In The Shining no attention is drawn to it and it appears open, such that the page layouts are recognisable, only three times. This is perhaps why up to now, despite its essential role in King’s novel, the Scrapbook1 has been very cursorily dealt with — one might say “overlooked” — in most analyses of the film.2

Using conference material first presented in 2016,3 the aim of this article is to provide a brief overview of (probably) the most detailed analysis to-date of the Scrapbook’s current contents,4 together with a description of some of its supporting exhibits held at the Stanley Kubrick Archive at the University of the Arts in London (UAL).

The twins have names

It is not unusual when making a film for a great deal of time, money and effort to be expended on something which never makes the final cut. Nonetheless, at first sight the scale of the Scrapbook is striking. Unlike the document in the novel, which was bound in white leather with golden braid, Kubrick’s equivalent is of a mid-brown colour — a fact which will become significant later — bearing a gold-coloured inlay inside the edge which is also used to make the word “Scrapbook” in the bottom right hand corner. It measures 38cm x 43cm x 7cm and contains 262 unnumbered grey pages (131 leaves) which are bound together by a cord. Within it are 824 cuttings covering all but two of the first 247 pages. 54 cuttings give clues to their source, two to their date and three to both date and source. 626 clippings were traced back to 19 original newspaper titles from 19 different years between 1909 and 1978, (although there is no one-to-one correspondence of newspaper title to year). 395 pages from 208 different issues of those papers were used.

The first impression that strikes the reader on opening and browsing through the Scrapbook is that the contents are a random selection of articles cut from genuine newspapers. That they don’t even appear to be American just seems to reinforce the prop’s low profile in the film. Yet that was not the original plan.

In a script dated 2 April 19785 there are notes explaining: “We see pages with early photographs of the hotel; newspaper clippings pasted on them which document the lurid and sinister history of the hotel: murders, suicides and fatal accidents involving its legendary rich and famous clientele.” The same script notes continue: “We will film a visual impression of Jack spending hours sitting on the floor of the basement, poring through the pages of the Scrapbook. We will also show close-ups of the stories he is looking at.”

A production still of a scene not included in the film depicting Jack browsing through the scrapbook

A discovery scene, albeit not in the basement, was filmed but not used, but that “visual impression,” according to Alexander Walker, who helped to create some of the stories, was to have been a montage.6. Archive exhibits containing preparatory materials support that fact. In the novel, two Colorado newspapers are mentioned: The Denver Post and The Rocky Mountain News. The Kubrick Archive has 27 microfilms7 of these real-life papers, as well as over 300 photographs of pages from these (mostly front pages and headlines).

How these might ultimately have been translated into material for the film can be surmised from another box of 18 bundles depicting articles in various stages of development.8 Each bundle comprises: a photograph of an original newspaper article; a piece of paper with handwritten text including a headline; and then another piece of paper with the text of a proposed article. For example, one photograph of the headline THREE SOCIETY MEN ARRESTED BUT DO NOT APPEAR IN COURT was accompanied by the similar sounding but handwritten “THREE SOCIETY MEN ARRESTED AFTER OVERLOOK DRUGS ORGY.” Sometimes there was no correlation: the photograph of BANDITS ORDER PASSENGERS FROM BERTHS AND ROB THEM AFTER SHOOTING TRAINMAN is linked to “AUTO CHIEF HENRY FORD VACATIONS AT OVERLOOK BUT KEEPS TO HIS SUITE.” In the novel Henry Ford visits the Overlook in 1927, however he, like Al Jolson and Prince Edward, the then Prince of Wales, who were the subjects of other stories, were not the above mentioned “society” men.

Bearing no obvious connection to those bundles is a further exhibit9 containing about thirty large format articles on newsprint. These appear more appropriate for a montage than for the Scrapbook and include headlines with text as well as photographs in some cases. Some were inspired by real headlines from original newspapers. CLERK SLAIN IN HOTEL, FRIEND HELD BY POLICE relates the tale of Tony P. Stead aged 45, a clerk at the Overlook who was found shot through the head. While the story differed, the headline was a verbatim copy of one in The Denver Post, 26 October 1920.

Not all of these manufactured articles were based on factual incidents though. Over twenty appear to have been invented from scratch but by mentioning the Overlook they increase our knowledge of the establishment. CARETAKER AXES WIFE, TWINS, AT OVERLOOK HOTEL SHOOTS SELF is attributed to Charles E. Walker, reinforcing Alexander Walker’s involvement. It explains that Officers John Cassidy and Truman Wilson found the bodies of Delbert T. Grady (46) and twins aged about 12 who were called Rose and Molly. His wife was called Delphine. In HOTEL CARETAKER WHO AXED FAMILY MAY BE VICTIM OF CABIN FEVER, by the same writer, we learn that Grady hailed from Boston.

