Lilly Library Manuscript Collections


The Sieveking mss., 1724-1971, consist of the papers of Lancelot (Lance) de Giberne Sieveking, 1896-1974, author, playwright, and pioneer of BBC radio programming. Sieveking was born in Harrow, a borough of London, England. He started to write stories at the age of six, and began his first novel when he was 13. Sieveking's education and literary ambitions were interrupted when the First World War broke out in 1914. Serving with the Royal Navy Air Service as a pilot, Sieveking's plane was shot down in 1917, after which he became a POW in Germany. After the war, he returned to England and attended St. Catharine's College in Cambridge.

The bulk of Sieveking's career was spent working for the BBC. Starting as an assistant to the Director of Education, Sieveking eventually moved on to adapting well-known novels, such as The Magician's Nephew, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, Journey to the Centre of the Earth, and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde into radio plays. He also wrote original works, such as Silence in Heaven, and was the BBC's drama script editor for ten years (1940-1950). Sieveking also worked in the early days of television and was responsible for one of the first British television plays - The Man with the Flower in His Mouth, an adaptation of Luigi Pirandello's play L'uomo dal fiore in bocca. The TV special, viewed by an audience that included Prime Minister Ramsay MacDonald, aired on July 14, 1930, and was considered a successful experiment. After retiring in 1956, Sieveking continued to write frequently, though many of his works went unpublished.

The family of Lance Sieveking is also represented in the collection. Prominently featured is his mother, Isabel de Giberne Sieveking, a writer and suffragette, as well as his grandfather, George Giberne, a judge who served in Bombay, India.

The collection is organized into the following series: I. Writings; II. Correspondence; III. Legal; IV. Genealogy; V. Miscellaneous; VI. Scrapbooks; VII. Photographs; VIII. Artwork; IX. Music; X. Audio-Visual; XI. Realia.

Correspondents include: Kingsley Amis, Frances Chesterton, J. Storer Clouston, E. M. Forster (letters signed "Morgan"), John Holms, Grace Hopkins, Lawrence Housman, Richard Hughes, Aldous Huxley, Hugh Kingsmill, Lajos Kossuth, C. S. Lewis, Alec MacDonald, Sir Horace Mann, Eddie Marsh, Eric Maschwitz, Somerset Maugham, John Nash, Paul Nash, C. K. Ogden, J. B. Priestly, Toulmin Smith, Albert James Alroy Symons, Julian Symons, Evelyn Waugh, H. G. Wells.

Writings include drafts and proofs of Sieveking's novels, stories, plays, and poems. Writings also include radio plays that Lance Sieveking adapted from well-known works by authors such as C. S. Forester, C. S. Lewis, J. B. Priestley, Robert Louis Stevenson, Jules Verne, and H. G. Wells. Correspondence is both personal and professional in nature, including letters from Wells and Lewis regarding adaptations of their work. Legal materials include BBC contracts and wills from various family members. Genealogy materials include information about both the Sieveking and Giberne families. Photographs include pictures from the First World War, including aerial photos.

Photographs include the following individuals: Sir Thomas Bazley, Paul Bewsher, Ethel Birkett, John Birkett, Matilda (Smith) Birkett, Harriet Bochete, Donald Brien, Emma Burton, Frances (Blogg) Chesterton, G. K. Chesterton, Mary Clare, J. C. Colvin, George Cowburn, Jim Stevens Cox, Sir Vincent Eyre, Edward Fitzgerald, Louis (Hodges) Flammond, E. M. Forster, Caroline (Buller) Giberne, George Giberne, Harold Giberne, Maria (Smith) Giberne, Mary Giberne, John Gielgud, Val Henry Gielgud, Hermione Gingold, Austin Blazer Gipp, A.P.H., William Herbert, Edward Hodges, Laura Hodges, Children of Laura Hodges, Mabel Hodges, Mildred Hodges, John F. Holmes, Arthur Hopkins, Cyril Hopkins, Everard Hopkins, Gerard Manley Hopkins, Evelyn Giberne, Edgar Giberne, Gerard Wlater Stirgis Hopkins, Grace Hopkins, Rev. Marsland Hopkins, Kate (Smith) Hopkins, Lionel C. Hopkins, Manley Hopkins, Milicent Hopkins, Richard Hughes, Augustus John, Philip Jordan, Hugh Kingsmill, Clara Lane, Emmie Lane, Alec MacDonald, D. Makalua, Eric Maschurtz, Emily Rebecca (Maynard) Meyer, Maud Cornelia Mitchell, Paul Nash, F.W. Newman, Charles Nicholson, Ivor Novello, Sir James Outram, Pearson, Jack and Kathleen Podmore, Rhoda (Broughton) Podmore, Anna (Keown) Seymour, William Herbert Seymour, Amelie Sieveking, Edward Gustavus Sieveking, Elizabeth (Podmore) Sieveking, Isabel (Giberne) Sieveking, Mrs. Lancelot Sieveking, Edith Sitwell, Edward Smith, Edward Blount-Smith, Fanny Smith, Dr. John Sim Smith, Charles Spencer, Rev. Samuel John Stone, Charles Tennyson, Hallan Tennyson, Arnold Thorke, Sir James Thornton, G.E. Vadmare, Arthur Vivian, Herwald Wake, Hugh Walpole, Sir Adolphus Ward, Jon Manchin White, Edward Wolfe, Y. Wuriu.

Artwork includes watercolors and sketches by George Giberne. Music includes sheet music that accompanied Lance Sieveking's radio plays. Realia includes hair from various family members, and a piece of a wedding dress

An inventory is available.

Acquired: 1977

Collection size: 15,000 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.