1st Edition

Barbara Bray, A Woman of Letters Translator, Radio Producer, Scriptwriter, Critic, and Theatre Director

By Pascale Sardin Copyright 2025
    270 Pages 10 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Barbara Bray (1924-2010) was an English woman of letters who translated some hundred novels, plays and essays from French to English and was Marguerite Duras’s preferred translator. She also collaborated with some of the most prestigious directors and playwrights of the 20th century – Harold Pinter, Samuel Beckett, Joseph Losey and Franco Zeffirelli – helping them write screenplays and radioplays. This literary biography (re)evaluates in a textual, sociological and historical perspective the social role of an English writer and translator in the history of ideas and contemporary art. Highlighting Bray’s influence in cultural transfers of ideas and literatures between France, Great Britain and the United States, it renders visible the yet unrecognised work of a female mediator and creator. It nourishes the debate about women’s public voice and the representation of women in the media industries and contributes to enrich the ‘other’ history that is being currently written by feminist scholars around the world.

    List of Figures


    Foreword by Francesca Bray




    List of acronyms and abbreviations


    1. Introduction – ‘Transcending cultural differences’ (1924-1952)

    2. Working as Script Editor during the ‘Golden Age’ of radio drama in the 1950s

    BBC radio before and after the War

    Bray as Script Editor

    Working with radio drama

    Meeting Samuel Beckett

    Promoting Harold Pinter

    A Broker of French Culture

    The art of adapting foreign pieces for radio

    On Leaving the BBC

    3. Freelancing for BBC radio in the 1960s

    Moving to Paris

    Continuity and Change

    Original Writing

    Working with Talks and Features

    A Humanist and a Feminist at Work

    Fighting for her Rights

    4. Working with the moving image in the 1970s

    From BBC radio to BBC TV (1964-1968)

    ‘Transposing’ Proust’s ‘story of a vocation’


    Ibn Saud

    An Enabler

    5. A Celebrated Translator in the 1980s

    Prizes and recognition

    Translators and the publishing industry

    The Battle of The Lover

    From Laurence Sterne to… Nestor Burma

    ‘Translaborating’ with Samuel Beckett

    6. Conclusion – Dear Conjunction (1991-2010)

    A Bilingual Theatre Company in Paris

    A Literary Activist




    Pascale Sardin is Professor of English Literature and Translation Studies at Bordeaux Montaigne University (France). She is the author of several books on Samuel Beckett and has edited two volumes of the journal Palimpsestes. With José Francisco Fernández she edited Samuel Beckett and The Languages of The World (2021). Recently, she also coedited Sexe and Gender in Samuel Beckett/ Sexe et genre chez Samuel Beckett, Samuel Beckett Today / Aujourd’hui, Vol. 34, Issue n°1, 2022.