Collection ID: LMC 2744
Printable View Printable View

Collection context


Tynan, Kenneth, 1927-1980
The Tynan, Kenneth mss., 1939-2001, consists of manuscript diaries of director and theater personality Kenneth Tynan (1927-1980).
1 Box (1 standard)
English .
Preferred citation:

[Item], Tynan, Kenneth mss., Lilly Library, Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana.


Biographical / Historical:

Director and theater critic Kenneth Tynan, born in Birmingham, England, stuttered as a child but was highly precocious, and was already keeping a diary by the age of six. A brilliant pupil at Kind Edward's School in Birmingham, Tynan won a scholarship to Oxford at the end of WWII, where he became an intellectual and social leader among the undergraduates. Noted for his flamboyant dress and extravagant style, he wrote and edited Oxford college magazines, and was tutored by C. S. Lewis, for whom he retained a life-long admiration.

Tynan's active career as a theater critic began in 1952, when he was hired by the London Evening Standard. Two years later he left for The Observer and quickly rose to prominence, championing the new realism in the theater of "The Angry Young Men" and playwrights such as Samuel Beckett. In the late fifties he became known in the United States through a series of reviews in The New Yorker. In 1963 he was appointed Literary Manager of the British Royal National Theatre, where he established a global reputation. Controversy marked Tynan's later career, and his battles against censorship led to such works as the erotic revue Oh! Calcutta!, which became one of the most successful theater hits of all time. He remained at the National Theatre until 1973. From the mid-1970s on, he worked on a series of projects exploring sexual themes, including sadomasochism. Tynan died in Santa Monica, California in 1980 at the age of 53. The publication of his diaries in 2001 led to renewed controversy due to their frank discussion of sexuality and his personal life. The editor of the diaries noted in his introduction that passages were omitted that the publishers thought might lead to charges of slander.

Scope and Content:

The collection consists of manuscript diaries of director and theater personality Kenneth Tynan. The first series, Diaries, 1970-1980, consists of twenty-five individually bound handwritten diaries chronicling the last ten years of Tynan's life, 1970-1980. The second series, Earlier Diaries, includes Tynan's unpublished volumes from the years 1939 (when he was twelve) and 1941 (at the age of fourteen, during the Second World War) and offers insights into this early period of his life. The final series, Writings, features a proof typescript of The Diaries of Kenneth Tynan, a book covering the aforementioned 1970-1980 period, edited by John Lahr, and published by Bloomsbury in 2001.

Acquisition information:
Acquired: 2011
Processing information:

Processed by Craig Simpson.

Completed in 2011.


This collection is arranged into the following series: I. Diaries, 1970-1980; II. Earlier Diaries; and III. Writings.

Physical location:
Lilly - Stacks



This collection is open for research.

Many collections are housed offsite; retrieval requires advance notice. Please make an appointment a minimum of one week in advance of your visit.


Photography and digitization may be restricted for some collections. Copyright restrictions may apply. Before publishing, researchers are responsible for securing permission from all applicable rights holders, then filling out the Permission to Publish form.


[Item], Tynan, Kenneth mss., Lilly Library, Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana.

Indiana University Bloomington
1200 East Seventh Street
Bloomington, Indiana 47405-5500, USA
Indiana University Bloomington
(812) 855-2452