The Benn W. Levy Papers

Reference and contact details: GB 0181 SxMs 37
Title: The Benn W. Levy Papers
Dates of creation: 1945-1973
Held at: University of Sussex Library
Extent: 10 boxes; 4 cubic feet
Name of Creator: Levy, Benn Wolfe (1900-1974)
Level of Description: fonds
Language of Material: eng


Administrative/Biographical History

Playwright and theatre director, Benn Wolfe Levy (1900-1974) was born in London and educated at Repton School and University College, Oxford. He served in the Royal Air Force in 1918 and in the Royal Navy in the Second World War. In 1945 he was elected Labour Member of Parliament for Eton and Slough which he represented until 1950, when he returned to writing for the theatre. While in parliament he introduced a Private Member's Bill to abolish the Lord Chamberlain's censorship of the theatre which, although unsuccessful for procedural reasons in 1949, was effectively passed 18 years later. He served on the Executive of the Arts Council from 1953 to 1961 and was Chairman of the League of British Dramatists for the following four years. Other causes with which he was associated include the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament and the National Council for Civil Liberties. The contents of this archive fully reflect his involvement with justice for the theatre and concern with civil rights.

Scope and Content

The following are the titles of the groups of files, using Levy's subject descriptions. The groups include correspondence (sent and received), papers for meetings, printed leaflets and press-cuttings. Dates are of material directly associated with Levy; files may contain earlier printed items.

Arts & Amenities, on financing projects in the arts; 1963-1969

Arts Council of Great Britain, Sub-committee on Theatre Taxation; 1955-1957

Arts Council of Great Britain: Theatre Censorship Reform Committee; Arts Council Committee of Enquiry into Theatre Censorship; Joint Committee on Censorship of the Theatre; 1952-1967

Arts Council of Great Britain: Working Party on Obscenity Laws; 1966-1971

British Theatre Conference 1948

Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament; 1959-1972

Campaign for the Limitation of Secret Police Powers; 1956-1970

Causes (miscellaneous); 1956-1968

Censorship of Plays (Repeal) Bill 1949

Cinematograph Films Bill 1948

Common Market; 1960-1973

Council for the Defence of Seretse Khama and the Protectorates; 1952-1953

Defence of Literature and the Arts Society; 1970-1973

Direct Action Committee Against Nuclear War; 1958-1961

Entertainment Arts Socialist Association; 1958-1959

European Congress for Nuclear Disarmament 1959

Fabian Society, miscellaneous; 1949-1959

Fabian Society, Group studying the future of broadcasting; 1949

Fascism; 1946-1947

Independent Nuclear Disarmament Election Committee (Indec)

Labour Party: Constituency parties; 'Leisure for living' group; Recreation and Leisure Working Party; 1959-1966

Labour Party: Films Sub-Committee, Trade and Industry Group; 1945-1947

League of British Dramatists Committee; 1929-1940

League of British Dramatists, Radio and Television Safeguards Committee; 1953-1961

Movement for Colonial Freedom; 1954-1967

National Council for Civil Liberties; 1950-1963

People for the People, ed. David Rubinstein; 1963

Tibor Dery Committee; 1959-1960

Tribune; 1956-1973

Unesco International Conference of Artists. Venice 1952

Unity Theatre Society; 1948

Vassall Case; 1963

Victory for Socialism; 1958-1960

Voluntary Lapsed Copyright Scheme; 1953-1957

Writings of Benn Levy; 1947-1972

Administrative Information

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Presented in 1978 by Levy's widow, the actress Constance Cummings.

Access Conditions

Items in the collection may be consulted for the purpose of private study and personal research, within the controlled environment and restrictions of the Library's Special Collections Reading Rooms.

Copyright/Reproduction

COPIES FOR PRIVATE STUDY: Subject to copyright, conditions imposed by owners and protecting the documents, the Library can supply, at a charge, photocopies, photographs or digital copies.

PUBLICATION: A reader wishing to publish material in the collection should contact the Head of Special Collections, in writing. The reader is responsible for obtaining permission to publish from the copyright owner.

Further Information

Finding Aids

A handlist is available in the Library and also on its website.