Literary papers of Nancy Gaffikin

Scope and Content

The content consists of play scripts of full-length plays such as The Master Carver, The Mannin Line and The Long Divorce. Other material related to the full-length plays include photographs of the productions and cast, correspondence, promotional programmes and posters, brochures, newspaper cuttings, play reviews, a Manx Music Festival Certificate (for The Master Carver) and a sound recording of the nuns in The Long Divorce (by the Withington Players). A scrapbook on The Long Divorce and another play called My Brother, My King and an autobiographical profile on Nancy Gaffikin are also present within the deposit.

Further material includes short sketches and one act plays such as What Do You Think?, What A Way!, Should A Woman Tell?, A Vote of Thanks, House and Home and The Cloak (includes notes on the design of the set). Other plays by Gaffikin include Ship’s Company, The New Chairman, Just A Minute, Incident in an Outstation, Fourgone Conclusion, Love Me. Love My Dog, Before Christina and Over The Boarder.

Further plays, sketches, monologues, duologues and mime works published by other parties are present within the deposit.

Administrative / Biographical History

Nancy Mapleton Flowerdew (1917-1997) was born in Malaya (modern day Malaysia), the second daughter of Arthur Harry Flowerdew (c.1875-1953), a consulting mining engineer and Nina Florence (Flora) C. née Hoskins (c.1877). The family moved to Malaya in 1914. Nancy was educated in England and in mainland Europe before entering secretarial training. Returning to Kuala Lumpur, Nancy worked in her father’s office and then for one of the large English firms.

In 1938 the family moved to Australia after Arthur accepted a new work position. In September 1939 the Second World War broke; unable to travel back to England Nancy joined the Australian Women’s Army Service as a Private. By the end of the war Nancy was a Captain in the Intelligence Service. In 1937 Nancy became engaged to Thomas Quartus Gaffikin (1907-1980) of the Malayan Police Service, son of Thomas Gaffikin (c.1871-1927), a linen merchant and Dora Ward née Wilson (c.1874-1961). During the war Quartus Gaffikin was interned by the Japanese in Singapore. The couple did not get married until after 1945 and both had returned to Malaya where they resided until 1957, when the country received independence.

In 1959 they retired to the Isle of Man and Nancy began writing short stories, newspaper articles and one-act plays. Taking inspiration from her surroundings, Nancy became extremely interested in the Island’s culture and history, with many full-length plays centred on Manx historical settings. Her first full-length play was Mannin Line, set in the 9th century, which won an international playwriting competition that was sponsored by the Ilkley Players (Ilkley Playhouse, Yorkshire); they also performed it first.

Another play was The Long Divorce, the 16th century story centred on the dissolution of the Douglas Nunnery by Henry VIII (1491-1547). Gaffikin’s third full-length play was called the Master Carver and was set in the 10th century, telling the story of Gaut Bjørnson; the most famous sculptor of runic crosses on the Island. Gaffikin died in 1997.

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Archivist's Note

The biographical information was gathered from the autobiographical profile situated within deposit MS 09945 and the website (accessed 7 July 2016).

Fonds-level description created by Eleanor Williams (MNH Project Archivist), July 2016.