Other interesting mock-ups illustrate the difficulty of retaining consistency when making up stories. WOMAN DROWNS IN BATH AS HOTEL CELEBRATES JULY 4 describes chambermaid Anne Sykes finding the body of Mrs. Mary Fallico naked in the bathtub of room 237. The item has a photograph of the victim, an attractive and glamorous looking lady. The story is developed over the course of four subsequent, related articles. One indicates that Fallico was a pseudonym and the victim’s name was unknown. Next to the photograph on this last one is a handwritten comment by Kubrick wondering, “Where would you get a portrait of a nameless victim.”

So, evidently a lot of research, creativity and effort went into the background development of the Scrapbook and possible montage. Might it come as a surprise then that absolutely none of those fabricated items made it into the Scrapbook with its 824 cuttings; not a single one? As we will see though, that does not mean that there are no deliberately fabricated items in it at all!

The pages from the film

A logical starting point when researching the Scrapbook is with the pages explicitly shown in the film. The prop is clearly visible on Jack’s desk twice in the TUESDAY sequence. First we see pages 90 and 91. Not all the cuttings are visible but of the nine which cover the two pages, eight are taken from the Clapham Observer, a local newspaper from South West London. The topics of these (all taken from two issues dated 18 and 25 January 1952) include: the proceedings of the Battersea Parliament; the Mayor of Battersea addressing a gathering of elderly couples; a fatal motorcycle accident; shoplifting; insurance and poor building maintenance in Poynders Road. The exception, headlined THE TERRITORIAL BREAKDOWN,10 is about the Territorial Force (the then volunteer reserve component of the army) suffering 63,678 resignations in a single year.

After Jack tells Wendy to “get the fuck out of here”, two different pages are displayed. To Jack’s left is page 82 which shows three articles, two with photographs. The topmost, an article which could be dated but not traced, has the headline Witchcraft Case: Medium Found Guilty, concerning the trial of Helen Duncan, the last person in the UK to be convicted of witchcraft, which began on 24 March 1944. On page six is a second clipping about that story from the Daily Mail entitled Witchcraft Jury decline Séance Offer.11

At first glance you would assume that the photograph, being part of the cutting, would be of Helen Duncan, but she was much older than the woman depicted! March 24th, 1944 also marked the death of Major General Orde Charles Wingate, who died in a plane crash after departing from Imphal in Burma, and the picture is of his younger wife Lorna. But, like the witchcraft story having a second cutting, Imphal was evidently worth emphasising too. ALLIES GAIN NEW GROUND IN IMPHAL BATTLE (source unfound) on page 130 details the bombing of Burmese oil fields. Another intriguing coincidence arose while investigating the couples’ background. They met on the SS Cathay departing from Port Said in Egypt in 1933. On page 30 of the Scrapbook is the headline Mother Vanishes From Liner, Her Family On Board,12 about Helen Litton who went missing from the SS Chitral, a sister ship of the SS Cathay, after embarking at Port Said.

The second cutting on that page also contains two stories. One concerns comments Churchill made following a trip to the Vatican in August 1944.13 The second column is about horseracing with a photograph of the recently deceased Lord Ellesmere. The last of the cuttings on page 82, SET FIRE TO DANUBE,14 concerns an air raid carried out by B-24 Liberator bombers. Page 83 holds three articles from the Clapham Observer: two on council issues, housing15 and education,16 and a third on untruths in a court case.17

The final view of the Scrapbook with a discernible page layout occurs during Jack’s nightmare scene and is of page 154. Of five cuttings on this page, three involve accidental deaths. The fourth announces that parties, including a masked ball, for Queen Elizabeth’s Coronation might be delayed.18 The last concerns fund raising to buy part of Glastonbury Tor for the National Trust.19

The opposite page has only two cuttings. The first is about chronically sick people in the area,20 but also contains another story about an armed man in a police station. The second is about the inquest of a strangled baby found in Poynders Road.21

This last subject, murder, is the topic of about fifty cuttings, but one in particular constitutes the most featured story in the whole Scrapbook.

The Clapham Common murder

The initial impression that the cuttings are random is readily dispelled if you read them thoroughly enough to realise that some follow the same storyline. Over eleven extracts from the Clapham Observer concern the history of a murder that occurred on 2 July 1953, when John Ernest Beckley was stabbed. He was in a group of four, who were attacked by six youths including Ronald Coleman and Michael John Davies. The latter of these was convicted of murdering Beckley but his death sentence was commuted to life imprisonment.

However, it is Ronald Coleman who attracted the most interest. Like Alex Delarge in A Clockwork Orange he was intelligent, vain, fashion conscious and only fifteen years old at the time of the incident. Like Alex, he already had a record for aggression and anti-social behaviour. The day after his acquittal, he became the subject of a Daily Express article – not in the Scrapbook — which, in pithy journalese, made strong reference to Coleman’s Edwardian style of clothing. On the 23 September 1953 courtesy of this charismatic, (just turned) sixteen-year-old, the Teddy Boy came into being.

