Material and Help Needed

Have you/do you know of, any...

  • Texts of collated or written plays
  • .

    No-one else that I know of has thought these to be worth collecting - I have over 160. Ensure the immortality of your masterpiece by sending me a copy.

  • Unpublished Works - papers, essays, articles, theses
  • Again, these do not seem to have been collected, yet often much thought has gone into them and many contain interesting and important material. Often papers are read, but never get published although a written script exists. Why let such useful effort pass into oblivion? I have over 80 items varying from 10-page essays to Doctoral theses with many hundreds of pages.

  • Mumming in works of fiction, conventional drama, etc
  • Obscure published material
  • Articles in local journals & magazines, leaflets, cartoons, Christmas cards, etc.

  • Obscure locations of material
  • Single items, such as a text of a local play, or collections of papers and letters.

    There are a number of past scholars who are known to have had an interest in Mumming but whose papers seem to be 'lost'. These include-

    • E H Binney. A schoolmaster in Oxford, d.1930. Some of his material is in the Percy Manning Coll at the Bodleian, but the rest is unlocated.
    • Tom Miners. (Cornwall)
    • William E Mitchell. Co-author of The Play of St George, the Knights & the Dragon. Papers last known of in private hands in Rochdale.
    • Thurstan Peter. Some papers in Cornwall, but not a play chapbook that he is known to have possessed.
    • William Sandys. A Cornishman who lived & died in London, where his papers were sold. Some are known in Cornwall, but his play material is unlocated.

How the Electronic Revolution can Inhibit Independent Research

The existence of many of the more esoteric items in the Collection was revealed by consulting many of the specialised published Indices which list and classify all the contents of a wide variety of periodicals and journals - many of them obscure.

Until recently, the annual editions of such indices could be found in printed form in University and other libraries, where they could be consulted by anyone.

Now however, most of these have become electronic. Because the universities have to pay large sums to use them, they are available only with those with the right passwords, which are only issued to faculty members and effectively exclude independent researchers. Even if one could pay to join the faculty, this does not completely solve the problem, as no one university subscribes to all the available indices. This can only be resolved by the introduction of a scheme which allows individuals to buy a password which gave access across the board.

Another aspect of the problem came with the demise of the Nett Book Agreement.

When this was in force, libraries could obtain a blanket discount from the Publishers' Association on all books bought. It was a very well-kept secret that one condition of this was the right of public access to the whole bookstock.

With the collapse of the NBA, this no longer obtains and some institutional libraries are excluding members of the public altogether. Others restrict public access to a few days per year, charging quite high annual sums for a full read-only ticket.

This can only be redressed by the Government making public money conditional upon public access

On a personal level, I have another problem. Even if I could get into an electronic index, I am very ignorant of the proper procedures and protocols and could not feel certain that I had made a complete search.

What I badly need is to find people who understand and have access to these resources and who would be willing to run searches for me.

If anyone out there can help, please get in touch and I will send you the details of my progress to date and what I have found out about the electronic versions.

Ron Shuttleworth

© Copyright 2000-2001 by Ron Shuttleworth (, Last updated: 21/03/2008
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