Painted advert advert for Whale Music, first performed at the University in June 1980

Papers of Anthony Minghella


Anthony Minghella was a playwright, screenwriter and film director, working on stage, radio and screen. Born on 6 January 1954 on the Isle of Wight to ice cream factory owners Gloria and Edward Minghella, he attended Sandown Grammar School and St. John's, Portsmouth. 

He studied Drama at the University of Hull, graduating with a first class degree, and went on to become a lecturer in the Department, staying at the University for ten years in total. He studied for (but later abandoned) a doctoral thesis on Samuel Beckett, whose writing was a major influence on his work. While at Hull in 1975 he produced his first play, a stage adaptation of Gabriel Josipovici's story Mobius the Stripper performed at the university, followed by a performance of Child's Play in 1978. 

It was with Whale Music, first performed at the University in June 1980 before appearing in London's West End in 1981, that he made his first impression on the theatre industry. Made in Bangkok marked Minghella's West End debut in 1986. His first radio play Hang Up was broadcast in 1987, and revived on 10 May 2008 as part of the BBC Radio 4 Minghella season. The London Theatre Critics voted him Most Promising Playwright in 1984 and gave him a Best New Play award for Made in Bangkok in 1986. His BBC radio play Hang Up won the Prix Italia in 1988 and Cigarettes and Chocolate won the 1989 Giles Cooper Award and 1989 Sony Award. This play was also revived for the stage in the late 1990s, when it received positive reviews from performances in Vienna and Berlin. 

Minghella's career in television began during the 1980s as a runner on Magpie, followed by a job as a script editor on the children's television programme Grange Hill. He then went on to write scripts for Inspector Morse, Storyteller and Living with Dinosaurs. One of his last projects was a television adaptation of The No1 Ladies' Detective Agency, which he co-wrote and directed, and which was broadcast after his death, in March 2008.

Minghella's first feature film, A Little Like Drowning, was filmed on the Isle of Wight in 1977 and the story was later performed as a play in the 1980s. Truly Madly Deeply, originally written for the BBC, went on to a cinema release and received a BAFTA award. His adaptation of The English Patient, for which he both directed and wrote the screenplay, won nine Academy Awards including Best Director, and The Talented Mr Ripley was nominated for five Academy Awards. Minghella was executive producer on The Quiet American and The Interpreter, and he also appeared in the 2007 film Atonement.

Minghella made his operatic debut directing Puccini's Madama Butterfly for the English National Opera in 2005. This critically acclaimed version, which won a Laurence Olivier Award, was also performed at the Lithuanian National Opera and at the Metropolitan Opera in New York in 2006.

Minghella was Chairman of the British Film Institute from 2003-2007. He was awarded an honorary DLitt by the University of Hull in 1997, and was awarded a CBE in 2001. 

Minghella died suddenly on 18 March 2008, aged 54, leaving behind his wife, Carolyn Choa, a son, Max, and a daughter, Hannah. The Anthony Minghella Theatre at the Quay Arts Centre on the Isle of Wight is named in his honour.

What can the collection be used for?

The collection can be used to study Minghella's work for stage and radio. His adaption of Madama Butterfly is especially well represented, allowing the researcher to follow the creative process, including the set design, quite closely.   

What records will I find in the collection?

The collection (ref U DTM) contains material relating to Anthony Minghella’s works for stage and radio, including workbooks, scripts, correspondence, articles, reviews and press cuttings, as well as advertising and programmes. A significant proportion relates to Minghella's production of Madama Butterfly.

The collection is arranged as follows: 
U DTM/1 A Little Like Drowning
U DTM/2 Child's Play
U DTM/3 Cigarettes and Chocolate
U DTM/4 Just Desserts
U DTM/5 Love Bites
U DTM/6 Madama Butterfly
U DTM/7 Made in Bangkok
U DTM/8 Men Only
U DTM/9 Mobius the Stripper
U DTM/10 Mosaic
U DTM/11 The Scientist's Kiss
U DTM/12 Self Assembly
U DTM/13 Two Planks and a Passion
U DTM/14 Whale Music. The collection
U DTM/15 Press cuttings
U DTM/16 Miscellaneous

How do I access the Collection?

The collection is available for anyone to use. Please search our online catalogue to locate specific documents.

Access conditions

Access to unrestricted material will be granted to any accredited reader. 

Is there other material relating to Anthony Minghella and his work?

Other material relating to Minghella can be found in U DX364 Scripts of Anthony Minghella.

Anthony Minghella's papers relating to his work for screen (television and film) have been deposited with the British Film Institute.