Papers of Frederick Clayton relating to Shakespeare and classical texts

Scope and Content

This collection contains twelve boxes of folders containing work in all stages of progress from scraps of annotated and virtually illegible paper often containing references to passages in a wide variety of authors, handwritten notes - again many very difficult to read, typed-up passages, photocopies of the same. Much of the material relates to the two Shakespearian plays, 'Love's Labour's Lost' and 'A Midsummer Night's Dream' (see detailed list), but there is also a small collection of literary papers by Clayton under the pseudonymns Frank Clare and Riki.

After the publication of his Jackson Knight memorial lecture, 'The Hole in the Wall: A New Look at Shakespeare's Latin base for 'A Midsummer Night's Dream', Professor Clayton had hoped to write a book expanding the same idea but also using it to explore some other plays of Shakespeare, particularly, it seems, 'The Winter's Tale' and 'As You Like It'. He also started to explore some related themes in Jonson's 'The Alchemist' and Lily's 'Midas', and Dickens' use of unusual names in 'Dombey and Son'.

There is also certain amount of further miscellaneous material in the collection, including personal material, lecture notes, copies of articles etc. (see handlist for further details).

Administrative / Biographical History

Frederick William Clayton (1913-1999) was born to relatively modest parents - his father was headmaster of a village school near Liverpool. His intellectual ability was early in evidence and from the Liverpool Collegiate School he won an open scholarship to King's College Cambridge to read Classics in 1931. Prior to taking up a prize fellowship in 1937, he went to Vienna to teach and to learn German. This experience provided the raw material for a novel published in 1942, 'The Cloven Pine', under the pseudonym Frank Clare. In 1938 he was instrumental, with his friend Alan Turing, in assisting two Jewish Viennese boys to come to England. In 1940 he joined the Royal Signal Corps and became a code breaker, first at Bletchley Park and then in India. He returned in 1946 and in 1948 married a young German woman whose family he had known before the war.

After two years at the University of Edinburgh he was appointed Professor of Classics at the then University College of the South West, which became the University of Exeter in 1955. From 1962-1965 he was dean of the arts faculty, and public orator, 1965-1973. During his early years at Exeter he translated the comedies of Terence (published by Exeter University Press in 2006). He was particularly fascinated by the echoes of Latin writers in Shakespeare and in 1979 published a pamphlet based on his Jackson Knight memorial lecture of 1977 entitled 'The Hole in the Wall'. Although he had hoped to pursue the ideas raised in this lecture at far greater extent during his retirement, he was prevented by illness from achieving this aim. An article based on his work on 'Love's Labour's Lost' was put together by his daughter Margaret Tudeau-Clayton and published posthumously under both names.


'The Cloven Pine' has been translated into German: Frank Clare, 'Zwei Welten. Eine Jugend im nationalsozialistischen Deutschland', Bibliothek Rosa Winkel (Hamburg: Mannerschwarm-Skript Verlag, 2003

'The Comedies of Terence' translated by Frederick W Clayton, introduced by Matthew Leigh, University of Exeter Press, 2006

Frederick W Clayton, 'The Hole in the Wall: A New Look at Shakespeare's Latin Base for 'A Midsummer's Night's Dream'' (Exeter: Exeter University 1979)

Frederick W Clayton and Margaret Tudeau-Clayton, 'Mercury, Boy yet and the "harsh words" of 'Love's Labour's Lost'', 'Shakespeare Survey' 57 (2004): 209-224


Arranged by V Stevens during cataloguing work, summer 2006.

Conditions Governing Access

Usual EUL arrangements apply.

Acquisition Information

Given to the University Library via bequest, c 2001. Further groups of papers were deposited by a friend of the family in Dec 2005, Jan 2006 and Aug 2007. Autobiographical materials deposited initially have been returned to private hands.

Other Finding Aids

Rough handlists by V Stevens 26 Aug 2006 and 28 August 2007 are available.

Archivist's Note

Description compiled by Vicky Stevens and Charlotte Berry, Archivist, Aug 2005, revised Oct 2006. Modified by Christine Faunch on 28 Aug 2007.

Conditions Governing Use

Usual EUL restrictions apply.

Related Material

Personal papers of Clayton are retained in private hands.


The material relating to 'Love's Labour's Lost' was used by Frederick W Clayton and Margaret Tudeau-Clayton (and Vicky Stephens), 'Mercury, Boy yet and the "harsh words" of 'Love's Labour's Lost'', 'Shakespeare Survey' 57 (2004): 209-224 The materials relating to 'A Midsummer Night's Dream' was used in 'Frederick W Clayton, 'The Hole in the Wall: A New Look at Shakespeare's Latin Base for 'A Midsummer's Night's Dream'' (Exeter: Exeter University 1979).