New Malcolm Bradbury material at UEA Archives

Early short stories in the Nottinghamshire Guardian
Early short stories in the Nottinghamshire Guardian

Malcolm Bradbury (1932-2000) was Professor at the University of East Anglia’s former School of English and American Studies (EAS) from 1970-1994. He co-founded (with Angus Wilson) and later directed the MA course in Creative Writing. Bradbury was a prolific writer of novels, short stories, literary criticism and television plays and series. He is probably best known for his fictional work The History Man (1975).

Now his son, Dominic, has added to his father’s existing papers by depositing hundreds of newspaper cuttings and magazine articles which span Bradbury’s writing career, beginning with his schoolboy writings in the Nottinghamshire Guardian in 1949. Humorous sketches in Punch give way to interviews on provincial identity and the perils of writing. In addition to writing original television series (The Gravy Train and Doctor Criminale), Bradbury adapted the work of other writers such as Tom Sharpe, Alison Lurie, Colin Watson, David Storey and Kingsley Amis, and contributed episodes to popular British television crime series including A Touch of Frost, Dalziel and Pascoe, and Kavanagh QC.

Five crates of radio/television & film scripts, along with printed lectures/essays, book jackets, biographical sketches and interviews, have now been added to the existing collections on American studies and creative writing. Listings of the new material are available online:

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Virtual exhibitions from Cambridge University Library

Cambridge University Library has recently been using a generous grant from the Howard and Abby Milstein Foundation to augment its provision of online exhibitions. The re-designed Exhibitions homepage has links to the resources in the new format, which have been created using a customised platform based on WordPress. Two recent virtual exhibitions in particular may be of interest to those involved with modern literary manuscripts.

David Holbrook letter

The censor’s mark on a letter written by David Holbrook from the Normandy beachhead, June 1944. From Cambridge University Library MS Add. 9987. Estate of David Holbrook.

Flesh wounds: David Holbrook and D-Day concerns David Holbrook, later well-known as a writer, educationist and controversialist, who landed in Normandy as a twenty-one year old tank commander on D-Day, 6 June 1944, and recounted his experiences in his autobiographical 1966 novel Flesh wounds, which has been described as ‘one of the few war novels that is conceived on the same plane as Wilfred Owen’s war poems’. The exhibition marks the 70th anniversary of the Allied invasion of Europe and draws on Holbrook’s literary archive, donated to the Library by his family in 2012.

Holbrook served in the East Riding Yeomanry, an armoured regiment which operated American-designed Sherman tanks on D-Day. The exhibition includes a letter, written on a NAAFI (Navy Army & Air Force Institutes) letter form, sent by Holbrook from the Normandy beachhead to his parents in Norwich, in which he describes the Nazis as ‘brutal overgrown boyscouts’, and says the Germans ‘fight cleverly & dirtily – chiefly in the evenings.’ An amended version of the letter was printed in Flesh wounds. Keep reading ...

Another letter on show was written in Leeds during Holbrook’s convalescence from an infected wound sustained during the shelling of his unit’s headquarters on 21 June, and shows an early formulation in prose of experiences that were later to form the basis of episodes in Flesh wounds. The display also includes sheets from an autograph draft of the ‘D+2’ chapter of the novel, recounting events in Normandy on 8 June 1944; this contains a lengthy (and highly uncomplimentary) account of the British Sten gun, and a comparison of it with its German equivalents and with weapons of earlier eras, which was largely discarded in the published version of the novel. Copies of some of the many printings of Flesh wounds, in hardback and paperback, are also included.

Holbrook returned to the sites of the Normandy battlefields in 1994 for the fiftieth anniversary of the campaign, and provided an account of his visit for members of his old regiment: a typescript of this short text concludes the exhibition, and gives an account of the wording on the gravestones of former comrades killed by the shelling in which Holbrook was himself wounded: ‘On the grave of Major Tony Fitzwilliam-Hyde [sic] it says, “The people that do know their God shall be strong and do exploits”. On that of Sergeant L Harness, “Whosoever reads his name salutes a mighty company who died that we might be free”. On the grave of Cpl. A. Emsley, “Proud and treasured memories of a darling husband and daddy. Age 23.”’

Czargrad draft

Section of a draft of John Riley’s poem ‘Czargrad’. From Cambridge University Library MS Add. 10038.

