUTE'S TRAGEDY: [An Episode in one Act].  n.d.
    printed pages from Fetter's Southern Magazine, 5/1893; ink-handwritten title page, bound, construction-paper covers, p. 304-326, 13 pp.
     
3-05 PARRHASIUS: A Tragedy in Three Acts.  Founded Upon the Author's One Act Tragedy of the Same Name.  1893
    carbon copy of typewritten manuscript, printed title page and cover, bound, soft cover, 41 pp; included:  two variant copies of Act 3; typewritten carbon copies: 12 pp.; 13 pp.
3-06 PARRHASIUS: A Tragedy in Four Acts.  July 28, 1893
    carbon copy of typewritten manuscript, bound in boards, 75 pp.
3-07 PARRHASIUS: 4 Acts.  November 11, 1893
    pencil-handwritten manuscript, 2 volumes, soft-bound notebooks  : v. 1, 47 pp.; v. 2, 31 pp.
     
3-08 OLLAMUS-KING OF UTOPIANA: An Entirely Original Comic Opera in Two Acts. Libretto by Espy Williams, Music by Louis Blake,  September 1, 1893
    typewritten manuscript, numerous handwritten notes and corrections, bound in boards, copyright 1893, 33 pp.
included: 2 printed copies of "Synopsis of Ollamus-King of Utopiana," 4 pp.
3-09 OLLAMUS-KING OF UTOPIANA: Comic Opera in Two Acts. Libretto by Espy Williams, Music by Louis Blake, July 9, 1894
    printed copy with page numbers 87-128 handwritten in pencil, bound, no covers, 42 pp.
3-10 OLLAMUS-KING OF UTOPIANA:  Music score of the opera of the same name.  n.d.
    printed copy with page numbers 130-145 handwritten in pencil, bound, no covers, 16 pp.
     
3-11 'TWIXT LOVE AND DUTY: An Emotional Play in Four Acts. Founded upon Tom Taylor's Drama Entitled "Retribution." December 5, 1894
    typewritten manuscript with title page handwritten in ink, bound, no covers, 52 pp.
     
4-01 THE CUP OF BITTERNESS. "Being the first play written for R. B. Mantel, founded upon Tom Taylor's old drama of 'Retribution'.  Begun, N.O., La., July 1894 - Finished, Stanford Conn., Sept. 2, 1894."  5 acts.  December 7, 1894
    typewritten manuscript, bound, paper covers, 128 pp.
     
4-02 THE QUEEN'S GARTER: A Romantic Drama in Four Acts. June 19, 1896
    typewritten manuscript, bound, paper covers, title page has pencil-handwritten note, "Obsolete-rewritten as 'A Cavalier of France'," 69 pp.
4-03 A CAVALIER OF FRANCE OR AN INTRIGUE IN THE DAYS OF HENRY TROIS: A Romantic Drama in Five Acts.  October 23, 1896
    typewritten manuscript, bound, paper covers, copyright 1897, note on cover, "Louis James' prompt copy," 55 pp.
4-04 A CAVALIER OF FRANCE OR AN INTRIGUE IN THE DAYS OF HENRY TROIS: A Romantic Drama in Five Acts.  October 23, 1896
    carbon copy of 4-03, bound, paper covers
     
4-05 THE LOVE CHASE: A Comedy in Three Acts.  Adapted from James Sheridan Knowles' Play of the Same Name.  February 7, 1897
    from printed edition Knowles' play (French's Standard Drama No. 22), glued in notebook, penciled corrections and adaptations, 42 pp.
     
4-06 THE MAN IN BLACK: A Romantic Drama in Four Acts.  Founded Upon Stanley J. Weyman's Novel of the Same Name.  August 4, 1897
    carbon copy of typewritten manuscript, bound, paper covers, copyright 1897, 71 pp.
includes: printed programs from Adam's East End Theater, 8 pp.
ink-handwritten manuscript of last act, 31 pp.
     
4-07 A FOOL AND HIS MONEY: An Original Farce Comedy in Three Acts.
Other titles suggested: THE RESURRECTION OF GREEN; A MIDNIGHT FOLLY; MY UNCLE'S CASH; MONEY TO BURN; WHEN GREEN WAS GRIMES; A JOLLY OLD BOY.  December 6, 1898
    Other titles suggested: THE RESURRECTION OF GREEN; A MIDNIGHT FOLLY; MY UNCLE'S CASH; MONEY TO BURN; WHEN GREEN WAS GRIMES; A JOLLY OLD BOY.  December 6, 1898
carbon copy of typewritten manuscript, bound, paper covers, 48 pp
     
4-08 THE KING AND THE FOOL:  An original comedy.  (CHICOT THE JESTER).  February 7, 1899
    carbon copy of typewritten manuscript, bound in boards, 48 pp.
See also: 4-11, THE DUKE'S JESTER, similar
4-09 CHICOT THE JESTER OR THE KING AND THE FOOL: An Original Comedy, 4 acts, n.d.
    carbon copy of typewritten manuscript, bound, hard cover, 48 pp.
     
4-10 THE CLAIRVOYANT (A LIVING LIE): An Original Drama in Four Acts.  June 1899
    carbon copy of typewritten manuscript, bound, paper covers, 65 pp.
     
4-11 THE DUKE'S JESTER (THE COURT JESTER): An Original Romantic Comedy, 4 acts. October 1899
    typewritten manuscript, bound in boards, note on title page reads, "Played by Frederick Ward," 77 pp.
includes: act 1, scene 1, typewritten carbon copy, 4 pp.
     
