A rare script owned by acting icon Richard Burton is being auctioned online to raise money for Tarian Cymru’s PPE appeal.
Richard Burton was just 19-years old when cast in the 1945 radio version of the play The Corn is Green, which was produced by his long-term mentor, collaborator and friend Philip Burton.
This was a very early acting assignment for Richard Burton, who had not yet become a full time working actor – to say nothing of the household name he would become through his Hollywood successes and much reported relationship with fellow actor Elizabeth Taylor.
The script is typewritten and contains numerous notes and annotations which are thought to have been pencilled by Richard Burton himself.
It was discovered by the Welsh writer Richard King during the clearance of his parents’ home in Newport. The author states ‘I’m aware of a relation, possibly a great-great aunt, who worked at the BBC during the war and assume that it was through her that the script came into my family’s possession. My parents were also very active in amateur dramatics in the late 1950s at places such as Oxford House in Risca, so a local drama society that had used the radio adaptation script may also be a source’
The Corn Is Green was originally broadcast in January 1945 on the BBC’s Home Service. Such radio plays were a vital source of art and entertainment to a public coping with the prolonged ordeal of the Second World War. Richard Burton himself is known to have worked for the local wartime Co-operative committee, handing out supplies in exchange for coupons in the suburbs of Port Talbot.
Tarian Cymru distributes personal protective equipment (PPE) to health and care workers in Wales. Carl Morris, co-organiser of the appeal, said “We at the appeal were overjoyed to be given this amazing and fascinating script, which is of tremendous importance to the history of the dramatic arts, and of course Richard Burton fans. This auction is very exciting – it starts at 99p so almost anybody can bid. Who will become the lucky owner of this hard-to-find script? All the support for the appeal has been overwhelming, in all of its forms – from musicians, to organisations, to sports challenges, to donations from individual supporters, and auctions like this. Every penny that we raise by this and other means goes towards buying and distributing PPE for our health and care workers around Wales.”
- The auction and photos of the script can be accessed on eBay.
- Richard Burton was a Welsh actor born as Richard Jenkins in 1925 in Pontrhydyfen near Port Talbot and Neath. He was nominated for an Academy Award seven times, and is closely associated in the public consciousness with his second wife, actor Elizabeth Taylor.
- The play The Corn is Green was written by noted actor and dramatist Emlyn Williams – who was also a close friend of Richard Burton. It was adapted for radio by T Rowland Hughes and first broadcast on Saturday Night Theatre, BBC Home Service on 27th January 1945. Gladys Young and Jesse Evans also acted in the radio adaptation.
- The producer of the radio play was Philip Burton, who was Richard Burton’s teacher, mentor, and legal ward since 1943 – hence Richard’s change of surname from Jenkins to Burton. The two men would collaborate on projects and remain close for many years.
- Tarian Cymru (translation: “Shield of Wales”) is an all-Wales campaign to provide protective equipment to key workers. The fundraising campaign was started by volunteers on April 6th.
- The money raised has now passed £76,000, and over 200,000 pieces of PPE have been delivered.
- The fundraising campaign is run as a crowdfunding initiative on the GoFundMe platform, with a team of volunteers working to get the right PPE to the workers who need it most.
- Health and care professionals who are working without adequate PPE are advised to contact the appeal through the form.
- To donate go to the GoFundMe page.