Hubert Gregg's archive of typescripts, autograph manuscripts, and letters relating to the plays of Agatha Christie;
including The Hollow, The Mousetrap, The Unexpected Guest, and Rule of Three (The Rats, Afternoon at the Seaside, and The Patient).1953-72 Stock Code: 110880
A superb collection of material, illuminating Christie's relationship with her director and producer over the course of five plays and two decades. The typescripts in particular document the process from casting to opening night in great detail, the contributions and opinions of the director and producer recorded at each point, but with little doubt as to who had the final say.
Hubert Gregg (1914-2004) was one of the most steadily successful theatrical all-rounders of his generation; a broadcaster and light comedian, a Shakespearean actor, a director of comedies and thrillers, and a composer of hundreds of songs - including "Maybe It's Because I'm a Londoner" and "I'm Going to Get Lit Up When the Lights Go Up In London".
He was director of five Agatha Christie plays, including The Mousetrap for seven years of its record-breaking run, from 1953 (it was first staged on 6 October 1952, directed by Peter Cotes). In his own words "three were smash hits, one had a modest run and the other was a flop". Gregg described his experiences in his book, Agatha Christie and All That Mousetrap (Kimber 1980).
The archive and correspondence, spanning nearly 20 years, includes three Agatha Christie plays in typescript, each one the director's working copy with extensive revisions to the text, notes on staging and lighting, often with related notes, manuscript revisions and correspondence between Gregg, Agatha Christie, and the producer Peter Saunders; Gregg's own copy of The Mousetrap, inscribed and presented to him by Agatha Christie on the occasion of "our sixth birthday"; and Agatha Christie's holograph manuscript for the ending of "The Patient", the last play in Rule of Three.
a) The Hollow: A Play In Three Acts. Typescript. 90 Pages. c.1951 Presentation binding of blue roan, titles in gilt to the upper board and spine. Presentation inscription from the producer Peter Saunders dated December 1952 to the front free endpaper, and inscribed by the author "Happy Memories / Agatha Christie". Extensively annotated throughout in blue ink by Gregg and with three pages of cancelled notes in pencil. The binding rubbed and worn, the upper board nearly detached, title page chipped at edges.
b) The Unexpected Guest: A Play in Three Acts. Typescript. 172 pages, each act separately paginated. c.1959 Blue card covers with printed label and marked "Uncorrected Copy" in pencil to upper wrapper. Signed by Agatha Christie on the title page. Extensive notes, revisions and stage diagrams in blue ink, pencil, and black ink by Gregg throughout. Loosely laid in are seven additional leaves which include rehearsal schedule, cast list, rough stage plans and notes of questions for Agatha Christie.
c) Rule of Three: Three Plays by Agatha Christie (The Rats, Afternoon at the Seaside, The Patient). Typescript. 77 pages, each play separately paginated. c.1961 Red card wrappers, bound into a blue folder. Marked in blue ink "Amended" to the title page. Signed by Gregg and annotated throughout in blue ink, the final page of "The Patient" with note ("End to follow"). With an additional 26 leaves loosely inserted, including typescript revisions to the script (including the end of "The Patient"), notes on auditions, rehearsal schedules and a letter from Peter Saunders to Hubert Gregg regarding the apparently troublesome ending of "The Patient" and advising that Donald Walker felt it too long and wordy: "I also send for your own amusement his own suggestion of how he thinks the play ought to finish. Can you imagine Agatha's face!"
d) Three page autograph manuscript in the hand of Agatha Christie, for the ending of "The Patient". c.1961 Written in blue ink on the reverse of Victoria Hotel, Wolverhampton headed stationery.
e) The Mousetrap. A Play in Two Acts. 70 pages. Published by Samuel French, 1954. Presentation copy from the author to her director. Blue cloth boards with title, borders and the date (25th November 1958) in gilt to the upper board. Inscribed by Agatha Christie in blue ink on the front free endpaper "For Hubert / With affection and gratitude / on our Sixth Birthday / from / Agatha underlined". In very good condition.
f) Seven autograph letters from Agatha Christie to Hubert Gregg. 19 pages in total spanning 1953-72. Topics include a poor review, "still, plays are like race horses, always either amazing or disappointing their stables", comments on possible revisions to a play in production, the development of her then unfinished play Fiddler's Five, her astonishment at the continuing popularity of The Mousetrap and in the later years, health issues. Most with their original postmarked envelopes.
g) Luncheon menu, held at The Savoy for the Casts of The Mousetrap 1963-1965. Dated 20 November 1964, signed for Hubert Gregg by Agatha Christie and 21 members of cast.
h) A Christmas card, from the Victoria and Albert Museum, sent to Hubert Gregg and inscribed in blue ink "From / Agatha Christie".
i) An original playbill for "The Hollow" at the Arts Theatre, Cambridge "prior to West-End presentation", dated February 1951.
j) An eight page program for "Rule of Three" for the week commencing Monday, 6 November 1961.
Together 15 items, 1 printed book, 3 complete typescripts, 7 autograph letters signed from Christie to Gregg (most with original envelopes), menu signed by Christie and 21 cast members of The Mousetrap, a Christmas card sent from Christie to Gregg, an original playbill for The Hollow, and programme for Rule of Three.
Slight rubbing to extremities, joint of The Hollow cracked but holding; a remarkably well-preserved archive.
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