Interestingly and unrelated to this incident, a man called Burgess appears in four cuttings from four different weeks.

The duplicates

Careful reading also discloses that five of the cuttings are duplicated. Of these, two appear on page 205. Of these, one (also on page 12) is entitled Death Tale in Sign Language22 and originates from same page of the same paper as another duplicate, Hotel Scheme Thwarted. The other cutting from page 205 (and page 86) is Man turned himself into a human torch.[23 The Barnet Press, 14 April 1978.] This concerns Francis Adler, a twenty nine year old paranoid schizophrenic, under the care of a Dr. Bowman, who set fire to himself. Like the name Burgess, Bowman also appeared in four cuttings.

The concealed puzzles

If you’ve been thinking that the most likely place to find a secret in the Scrapbook would be on page 237 you would be right – if you included the inside cover as page 1. Using more conventional indexing it appears on page 236 — remember there are no actual page numbers – under a headline referring to people dying in their baths. (There are two further articles in the Scrapbook about deaths in baths). This cutting is fabricated to be like a typical newspaper article but blank spaces are deliberately left where key information should be, meaning the finder needs to research the background to fill in the gaps.

The story concerns Joseph Dunbar Medley, a man the police believed to be responsible for murdering redhead Nancy Boyer who, it says, was found nude in her bath. The same suspect was also connected to the deaths of two other redheads, one in Chicago and one in New Orleans.  Eleven years into a prolonged prison sentence he had been deemed sufficiently trustworthy by the authorities to deal with prisoners’ war bond contributions.  Unfortunately, on 27 November 1944 he proved sufficiently untrustworthy to abscond with $700 of the inmates’ funds while being escorted to a bond office in town.23.

Nancy Boyer was a well-connected socialite who lived in a prestigious capital apartment block called Washington House. However, contrary to the allegation in the manufactured article that she died in her bath, contemporary newspapers reported that she had been shot twice in the head on the morning of 6 March 1945. More consistent with the article description, on 17 February 1945 another redhead, Blanche Zimmerman, had been found dead in a bath in the Atlantic Hotel in Chicago. The autopsy reported that her death was result of mixing alcohol and Benzedrine, so although the room had been booked by Medley using a pseudonym, the police did not have enough evidence to indict him for her murder. Very similar circumstances surrounded the death of Laura Fischer, the first redheaded victim of this trilogy. Rather like the fictional discovery of Mary Fallico mentioned above, Fischer was discovered naked in her bath by chambermaid Lena Miller on Christmas Eve 1944 in room 722 of the De Soto Hotel — nowadays Le Pavillon – in New Orleans.

So what connects this puzzle to The Shining and how can we even be sure that Kubrick was aware of it and that it wasn’t a prank on the part of the props department?

There is a page entitled “Ending Ideas” included in Kubrick’s annotated copy of “The Shine,” as it was originally called, on which a handwritten comment by the director asks who “JDM” is. This suggests that he did at least know about Medley even if it wasn’t originally his idea. Moreover, the factual story concerns the deaths of three redheads and in the US version of the film three redheads can be seen in quick succession: the Overlook receptionist, Ullman’s secretary Susie and the doctor (played by Ann Jackson). Furthermore, the New Orleans hotel, located on Poydras Street was originally built as the New Hotel Denechaud in a suburb called the Faubourg St. Marie, close to an area known as Goose Ponds. Coincidentally, the opening shot of The Shining shows Wild Goose Island in St. Mary’s Lake in Montana.

There is another interesting coincidence between this story, the Scrapbook and Stephen King. While Medley was in prison awaiting execution, he managed to escape a second time. In a reminder of the famous prison escape in The Shawshank Redemption (Frank Darabont, 1994), Medley was later caught hiding in a sewage pipe near the Anacostia River. In the Scrapbook there are several photographs of stills from films, mostly associated with reviews. There is only one photograph of a film star away from the context of an actual movie. Taken from the Daily Mirror dated 16 August 1940, it is of Rita Hayworth. The name of the Stephen King novella which inspired the film was Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption.

Nor is this deliberately manufactured article the only one. There is another formulated in the same way on what would be page 147. It concerns the wartime arrest of a mother and son at their home at a redacted address in Stoke Newington, London, for promoting an enemy broadcasting station.  Tried and sentenced on the 22 June 1940, they were Violet Lilian Freeman and her son Rex Wilfred Freeman who lived in Kynaston Road. If there is a direct connection for this second puzzle to The Shining in the manner of the redheads and the bathtub deaths then it has proven elusive. However a glance at the map shows that running parallel to Kynaston Road is Dynevore Road which bears a strong phonetic resemblance to Denver. Boulder, the location of the Torrances’ home is not far from the Colorado capital, so geographic parallels seem common to both mystery stories.

