Lilly Library Manuscript Collections


The Hays/Brecht mss., ca. 1939-1981, consist primarily of a series of typescripts sent by German playwright and poet Bertolt Brecht (1898-1956) to his first American translator, Hoffman Reynolds (H.R.) Hays (1904-1980), along with drafts of translations and related correspondence and documents from Hays's Brecht files.

H.R. Hays was a New York playwright, anthropologist, poet, and sometime collaborator with Brecht's close friend, Hanns Eisler. In 1939, at Eisler's urging— and with his assistance in attaining manuscripts and publication rights—Hays undertook several pioneering translations of Brecht's works, including Mother Courage (1941), The Trial of Lucullus (1943), and Selected Poems (1947). This last volume, selected in consultation with Brecht, was the first collection of Brecht's poetry to be published in English. Hays also briefly collaborated with Brecht on The Duchess of Malfi, but quit in indignation when he discovered that W. H. Auden had been brought on to help with the project.

The collection is organized into the following series: I. Writings; II. Correspondence; III. Miscellaneous. Writings are divided into subseries: Dramatic Works; Poems; and Additional Works. The series contains early typescripts of the original German versions of Brecht plays noted above, as well as The Life of Galileo (a presentation copy to Erwin Piscator, dated 1939) and typescript versions of Brecht's poetry in both German and English. Poems include typescripts of several poems by the Austrian writer Franz Werfel (1890-1945), who lived in exile in Los Angeles from 1940 until his death in 1945, along with translations of the poems by Hays. Additional Works includes Hays's account of his collaboration with Brecht on The Duchess of Malfi.

Correspondents include Bertolt Brecht, Stefan Brecht, H.R. Hays, James K. Lyons, Hanns Eisler, Albrecht Betz, James Laughlin and John Willett. The Miscellaneous series contains performance programs, a newspaper clipping and a photocopy of a Massachusetts Civil War record.

An inventory and a finding aid are available.

Acquired: 2009-2011

Collection size: 76 items

For more information about this collection and any related materials contact the Public Services Department, Lilly Library, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN 47405. Call (812) 855-2452 or send an email using our Ask a Question form.