Dramatic deadline

February 21, 1997

(Photograph) - Dramatic deadline: Leicester University is pulling out all the stops to raise Pounds 80,000 by the end of June in order to secure a piece of literary history for the nation.

The papers of playwright Joe Orton, above, have been offered to the university on condition that the money is raised by the deadline. If not they will go on the open market.

The collection consists of annotated typescripts, notes and many unpublished works. Orton was battered to death by his lover in 1967. But his sister, Leonie Barnett, said the family wished the papers to remain in Orton's birthplace.

Timothy Hobbs, university librarian, said: "These are fascinating papers by one of Britain's leading playwrights of the 20th century. We very much hope we can obtain them for the university but it is a race against time."

Sir Peter Hall, artistic director of the Old Vic, has agreed to become patron of the fundraising campaign which was launched on Friday with a performance of Orton's What the Butler Saw, first staged two years after his death.

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