STEINBECK, John (1902-1968). Typescript of the play Of Mice and Men. A Play in Three Acts. [Riverton, CT], May 1936. 113 pages, 4to, single-spaced, on rectos, blue paper wrapper, three-hole punches along left margin, disbound, wrapper largely perished along spine, some edgewear to text leaves. With approximately 10 pencilled notes in an unidentified hand (possibly Annie Laurie Williams?).
On the front cover is written, "Original script typed by Annie Laurie," and her name and New York City address are typed beneath the title. Annie Laurie Williams acted as Steinbeck's agent in show business matters, and according to her account, she and Steinbeck worked during the month of May 1936 at Williams' farm in Riverton, CT. Williams arranged for the stage production through Beatrice Kaufman, the East Coast representative of Samuel Goldwyn Pictures. Her husband, the playwright-director George Kaufman, was impressed with the novel and especially with its ease of adaptation into play form. Steinbeck was engaged to write the script, with assistance from Kaufman, for a production to open that fall. But Steinbeck was slow in getting to work on the project, travelling in the meantime to Europe. "On his return, Annie Laurie Williams cornered him and insisted that something be done, since the play was scheduled to go into rehearsals in only a couple of weeks. He agreed with her to go to her country place, an old stone cottage in Connecticut, and do the necessary work. When he arrived at the cottage, the first thing he did was to put his own coffee pot on the stove. After coffee, he went outside to look around. An hour later, Annie Laurie found him playing with the neighbor's children, and she had to call, 'John, come in here and get to work.' He came in, sat down at the kitchen table, and protested. 'But I don't know how to write a play.' 'Of course you do -- you already have,' his agent assured him. As it turned out, his reluctance was due to his not knowing very much about the mechanics of the form. So Annie Laurie sat down with him and from her experience as a reader of plays and as a frustrated actress, showed him where to set in the stage directions and mark the entrances and exits" (Jackson J. Benson, The True Adventures of John Steinbeck, New York, 1984, p.358). She later recounted that she set up a typewriter in her kitchen so that she could take dictation as Steinbeck paced about the room.