Papers of Bryony Lavery, playwright

Scope and Content

Personal papers of Bryony Lavery reflecting her career as a playwright. The collection includes play scripts and other creative writing, sound recordings, reviews, playbills, proposals for radio and television dramas, and project files.

Administrative / Biographical History

Bryony Lavery was born in Wakefield, Yorkshire, in December 1947. Her father was principal of the Dewsbury Nurse Training College. Lavery studied English at Hendon College of Technology. She was working as a theatre administrator when she wrote her first play I Was Too Young At The Time To Understand Why My Mother Was Crying. She has subsequently written over 60 plays, many of which are unpublished. They include Helen And Her Friends (1978); Bag (1979); Family Album (1980); Missing (1981); Calamity (1983); Origin Of The Species (1984); Witchcraze (1985); Her Aching Heart (Pink Paper Play Of The Year 1992); Wicked (1990); Kitchen Matters (1990); Flight (1991); Nothing Compares To You (1995); Ophelia (1996) and A Wedding Story (2000). Her play Frozen, commissioned by Birmingham Rep, won the TMA Best Play Award, the Eileen Anderson Central Television Award, and was produced on Broadway where it was nominated for 4 Tony awards. Stockholm won the Wolff Whiting award in 2008.

In the 1970s Lavery founded a theatre company, Les Oeufs Malades, with actor Gerard Bell. She was also associated with feminist and socialist theatre groups such as Monstrous Regiment and Women’s Theatre Group. She was the artistic director of Gay Sweatshop and Female Trouble. She was the writer in residence at the Unicorn Theatre for Children.

Lavery has written extensively for radio, including No Joan Of Arc (Sony nominated); Velma And Therese, The Smell Of Him and Requiem. She has also adapted several works including Wuthering Heights, Lady Audley's Secret, A High Wind In Jamaica, The Lovers of Viorne and Wise Children.

Bryony Lavery was a tutor on Birmingham University’s MA in Playwrighting. She is an honorary Doctor of Arts of De Montfort University.


The collection is arranged in broad sections: play scripts; creative writing other than drama; audio recordings; and related material.

Access Information

Open for general access.

Acquisition Information

The collection was deposited by Bryony Lavery in June 2011.

Other Finding Aids

A basic listing is available from the Archivist on request. A more detailed catalogue will be produced in due course.

Archivist's Note

This description compiled by Katharine Short, March 2013.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright is held by the author.

Related Material

Records of the Gay Sweatshop Theatre Company are held at Royal Holloway University, while records of the Monstrous Regiment Theatre Company are held at the Women's Library, London School of Economics.


Several of Lavery’s plays have been published and are available in the DMU Library main holdings.