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Archive of the Author of ‘Doctor in the House’

Archive of the Author of ‘Doctor in the House’ by GORDON, Richard - Gordon Stanley Ostlere - Betty Evelyn Box; Ralph Thomas; Nesta Pain; Nicholas Phipps; Jack Davies (1955)
Author: GORDON, Richard - Gordon Stanley Ostlere - Betty Evelyn Box; Ralph Thomas; Nesta Pain; Nicholas Phipps; Jack Davies
Title: Archive of the Author of ‘Doctor in the House’
Year: 1955
Publisher: Various
Place: UK
Dust Jacket: No
Signed: Yes
Price: £2750
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Added under Manuscripts  

Richard Gordon’s archive containing his unpublished Autobiography and around 100 screenplays and typescripts for film, TV and radio treatments of his work - about 80 linear cm. Many of the scripts are annotated by the author and they are accompanied by a sheaf of his after-dinner speeches and a hi-spec advertising plan by Penguin Books for his much heralded first appearance in paperback.

Richard Gordon, real-name Gordon Ostlere, had caught a moment with the publication of Doctor in the House in 1952 and the ensuing 1954 film of Doctor in the House which starred Dirk Bogarde, Donald Sinden and Kenneth More made him a household name. This collection reveals the writer’s level of commitment to his new calling as hospital doctor turned celebrity writer and the quality of some of the comic writers brought in to adapt his work, among them John Cleese.

AUTOBIOGRAPHY BY RICHARD GORDON, typed label to card folder ‘From Curtis Brown, Ltd.’ and annotated by Ostlere: ‘Not for publication G Ostlere’ - repeated in his hand in red ink on the first leaf of the typescript. Compliments slip of Charles Pick, William Heinemann laid in. The typescript has a handful of autograph corrections and a few paste-over changes. Highly entertaining and entirely unpublished the Autobiography is not sold with copyright.

Gordon’s autobiography deals with his medical training and early practice, concluding with the overnight success of the publication of his first book: ‘When I discovered that I was doing rather better from writing about the healing art than from practising it I wondered how to put the outrageous suggestion to the Professor [his boss at the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford].... “My dear boy,” he declared, “I think it’s a perfectly splendid idea.” At that moment I saw that I had at last succeeded in making a real contribution to the advance of medical science, by giving it up.’

In the Autobiography Gordon emplyos a variety of pseudonyms and changed names. It begins: ‘There was never a hospital like it. Bats flicked down the long corridors at dusk, scaring the night nurses. Toads hopped among test-tubes of urine in the damp little clinical laboratories. Tomatoes ripened against the wall of the operating theatres... It was here I fell in love with medicine.’ Ostlere describes himself as a product of the 1920s, his Cambridge life, early love affairs, the impact of wartime on medicine, his clinical training at ‘Smithers Botham’ (presumably St Bartholomew’s) and a ribald chapter on Obstetrics at the Islington Lying in Hospital - ‘Like all doctors, I finished the medical course almost totally uneducated.’

Ostlere goes on to recount his experiences as a ship’s doctor on a trip to New Zealand, brief employment at the BMA and then the John Radcliffe Hospital and ends by describing the writing of Doctor in the House: Most of my Cambridge contemporaries now seem to be consultant surgeons, chief engineers, or bishops.... I am still a doctor of course... The hard decision to retires from medicine was made at Oxford.’

1. First Treatment, 9th Feb 1953 by Richard Gordon. c50 pages outlining 74 scenes with brief script, signed by RG, name and address of Dr Gordon Ostlere, Oxford.
2. Draft screenplay, 23/7/53, ff96, extensive annotations, Betty E Box of Pinewood Studios. Revised Screenplay, 12/8/53, cff20.
3. Shooting Schedule, J Arthur Rank for General Film Productions, Sept/Oct 1953, dates, locations and cast.
(The screenplay follows a group of students through medical school. It was the most popular British film of 1954 and its success spawned six sequels as well as the television and radio series, Doctor in the House, below. It also made a star of Dirk Bogarde.)

1. Film Treatment, 27/5/54, ff 75, annotations and corrections, Betty E Box, Pinewood.
2. Shooting Script 10/12/54, ff113, Rank for Group Film Productions Ltd, extensive annotations.
3. Shooting Schedule Jan/Feb/March 1955.
4. Doctor at Large, 1955/56, file signed by RG. Skeleton script consisting of 3 pages of manuscript by RG and 2 typescripts.
5. Second Draft Screenplay in Master Scenes by Nicholas Phipps, 20/12/55, ff112, some annotations, Betty E Box.
6. Semi final Script by Nicholas Phipps, 28/6/1956, ff 102 with two pages of manuscript notes and comments by RG; Betty E Box and J Arthur Rank.
7. Shooting Script by Phipps, 31/8/1956, ff 110, Betty E Box, Rank. Page numbers in pen on the title page refer to annotations and corrections by RG.
(Brigitte Bardot’s first English speaking film)

1. Screenplay by Nicholas Phipps, 6/12/57, ff 98. Rank. Single page of manuscript comments by RG, and also to cover of file.

