The David Campton Collection

Scope and Content

The collection contains the literary papers of David Campton, author and playwright. The literary papers comprise correspondence with publishers, agents, friends and peers; manuscript and typescript drafts of Campton's stage and radio plays; manuscript and typescript television scripts; manauscript and typescript drafts of his short stories, both published and unpublished; and files of newscuttings and reviews.

Administrative / Biographical History

David Campton was a prolific dramatist who wrote more than 120 plays for the stage, screen and radio. A contemorary of Pinter and Aychbourn, his works have been performed on the professional and amateur stage for the past fifty years.
Campton was born in Leicester in 1924 and educated at Wyggeston Grammar School, Leicester. After leaving school he worked as clerk in the Leicester Education Department, but left in 1949 to join the East Midlands Gas Board. He served with the Royal Air Force from 1942 to 1945 and in the Fleet Air Arm from 1945 to 1946.
During the early 1950s Campton started writing for the amateur theatre, in particular, the Leicester Drama Society and the Vaughan Players (where a young Joe Orton was starting his acting career). However, it was not until the mid 1950s when Campton met the theatrical producer Stephen Joseph that his professional writing career was launched. Joseph, whose radical scheme for theatre-in-the-round found an unlikely home in Scarborough's public library, produced Campton's work 'Dragon's are Dangerous' in summer of 1955. The collaboration proved successful and Campton continued to work closely with Joseph, and his protege Alan Ayckbourn, at the Library Theatre until Joseph's death in 1967.
Not content with writing, Campton was also a keen actor, appearing in his own productions and those of his peers. In 1959 he appeared in a production of Harold Pinter's 'The Birthday Party' at the Theatre Centre in Birmingham with Ayckbourn and Pinter. In 1956 Campton left the Gas Board and started writing for television, securing a contract with Associated-Rediffusion to wrote children's programmes. This was supplemented in 1958 with an Arts Council bursary. After winning the award, Campton became one the country's most prolific playwrights, with over 100 one-act plays and 20 full length stage plays having been produced, including a number of pieces written especially for schools and youth theatres. He also adapted many of his plays for radio and television.
An exponent of the Theatre of the Absurd, Campton's work during the 1950s and 1960s is often likened to that of Pinter and Beckett, although he did not enjoy the same national recongnition as peers. A popular dramatist amongst amateur theatre groups, he also had successes in the West End with 'One over the Eight' and 'One the Brighter Side' and received prizes from the British Theatre Association in 1975, 1978 and 1985. In 2006 he was awarded an honorary degree by the University of Leicester. He died in September 2006.


The papers reflect the original arrangement made by David Campton prior to their transfer to the library

Access Information

The collection is open to bona fide researchers, although some papers, such as some correspondence files, have been closed under the terms of the Data Protection Act 1998.

Acquisition Information

The papers were donated to the Library by David Campton in August 2005

Conditions Governing Use

Much of the material in the archive remains in copyright. Copyright of the majority of David Campton's own papers is held by David Campton's estate. However, Copyright of the residual material, such as letters written to her and works by other authors, remains with individual authors. Photocopies of material can be supplied for private research purposes only. However, it is the responsibility of users to obtain the copyright holder's permission for reproduction of copyright material for purposes other than research or private study. A copy of such written approval from the copyright holder must be received by the Librarian before reproductions can be made. It is also the researcher's responsibility to obtain the relevant copyright holder's permission to publish or cite papers from the archive. A copy of such written approval from the copyright holder must be received by the Librarian prior to publication. The Library will not be responsible for any failure on the part of authors and publishers to seek such permission to publish. Readers are required to sign a form accepting these conditions

Custodial History

The papers were held by David Campton in his home in Leicester


No further accruals are expected

Personal Names