As The Story Was Told (1996), a two-part documentary featuring interviews with authorised biographer James Knowlson, publishers John Calder and Barney Rosset, actress Billie Whitelaw, nephew Edward Beckett, and others. The documentary is notable, in part, for its glimpses of Beckett’s home in Paris and his country retreat in Ussy-sur-Marne.

Mel Gussow talks to Samuel Beckett’s nephew about the writer’s life and productions of his work
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Edward Beckett

Mel Gussow: At what point did [Samuel Beckett] tell you he was going to make you an executor?

Edward Beckett [nephew]: In the last eight months before he died, he asked me if I would help Lindon [his publisher] in looking after things because he realised it was just too much and also that Lindon wasn’t an English speaker and would need a bit of help. I said, of course I would do it. I think he said it would be a lot of work. I couldn’t imagine what work there would be. It was something I took on readily. Obviously at the beginning, just because of the nature of things there were a lot of things happening. I had to find my feet, find the way things had to be administered and had to be run, and to meet the people. Then there was a quiet period, and then a second phase came along, when people start thinking what can they do. People probably think I spend every day, but I don’t. I can keep on with music quite well but I do devote quite a lot of time to correspondence and seeing people.

MG: Do you approve all productions?

EB: No, basically, a lot of the standard productions are approved by the agents. It’s understood that stock productions, small theatres around the country, schools, institutions can go by on the nod. There’s nothing controversial about those. Obviously when there’s something bigger than that, a major tour or a new West End production, then we get involved. (more…)

Stephen Moss (The Guardian) traces Beckett’s lifelong fascination with the game
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Samuel Beckett
Beckett had a lifelong interest in chess and was a keen player, following many of the big matches, says his nephew, Edward, who oversees the Beckett estate. Samuel was taught to play by his elder brother, Frank, and by his uncle, Howard, who achieved the remarkable feat of beating the Cuban José Raúl Capablanca, later world champion, at an exhibition in Dublin. There are a score of chess books in the library of Beckett’s old flat in Paris, which is now occupied by Edward and his wife. Beckett played regularly with friends during the second world war, when he was holed up in France working for the Resistance; he liked to annotate master games – the chess books in his library are full of comments – and corresponded with Spanish playwright and fellow chess aficionado Fernando Arrabal. In the early 1940s, he also played – and lost to – Marcel Duchamp, an expert on the game who wrote a chess column for the Paris newspaper Ce Soir.

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