But, if nothing else, the presence of these puzzles provides evidence to reinforce a comment Kubrick made in an interview with Le Monde: “Le film est construit comme un puzzle et je pose la dernière pièce dans la dernière image.”: “The film is built like a jigsaw puzzle and I place the last piece in the final image”24

Where the rainbow ends

To finish, let’s address one of the more provocative interpretations of The Shining and introduce another little conundrum. The allegation that Kubrick filmed the Apollo 11 moon landing is well known, but having just proven the Scrapbook’s perfect potential for concealing something, you’d have thought that if the director was going to embed a secret about the moon mission anywhere, it might have been there. The word “moon,” though, only appears in one (wartime) headline about a dying girl.25 Moreover, none of the traced cuttings date from 1969 nor is there any indication from their storylines that any of the unfound ones do either.

There is, however, something which might foreshadow a cryptic line from Eyes Wide Shut (Stanley Kubrick, 1999). On Page 20 of the Scrapbook is the Daily Mail’s weather forecast and Amusement Guide for the 4 December 1912. Amongst the theatre listings is a play which was due to start the following week at the Garrick Theatre called Where the Rainbow Ends (Clifford Mills and John Ramsay, 1911). That enigmatic phrase is prominently used in Eyes Wide Shut and most observers have connected it to The Wizard of Oz (Victor Fleming, 1939), so might the title of this play propose an alternative?

A page of a December 4, 1912 issue of The Daily Mail

The play’s plot is about a group of children in search of their parents, who are being held captive after a shipwreck. A novelized version was also published in 1912. A key feature in the story was the Rainbow Book, in which it was stated that, “all lost loved ones were found in the land Where the Rainbow Ends.” A description of the Rainbow Book was also given. It was a “yellowy brown-covered book with the title in letters of gold.” Given the discrepancy between the chosen colour for the film’s Scrapbook and that in King’s novel, could the use of the phrase “Where the Rainbow Ends” in Eyes Wide Shut be a later reference back to the Scrapbook?

In view of the above, we may conjecture that there may be more things concealed in a dimension of the Scrapbook, which we haven’t explored yet. After all, Kubrick did say to Michel Ciment, “some of the most interesting articles turn up on the reverse side of pages I’ve torn out for something else.”26


  1. SK/15/3/4/3.
  2. Loig Le Bihan, Shining au Miroir: Surinterprétations (Aix-en-Provence: Rouge Profond, 2017) contains a chapter on the Scrapbook examining its comparative use in book and film but also describing preparatory material and some headlines.
  3. Stanley Kubrick: A Retrospective held 11 – 13 May 2016 at De Montfort University, Leicester, UK.
  4. Recently published on-set photographs show Scrapbook page contents which no longer exist. When changes were made could not be determined. Tessa Davies, who was responsible for the Scrapbook died in 1988.
  5. SK/15/1/24.
  6. Walker, Alexander, Taylor, Sybil and Ruchti, Ulrich. Stanley Kubrick Director: A Visual Analysis (London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1999) page 365.
  7. SK/15/2/2/1/1.
  8. SK/15/2/2/1/4/2.
  9. SK/15/2/2/1/4/5.
  10. Daily Mail, 7 February 1913.
  11. While this cutting specifies a source newspaper this precise article could not be located possibly due to overnight edition changes.
  12. Daily Express, 5 June 1936.
  13. Daily Telegraph, 26 August 1944.
  14. Daily Mail, 20 April 1944. The found headline read “Six Airmen Set the Danube Afire,” implying a possible overnight edition alteration.
  15. Clapham Observer, 21 November 1952.
  16. Clapham Observer, 15 February 1952.
  17. Clapham Observer, 20 April 1944.
  18. Clapham Observer, 29 May 1953.
  19. The Times, 15 November 1932.
  20. Clapham Observer, 20 March 1953.
  21. Clapham Observer, 10 April 1953.
  22. Kensington News and Post, 7 April 1978.
  23. Le Bihan also discusses a theory concerning war bonds in Shining Au Miroir: Surinterprétations, p269. This is unrelated to the Scrapbook.
  24. Patrizia Moraz, “Il faut courir le risque de subtilité,” Le Monde, 23 October 1980.
  25. News Chronicle, 5 June 1944.
  26. Michel Ciment, Kubrick, (London: Collins, 1983), p181.

About The Author

Ian Christopher is an independent Kubrick scholar who, for several years, has been focusing on an in-depth interpretation of The Shining called The Games Room to be published by de Valion (ISBN 978-1-9163177-0-3).

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