Researching Alan Ayckbourn: The John Rylands Library

The John Rylands Library at the University of Manchester holds the Stephen Joseph Theatre Papers; the most significant collection of material pertaining to the British theatre pioneer and the most significant influence and mentor in Alan Ayckbourn's life.

Stephen Joseph had close connections with the University of Manchester and, following his death in 1967, his papers were gifted to the John Rylands Library by the playwright and Joseph's close friend, David Campton.
The Stephen Joseph Papers relate to Stephen Joseph's entire life including the formation of the Studio Theatre Company, which formed the basis for The Library Theatre, Scarborough (now the Stephen Joseph Theatre) and the Victoria Theatre, Stoke-on-Trent (now the New Vic).

Material pertinent to Alan Ayckbourn includes an original manuscript of Alan's first play
The Square Cat as well as correspondence with Alan Ayckbourn and papers relating to The Library Theatre between 1955 and Stephen Joseph's death in 1967.

Stephen Joseph is one of the key figures in Alan Ayckbourn's life and is frequently cited by the playwright as one his most influential mentors. Stephen Joseph first employed Alan as an actor / ASM at the Library Theatre in 1957 and encouraged Alan to take up playwriting and directing. Following Stephen's death in 1967, Alan became the Artistic Director of The Library Theatre in 1972, ensuring Stephen's legacy of encouraging new writing by new playwrights lived on.

The Stephen Joseph Papers are regarded as one of the most important collections of material relating to this pioneer of British Theatre during the 1950s and 1960s.