Berta Freistadt Archive


Berta Freistadt (1942 – 2009) was Lesbian-feminist playwright, stage director, novelist, teacher and performance poet.

Born in the North of England, her mother was of Irish-Scottish descent and her father an Austro-Czech Jewish refugee. The family moved to London while Berta was still a child and she attended Wimbledon High School, where she studied drama. Teaching, both in east London secondary schools and at Birkbeck College supplemented her wide-ranging output as a writer of short stories and poetry. Her work was published in numerous anthologies arising from the women’s movement. Her obituary in The Guardian notes that “her work, with its nuanced style and wry, humorous tone, punctured many orthodoxies”

Notable published works include: Dope Smoking Lesbians Can Never Be Good Teachers (1990) and A Fine Undertaking (1984), set in a funeral parlour, which slyly parodied lesbian rallies.

During the 80s her plays were performed in London, Canada, Ireland, the Netherlands & Australia. Among them The Baby Factory (1976) and Keely’s Mother (1978) and a dramatisation of A Fine Undertaking(1985).

In 1996 she was awarded a Fiji film bursary and was short-listed for a BAFTA short film award for her screenplay The Wall

What the collection holds

The Berta Freistadt Collection held as part of the Bristol University Theatre Collection contains approximately 425 documents, personal letters, applications for theatre work and references to her own plays, as well as plays she appeared in as an actor.

The collection also includes some funding-related correspondence addressed to a Mr B R Fry (almost certainly a pseudonym).

The online catalogue for this collection can be viewed here: 
BF - Berta Freistadt Archive

Further information

Catalogue for a 2010 Berta Freistadt Exhibition (PDF, 304kB) 

image for Berta Freistadt collection page
Berta Freistadt (1942 – 2009) Image credit: University of Bristol Theatre Collection
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