The Man Shakespeare is with Us, a television mini-series about the life of Shakespeare

Scope and Content

This series contains outlines for a series of episodes by David Butler; a synopsis of the proposed series by Burgess; and various draft scripts (in English and Italian). One file relates to an Italian series, produced by RAI, titled "Club del Teatro: Shekespeare.": the nature of Burgess's involvement in this series is unclear, although it is presumed that it may be related to his work on "The Man Shakespeare is with Us".

Administrative / Biographical History

In 1973 Lew Grade (later Lord Grade) commissioned a television series on Shakespeare's life to be written by Burgess, directed by Franco Zeffirelli, and produced by Vincenzo Labella. The series was to be a co-production between Italy's Radiotelevisione Italiana (RAI) and Incorporated Television Company (ITC), a subsidiary of Grade's Associated Television (ATV), which was itself a franchise of ITV. Burgess wrote scripts under a number of titles, but the final title given to the proposed series appears to have been "The Man Shakespeare is with Us" or "Shakespeare da Noi" in Italian. (Other titles include "William Shakespeare", "L'uomo Shakespeare e' con noi" and "La Vita e i tempi di William Shakespeare".)

The exact process by which Burgess developed his scripts for the series is unclear, but records within this series suggest that the actor and screenwriter, David Butler, produced outlines for a series of episodes, which were then developed in full by Burgess.

Burgess's scripts for the series were ultimately rejected, possibly, amongst other reasons, due to difficulties arising from the fact that he had previously sold the film rights to both his novel, Nothing Like the Sun, and his proposed stage musical, the Bawdy Bard, and thus any television series he wrote would have to be an entirely new work. John Mortimer went on to produce the scripts for the series, broadcast as "Will Shakespeare" / "William Shakespeare: His Life and Times" in 1978.


While cataloguing records within this series, attempts have been made to identify similarities between scripts, in order to gather information about the drafting process. 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.

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