Conditions Governing Access
Conditions Governing Use
Scope and Content
Title: Julius Berstl papers
Collection number: 0031
USC Libraries Special Collections
Language of Material:
11.26 Linear feet
Date (bulk): Bulk, 1901-1975
Date (inclusive): 1858-1975
Literary archive of the German emigre author and playwright Julius Berstl (1883-1975). The collection includes typescripts,
manuscripts, personal and professional correspondence, personal and biographical documents, theater memorabilia, and a small
number of literary journals, both in English and in German. Julius Berstl was born on August 6, 1883 in Bernburg, Germany
to a theatrical family. Upon graduation from university, he became the dramaturg, or literary advisor, of the renowned Barnowsky
Theaters in Berlin from 1909-1924. From 1924-1936, Berstl worked as dramaturg for the Berlin Gustav Kiepenheuer Theaters.
During this period, Berstl wrote two of his most well-known plays: "Chu the Sinner" and "Dover-Calais." But with the rise
of Hitler and the increasing restrictions on the creative arts, Berstl emigrated in 1936 to England. In 1943 he became a scriptwriter
for the London BBC, for which he wrote over 60 radio dramas. He retired from his work at the BBC in 1951 and moved to New
York City, where he began to write novels in earnest. His wife told him that after she died he should move to Santa Barbara;
after she passed away in 1964, he kept with her wishes and moved. He lived in Santa Barbara until he passed away in 1975.
Berstl, Julius, 1883-1975
[Box/folder# or item name], Julius Berstl papers, Collection no. 0031, Special Collections, USC Libraries, University of Southern
Conditions Governing Access
COLLECTION STORED OFF-SITE. Advance notice required for access.
Conditions Governing Use
All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Manuscripts Librarian.
Permission for publication is given on behalf of Special Collections as the owner of the physical items and is not intended
to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained.
Scope and Content
The Julius Berstl papers encompass a variety of documents that represent many of the important aspects of Julius Berstl's
life in Germany, Britain, and America. The Writing series features primarily typescripts and manuscripts for Berstl's novels
and plays, including handwritten edits and notes. Within this series there are also short form of writing by Berstl, including
notes on different writing projects, radio scripts, film scenarios, articles, and poems. Lastly, there are also some of Berstl's
German translations of plays as well as reviews and publicity for Berstl's novels and plays.
The Correspondence series covers both Julius Berstl's personal and professional life. Personal Correspondence covers letters
to and from Julius Berstl that were not specifically related to the business side of writing or theater. His correspondence
ranges from fellow writers, to actors and people from the theater, to close friends. Professional Correspondence includes
letters to and from Julius Berstl that specifically relate to the business side of writing or theater. His correspondence
ranges from publishers, to theaters, to film production companies, and more.
The Personal and Biographical Documents series features documents written about Berstl's life, sometimes in honor of his birthday.
There are also a number of documents that Berstl had collected from his own past and from that of his family, including school
records and information regarding the theater careers of his parents.
The Theater Memorabilia and Reviews series includes play advertisement posters, clipping and reviews of plays by Berstl, programs
from his productions, correspondence on theater related topics, and much more.
Lastly, the Literary Journals series features the few literary journals that Berstl had saved over the years, often because
he or a friend of his was mentioned.
Julius Berstl was born on August 6, 1883 in Bernburg, Germany to a theatrical family. His father, Norbert Berstl, and his
mother, Franziska Schreiner Berstl, were both actors and later directors in the 1870s-1890s. His mother had also come from
a theatrical family, and her own mother and father had been actors and directors in German theater during the 1850s and 1860s.
As a child he attended the Kaiser Wilhelm II Realschule in Gottingen and the Oberrealschule in Kassel. It was there that he
first began to write poetry, short stories, and plays, often engaging in student-run productions. It was during this period
that he first began to seriously explore the world of theater and writing. He studied German and English literature at the
Georg August-Universitat in Gottingen until April 1902 and then the Universitat Leipzig from April 1903 until March 1908.
Upon graduation, he became the dramaturg, or literary advisor, of the renowned Barnowsky Theaters in Berlin from 1909-1924.
Like many others his age, Berstl took leave from his job in the theater from 1916-1918 to fight in the German army during
World War I, but returned when the war was over. His brother Willi also fought in World War I, and was a prisoner of war in
Great Britain until around 1919. From 1924-1936, Berstl worked as dramaturg for the Berlin Gustav Kiepenheuer Theaters. During
this period, Berstl wrote two of his most well-known plays: "Chu the Sinner" and "Dover-Calais." This was an especially productive
period in Berstl's career, and both of these major works became popular outside of Germany; "Dover-Calais" was even made into
But with the rise of Hitler and the increasing restrictions on the creative arts, Berstl emigrated in 1936 to England. For
a period of time directly following his emigration, he worked on producing an English version of "Dover-Calais," working with
popular English children's author Eleanor Farjeon. In 1943 he became a scriptwriter for the London BBC, for which he wrote
over 60 radio dramas, mostly with Biblical themes that reappear later in his novels. While in England, Berstl also worked
as a German/English translator, writing German versions of plays by authors like Noel Coward, Jean Copard, St. John Ervine,
Aimee Stuart, and Archibald Norman Menzies. He retired from his work at the BBC in 1951 and moved to New York City, where
he began to write novels in earnest. During this period, he wrote novels based upon the life of St. Paul, an imaginary memoir
of Edmund Kean, and an autobiographical tale of his life in the theater. His wife told him that after she died he should move
to Santa Barbara; after she passed away in 1964, he kept with her wishes and moved. He lived in Santa Barbara, continuously
sending in new manuscripts to publishers and coming up with business ideas, until he too passed away in 1975.
Donated by Mr. Berstl in 1975.
Subjects and Indexing Terms
Berstl, Julius, 1883-1975 -- Archives
British Broadcasting Corporation. -- Correspondence
Busoni, Ferruccio, 1866-1924 -- Correspondence
Ewers, Hanns Heinz, 1871-1943 -- Correspondence
Farjeon, Eleanor, 1881-1965 -- Correspondence
Felix Bloch Erben (Firm). -- Correspondence
Georg Marton Verlag (Firm). -- Correspondence
Goudge, Elizabeth, 1900-1984 -- Correspondence
Johst, Hanns, 1890-1978 -- Correspondence
Mierendorff, Marta -- Correspondence
Niese, Hansi, 1875-1934 -- Correspondence
Tillich, Paul, 1886-1965 -- Correspondence
Von Wolowski, Kurt, 1897-1985 -- Correspondence
Walter, Fried -- Correspondence
Wicclair, Walter -- Correspondence
Wied, Gustav, 1858-1914 -- Correspondence
Authors, German--20th century--Archival resources
German literature--Archival resources
Theater--Germany--19th century--Archival resources
Theater--Germany--20th century--Archival resources