5-01 THE WIRE CUTTERS: A Comedy Drama in a Prologue and Three Acts.  Founded Upon Mrs. M. E. M. Davis' Novel of the Same Name.  January 7, 1900
    typewritten manuscript, bound in boards, 56 pp.
     
5-02 A ROYAL JOKE: A Burlesque Opera in Three Acts.  Libretto by Espy Williams, Music by Louis Blake.  1901
    carbon copy of typewritten manuscript, bound, paper covers, 31 pp.
     
5-03 THE EMPEROR'S DOUBLE: A Romantic Drama, Prologue and Acts 1 and 2. 
Other suggested titles: THE GUEST OF HOLDSTEIN; THE BARON'S LAST LOVE; BARON HOLDSTEIN.  March 27, 1901
    ink-handwritten manuscript in two lined notebooks bound together, numerous notes, 88 pp.
5-04 THE EMPEROR'S DOUBLE: Acts 3 and 4.  April 5, 1901
    ink-handwritten manuscript, unbound, many corrections, 45 pp.
     
5-05 THE EMPEROR'S DOUBLE: Scenario for a Romantic Historical Drama in 4 Acts. n.d.
    pencil-handwritten manuscript, unbound, 34 pp.
     
5-06 CHICOT: A Romantic Comedy in Four Acts.  1901-1901
    typewritten manuscript, bound, paper covers, 79 pp.
     
5-07 THE SCARLET CAMELLIA: An Emotional Play in Four Acts.  Suggested by Ouida's
               Novel Strathmore.  n.d.
    carbon copy of typewritten manuscript, bound, cloth covers, 85 pp.
5-08 THE SCENARIO OF STRATHMORE: An Emotional Drama in Four Acts. Founded upon Ouida's Novel.  July 10, 1902
    carbon copy of typewritten manuscript sewn together, no cover, scenario of 5-07 [above], 18 pp.
     
5-09 UNORNA. THE WITCH OF PRAGUE: A Dramatic Creation by F. Marion Crawford and Espy Williams.  n.d.  "Copyright at the Royal Princess' Theater, London, England, September 22, 1902"
    original typewritten manuscript, unbound, 56 pp.
carbon copy of the same, unbound, 56 pp.
5-10 UNORNA. THE WITCH OF PRAGUE: A Dramatic Creation by F. Marion Crawford and Espy Williams.  "revised" November 1902
    typewritten manuscript, revised edition, unbound, 69 pp.
     
5-11 MADAM DE MAINTENON: A Comedy of Manners in Four Acts.  Written Originally by F. Marion Crawford and Amended, Reconstructed and Modified by Espy Williams. March 17, 1903
    typewritten manuscript, ink-handwritten additions, bound in boards, 66 pp
     
6-01 DON CARLOS: A Historical Play in Four Acts.  Founded Upon Frederick Von Schiller's Famous Tragedy of the Same Name. November 1905
    carbon copy of typewritten manuscript, bound, paper covers, 53 pp.
6-02 DON CARLOS - A PRINCE OF SPAIN: A Historical Play in Four Acts.  Founded on Fred Von Schiller's Tragedy of the Same Name. 1905
    carbon copy of typewritten manuscript, bound in boards, 70 pp.
6-03 A PRINCE OF SPAIN: A Historical Play in Four Acts.  n.d.
    carbon copy of typewritten manuscript, bound in boards, 70 pp.
     
6-04 MERLIN'S LAST QUEST: A Satirical Dogrelian(?) Skit in Two Scenes.  By Espy Williams and Isadore Dyer.  November 1907
    pencil-handwritten manuscript in paper-bound notebook, 21 pp.
     
6-05 THE BURIED NAME (MARLOWE): Prologue and Three Acts. July 25, 1908
    pencil-handwritten manuscript, unbound, 78 pp.
6-06 "MARLOWE": THE BURIED NAME:  Prologue and Three Acts, July 25, 1908
    typewritten manuscript, unbound, note on last page, "Although an epilogue is promised, three years later, the manuscript ends here. Seemingly Williams did not live long enough to write it." 67 pp.
     
6-07 JOHN WENTWORTH'S WIFE: A Modern Play in Four Acts.  n.d.
Other suggested titles: A DOMESTIC AFFAIR; THE MARRIAGE CONTRACT.
    carbon copy of typewritten manuscript with ink-handwritten title page, bound, paper covers, 68 pp.
     
6-08 DANTE AND BEATRICE: A Florentine Romance in Three Acts. n.d.
    typewritten manuscript with title page handwritten in ink, bound, cloth cover, 37 pp.
     
6-09 A NEW PLAY: A Drama in Three Acts by Joaquin Estebanez (a pseudonym].  n.d.
    typewritten manuscript with title sheet handwritten in ink, unbound, clipped together in board folder, 63 pp.
     
6-10 THE WIZARD OF NOTRE DAME: A Romantic Melodrama in Four Acts. By Espy Williams and Stanley J. Weyman.  "This play is  founded upon Stanley J. Weyman's novel The Man in Black under a contract between the authors whereby Espy Williams owns the dramatic rights of said novel."  n.d.
    typewritten manuscript, bound, paper covers, 51 pp
6-11 THE WIZARD OF NOTRE DAME: A Romantic Melodrama in Four Acts. By Espy Williams and Stanley Weyman.  n.d.
    carbon copy of typewritten manuscript, bound, paper  covers, 51 pp.