Moses the Lawgiver, and Moses: A Narrative

Scope and Content

In 1970, Burgess was approached by the Italian producer, Vincenzo Labella, to write the film script for a television mini-series about Moses to be co-produced by Radiotelevisione Italiana (RAI) and Lew Grade. Burt Lancaster would star as Moses, with Anthony Quayle portraying Aaron. In autumn 1972, Burgess began work on a verse novel, later published as Moses: A Narrative, from which he fashioned scripts for the six hour-long episodes of Moses the Lawgiver, finishing them in Rome the following summer.

Upon completing the script, Burgess composed a score for Moses the Lawgiver. The Moses score was, however, unsolicited and unexpected by the producer, who turned down Burgess's request to compose the music for the entire miniseries. Labella approached Ennio Morricone to write the score instead.

This series consists of drafts of Moses: A Narrative, a treatment and character list for the television series, outlines for various episodes, and drafts of the screenplay in English and Italian.

Source: "A Clockwork Counterpoint: the Music and Literature of Anthony Burgess" by Paul Phillips (Manchester University Press, 2010)


Burgess's original arrangement of these records (if any existed) had been disrupted over time, which had resulted in various different drafts of the screenplay and episode outlines becoming intermingled. While cataloguing records within this series, an attempt has been made to restore the original order by identifying similarities in paper and typeface. Where such similarities exist, records have been grouped together. Where possible, a cross-reference to "earlier" or "later" drafts has been given in the Description field, but such references are suggestions only: more detailed research into records in this series is needed to fully determine connections between records.

Conditions Governing Access

Access to fragile records is granted in consultation with the Archivist (as indicated on a file-by-file, or item-by-item, basis).

Physical Characteristics and/or Technical Requirements

The majority of records within this series are in a good condition, with the exception of one item.