Notebook drafts of Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett


Samuel Beckett wrote this undated English translation of Waiting for Godot in two small notebooks – one for each of the play's two acts. Beckett composed the original play (En attendant Godot) in French between 9 October 1948 and 29 January 1949. It wasn’t until January 1953, however, that the play received its world premiere at a small theatre in Paris.

This is not Beckett’s original English translation, although it contains a substantial number of differences, cuts and corrections from the printed text (first published in English in 1954 by New York’s Grove Press). Unlike the handwriting in some of Beckett’s other manuscripts, which is notoriously difficult to read, these notebooks are relatively decipherable.

Included here is a page from the opening of Act 1, containing a list of the five characters (subtitled ‘Personae’), the striking, minimalist stage directions (‘A country road. A tree / Evening’; Estragon sits on a ‘low mound’, trying to pull off his boot) and the play’s first line, uttered by Estragon (‘Nothing to be done.’).

Full title:
Drafts of Waiting for Godot. Two English holograph notebooks with author emendations, nd, box 6 folder 4, 163pp.
Manuscript / Notebook / Draft
Samuel Beckett
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Samuel Beckett: © The Estate of Samuel Beckett. The above selected images reproduced by kind permission of the Estate of Samuel Beckett c/o Rosica Colin Limited, London.

Harry Ransom Center: © Harry Ransom Center. The University of Texas at Austin.

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Harry Ransom Center, University of Texas at Austin
Harry Ransom Center, University of Texas: Series I. Works, 1930–1987. Box 6 folder 4

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