Unpublished Rattigan

Two Terries.jpg

For this, Rattigan’s centenary year, Nick Hern has released five new volumes of Rattigan plays. The Spring saw Cause Célèbre and Flare Path, coinciding with productions at the Old Vic and Haymarket. The summer saw the first ever publication of First Episode.

This Autumn we’ve released Love in Idleness/Less Than Kind and Who is Sylvia?/Duologue, bringing the total number of volumes in the series to twelve. Both of the new volumes include never-before-published plays. Less Than Kind is a earlier and very different draft of Love in Idleness, much more serious, much more left-wing than the final draft. My introduction takes the reader through the long process of writing and revision and considers the relative merits of both versions, based on new archival research. Duologue is a stage adaptation of his 1968 television play All On Her Own and is published here for the first time. Who is Sylvia? is a curiosity in Rattigan’s canon; usually seen as a light comedy at a time when he should really have given up writing light comedies, it is actually, I think, an experiment in subjective fantasy and play construction, designed to address both Rattigan’s own and his father’s promiscuous sexual desires.

In researching the introduction, I found - for the first time I believe - his first, abandoned draft of the play, as well as several pages of detailed notes on construction and the intended meaning of the play. I think I’m the first person to look at this document because it had been miscatalogued by the British Library as something much less interesting, so no one - certainly not his biographers - bothered to look in the file, and everyone took Terry at his word that his tore that first draft up.

Between the five volumes this year, they represent around 35,000 words on Rattigan and, I hope, offer a substantial addition to academic writing on this terrific playwright.