Great Expectations

N.p. N.p., 1939. Draft script for the 1939 play. Carbon typescript on onionskin. With the name of actress May Hallatt in holograph ink on front wrapper, and holograph annotations in pencil throughout. We could not verify her involvement in the 1939 production, although it seems reasonable to infer from this script that the prolific stage and screen actress indeed had been, possibly as stand-in for the role of Miss Havisham, as many of the annotations in the script relate to that character.

In 1939, during a period of unemployment, Alec Guinness, with the aid of his wife, artist, playwright, and actress Merula Sylvia Salaman, began writing a stage adaptation of the 1861 Charles Dickens classic. Upon completion, Guinness shared the manuscript with friends, who decided to form an actor's cooperative, the Actor's Company, with the intention of putting on the production. It was also at this time, September 1939, that Great Britain declared war on Germany, commencing World War II.

The play premiered in December 1939, under the direction of George Devine, at Rudolf Steiner Hall. Marius Goring performed the role of Pip, with Martita Hunt as Miss Havisham, Yvonne Mitchell as the young Estella, Roy Emerton as Magwitch, and Vera Poliakoff as the adult Estella. Guinness and Salaman, sitting opposite one another on stage, were the narrators as well as performing the roles of Herbert Pocket and Biddy, respectively. The play received favorable reviews, particularly from Sunday Times critic James Agate, and did reasonably well, but the strain of the war prevented it from moving to a larger theatre and the production, as well as the Actor's Company, went bust.

The following year a new production of Guinness' "Great Expectations" began, but was then abandoned when Guinness refused to take part.

Guinness credits the play for having drawn him from the stage onto film. Upon Salaman's insistence, an actress friend of hers, Kay Walsh and her husband, then thirty-one-year-old film editor, David Lean saw the production, which directly inspired Lean to take the story to the screen and make the classic 1946 film, with Guinness and Hunt reviving their stage roles for the screen.

Brown titled wrapper. Title page present, with credits for author Charles Dickens and playwright Alec Guinness. 122 leaves, with last page of text numbered 34. Carbon typescript on onionskin stock, rectos only. Pages Near Fine, wrapper Very Good plus, some creasing and damp staining, bound with ribbon.


[Book #146992]

Price: $3,500.00