1. The Captain’s Table, 1958. Final Shooting Script, 17/6/58, ff218. File signed RG, no annotations. Rank
Nuts in May, 1965.
2. Revised Draft Screenplay, 30/4/65, ff92, file signed by RG. Based on the book by RG, B Box/Ralph Thomas, Pinewood.

DOCTOR IN CLOVER, 1965. Screenplay by Jack Davies, 28/8/65, ff96, signed by RG. Betty E Box/Ralph Thomas Productions, Pinewood. Rank Productions Ltd

DOCTOR IN TROUBLE, 1969. Bound screenplay by Jack Davies, 1/12/1969, ff 122, signed by RG. Based on ‘Doctor on toast’ by RG. Betty E Box/ Ralph Thomas, Pinewood.

PROMOTION PLAN, One-off Penguin Promotion Plan for the simultaneous first publication in paperback of Gordon’s first four books on 29 June 1961. TLS fro Janette Peel at Penguin Book requesting that the volume be forwarded ‘to Dr Ostlere’. Comb bound with blue vinyl over oblong folio oards with the Penguin logo to the upper cover; 16pp, original artwork and specimen adverts tipped in explaining all aspects of a very expensive campaign: ‘Impressive Trade and “Public” Press Advertising’ and ‘Oh publication day a sales-clinching half page in Daily Express Britain’s most powerful advertising medium with a readership of 12, 292, 000’ . This was clearly the equivalent of laying out the red carpet for Penguin’s prestigious new client.

1. Doctor at Sea, script adapted for radio, ff 27, produced by Nesta Pain. Broadcast on the Home Service 27/8/53
2. ‘Science and Everyday Life. Help! Help! Man Overboard’, ff10, May 1952, BBC Light Programme
3. ‘Smoking’, ff21, July 1952, produced by Nesta Pain.
4. ‘Women in Medicine’, ff44, Nesta Pain, May 1954, Home Service.
5. ‘Smoking’ (New Production), ff 21, March 1954, Home Service, extensively rewritten but not by RG?, annotated.
6. ‘Commuter’s Tales. The Tale of the Midwife’, ff20, 30/4/71, Radio 4. Based on ‘Canterbury Tales’ format.


Curtis Brown Ltd file containing two A4 typescripts: ‘Charley’s Night Out’ by RG, ff5, which may be an introduction to ‘My War with the US Army’ by RG, ff42, short story.

1. Dr in the House lecture, ff34, draft and fair copies. Subject- medical students, some biographical details
2. Dr at Sea lecture, ff 40, draft and fair copies, delivered at Douglas, Isle of Man. Subject-reminiscences of life at sea. Signed Dr G Ostlere.
3. Lecture to the PG Wodehouse Society, 12/5/1959, ff21, Fair copies

9 files of celebrity writer’s talks given to:
Cheltenham Festival 1956, ff 23;
Edinburgh Reprint Society, ff6;
Netherland English Society;
Ashford book exhibition;
Canada - Canadian Women’s Press Club
Smith’s Literary Lunch;
Harrod’s tea time talk;
Oxford English Club.

One file for each, draft and fair copies. All of these are very similar in style and content, although of differing lengths, clearly reusing the same material but tailored to each event.

London Electricity Board lecture. Very different from the above, scrappy notes, stream of thoughts. Possibly one of RG’s first events.

Woman’s Hour, ff4, subject – my medical jobs. Dated after Dr at Sea film, late 1950s

Oxford Union Speech, 21/5/53, subject – ‘The critics’ rod should be wreathed with roses’. Gordon speaks against the motion, using many cricketing analogies. Fair and draft copy which is extensively annotated.

STORIES, List of 40 anecdotes used in RG’s speeches, and a long joke about shipwrecked seafarers and cannibals dated 25/7/58.

OLD SPEECHES up to 1970. A file containing postcards with speech notes and prompts. Many manuscript annotations and corrections.

TV REHEARSAL SCRIPTS, London Weekend Television, based on the books by RG, containing cast lists and running orders. ‘Dr G Ostlere’s copies’.

DOCTOR IN THE HOUSE 1969. Series 1, episodes 1 and 5-13 and Series 2, episodes 1-10. Written by John Cleese, Graham Chapman, Barry Cryer, Graeme Garden and Bill Oddie. (20 of 26 episodes)

DOCTOR AT LARGE, 1971. Series 1 episodes 1-13, and Series 2 episodes 1-15. Written by the above plus Bernard McKenna, Geoff Rowley and Andy Baker, Oliver Fry and Jonathan Lynn, and David A Yallop. (Complete – 28 episodes).

DOCTOR AT SEA, 1974. Episodes 1,2, 3, 4 and 8. Written by Gail Renard and Phil Redmond, Bernard McKenna and Richard Laing, George Layton and Jonathan Lynn. (5 of 13 episodes)

DOCTOR AT THE TOP, 1991. Episodes 3,4,5 and 6. Written by George Layton and Bill Oddie. (4 of 7 episodes)

Look-In Magazine, 1973. Junior TV times published by ITV, Doctor in Charge special illustrated feature and comic strip.
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