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William Hauptman

A Guide to the William Hauptman Papers, 1954-1993

(bulk 1975-1993)

4 linear feet
4 document cases, 1 map folder
Acquisition:  Gift donated by Hauptman, 1994.
Access:  Direct inquiries to Archivist, Southwestern Writers Collection, Albert B. Alkek Library, 601 University Drive, San Marcos, Texas  78666-4604.  (512) 245-2313.
Processed by:  Amanda Oates, 2000.
Biographical Note:
Playwright and novelist William Thornton Hauptman was born November 26, 1942, in Wichita Falls, Texas, to working-class parents raised in the Midwest. As a child in Wichita Falls, Hauptman attended many plays, readings, and magic shows in the large municipal auditorium there, and saw such actors as Charles Laughton and Gene Autry. He graduated from Wichita Falls Senior High School in 1961, and earned a B.F.A. in Drama from the University of Texas in 1966. His undergraduate degree focused on acting; Hauptman did not  decide until graduate school that he wanted to pursue playwrighting. He completed an MFA in playwrighting at Yale University School of Drama in 1973. He then went on to teach playwrighting at Adelphi College in Garden City, NY, 1973-75, and at Yale University School of Drama, 1976.
Soon thereafter Hauptman became the recipient of numerous grants which enabled him to pursue his writing full time. He won playwrighting grants from CBS (1977), the National Endowment for the Arts (1977), and the Guggenheim Foundation (1978).  Many award-winning plays followed.  The first was a Distinguished Playwrighting/Obie Award for “Domino Courts/Comanche Café” 1978. For “Denmark Vesey” (1981 PBS teleplay) he won a NAACP Freedom Foundation Award and an Emmy Award nomination. For “Big River” (1985), a Broadway musical based on Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, with music written by Roger Miller, he earned a Tony Award for Best Musical Book, Boston Theater Critics Circle Award for Best New Musical, San Diego Theatre Critic’s Circle for Award for Best New Play. For the play Gillette, he won Los Angeles Drama League Award for Distinguished Playwrighting (1986). For Good Rockin’ Tonight and Other Stories (1986), he received the Jesse Jones Award for Best Fiction by a Texas Author from Texas Institute of Letters.
“There is a remarkable wholeness about William Hauptman’s dramatic writing that transcends the working-class milieu in which his plays are set… An awareness of the outdoors, the land, and the forces of nature permeates the writing and generates some striking scenic images. The visual sensibility is supplemented by his strongly imaginistic use of sound: the distant dog bark that ends Domino Courts, the low rumble that seems to comment on Carroll’s line “Now can we have some peace and quiet, right honey?”, in Heat, a passing train, the howl of a coyote, droning cicadas, and specific musical selections that often mock a character’s pipe dreams.” (Contemporary Dramatists, 6th ed., St. James Press, 1999.)
Hauptman served as Associate Professor at the Texas Center for Writers in 1996, and returned in 2000 to continue teaching. His novel, The Storm Season, originally published by Bantam Books in 1992, was published as a reprint edition by the University of Texas Press in Fall 2000, as part of the Southwestern Writers Collection Series.
Works published:
                        Shearwater, American Place Theater, New York City, published in Performance Magazine, 1974
                        Heat (1977)
                        Domino Courts / Comanche Café  (1977)
                        Durango Flash
                        Big River (1986)
                        Gilette (1985) 
                        “Denmark Vesey’s Rebellion” (an episode for PBS series
 “A House Divided” (1981)
            Short Stories
                        Good Rockin’ Tonight and Other Stories. New York : Bantam Books,
                        The Storm Season. New York : Bantam, 1992.
Scope and Contents
Drafts, manuscripts, typescripts, notes, photographs, and correspondence comprise this collection, which was created and maintained by William Hauptman, with dates ranging from 1956-1993.  This material has been arranged into the following series: 1. Works, 2. Photographs, and 3. Artifacts. The bulk of the collection is comprised of manuscript and typescript drafts of Hauptman’s works, mostly his plays and screenplays, with sparse correspondence and publicity. Early works include a 1956 short story titled “Wild Life in Canada” (1956), complete with drawings of characters. A letter from Hauptman to Roger Miller regarding their collaboration on the award-winning play “Big River”, is located with the typescript of that play. Of additional note are the poetry, journal entry, and short story which developed into the novel, Storm Season, as well as correspondence from Hauptman to editor Debbie Futter, at Bantam, Doubleday, Dell, regarding, among other things, the title of the novel.
Published works cataloged separately.
Series descriptions :
Series 1 : Works (1954-1993)
Drafts, manuscripts, and typescripts of Hauptman’s plays, teleplay, screenplays, short stories, poetry, novel, articles and criticism are located in this series. Titles under each genre are filed alphabetically. Related correspondence, reviews, clippings, publicity, and playbills are filed after the draft or script for each title.
Series 2 : Photographs (1983, n.d.)
Color 3.5”x5” snapshots taken and annotated by Hauptman document people (including Hauptman’s brother and father), places (including Wichita Falls and the Oklahoma Union Power Plant), and various tornadoes and cloud formations.
Series 3 : Artifacts (n.d.)

This series includes a harmonica owned by Hauptman.