‘rhythm and line and necessity’: John Riley and Czargrad traces the composition of Riley’s poem Czargrad, a seminal work in the alternative tradition of British poetry exemplified by the so-called ‘Cambridge School’ in the 1960s and 1970s. Riley was born in Leeds in 1937 and was educated at Pembroke College, Cambridge, between 1958 and 1961. He took employment as a schoolteacher before leaving the profession to concentrate on literary work. He was killed in a street robbery in Leeds in 1978, aged 41. John Riley’s literary papers were donated to Cambridge University Library by his wife, Carol Riley Brown, in 2013.

Czargrad holds a central place in Riley’s work. Writing in PN review in 1981, Douglas Oliver called it Riley’s ‘broadest, most comprehensive poem’, evoking ‘an imagined, pristine, Eastern Orthodox city, shining a little with Byzantine gold, ambiguously holding out promise of true government, of true citizenship, and held in mind-sight by tremulous energies of artistic creativity.’ The poem, written in four parts in the years preceding Riley’s reception into the Russian Orthodox Church in 1977, uses incantatory language to interweave English and Eastern scenes with recurrent imagery of wings, water, flowers, leaves, domes and light.

The exhibition puts on display notebooks and worksheets containing a selection of Riley’s manuscript and typescript drafts of the poem, together with printed items and correspondence relating to the work. It draws both on the John Riley Papers, MS Add. 10038; Riley’s letters to his friend Michael Grant in MS Add. 10000; and the Library’s printed book collections.

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The Royal Literary Fund and the Perils of Authorship Symposium

Founder of the Literary Fund, David Williams (1738-1816) by John Francis Rigaud

Founder of the Literary Fund, David Williams (1738-1816) by John Francis Rigaud

The British Library Conference Centre

Friday 9th May, 10:30am-5:45pm (followed by a wine reception and an evening event)

The dissenting minister, philosopher and educationalist David Williams founded the Royal Literary Fund in 1790 in order ‘to withdraw those apprehensions of extreme poverty, and those desponding views of futurity, which lead Genius and Talent from the path of Virtue’, which in practice meant providing confidential financial aid to struggling writers. More than three thousand six hundred writers applied to the Fund prior to 1939, including luminaries such as Samuel Taylor Coleridge, John Clare, Leigh Hunt, Joseph Conrad, Bram Stoker, James Joyce, D.H. Lawrence and Dorothy Richardson, but also hundreds of less familiar figures. Their stories of their difficulties, as preserved in the Fund’s archive, stand testament to the enduring difficulties of making a living by the pen in the period between the French Revolution and the end of the First World War. The Fund’s Archive is held at the British Library, but large parts of it are available on microfilm at numerous institutions in the UK and abroad.

At this symposium, four noted scholars will each bring their particular expertise to bear on the Fund’s records, exploring the perils of authorship in the long nineteenth century from a range of perspectives:

Professor Jon Mee (University of York) – ‘General science, Political Disquisitions, and the Belle Lettres’: The First Decade of the Literary Fund

Dr Jennie Batchelor (University of Kent) – UnRomantic Authorship: The Case of Women in the Royal Literary Fund Archive (1790-1830)

Professor Josephine McDonagh (King’s College London) – Forms and Rituals of Giving and Receiving at the Royal Literary Fund

Professor Max Saunders (King’s College London) – Fund of Stories: Modernism, Life Writing and the RLF

The symposium will also feature an introduction to the Royal Literary Fund Archive by Dr Matthew Sangster (British Library) and a roundtable discussion to close the proceedings.

Tickets can be booked online at The fee is £15 (or £10 for concessions) and includes tea breaks, lunch, a wine reception after the conference, and entry to the subsequent evening event, ‘The Royal Literary Fund and the Struggling Author’, introduced by Sir Ronald Harwood, and featuring James Walton in conversation with Richard Holmes, Jeremy Lewis and Claire Tomalin; this will take place between 6:30pm and 7:30pm.

This symposium is a collaboration between the British Library, the Royal Literary Fund, and the Centre for Eighteenth-Century Studies, University of York.

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Survey on living authors and social media

The following request has been received from the University of St Andrews and the University of Dundee, who would like to hear from authors who use social media:

Archive staff at the University of St Andrews and the University of Dundee are looking for input from members of the Society of Authors regarding the preservation of an author’s social media content.

It’s only over the last two centuries that literary research through archives has evolved into the widely respected academic discipline that it is today. As a direct result of that literary archives are being collected and preserved in perpetuity across the world providing researchers with a unique insight into the inner workings of an author’s creative process. Access to this type of content is not only of value to those looking to deconstruct and analyse an author, their work and influences, but also to aspiring authors looking to hone their craft and seek guidance from those they admire. They are a truly valuable resource.

The research is looking at the attitudes of archivists and authors to social media and how they can collaborate to ensure an author’s social media content is preserved in perpetuity along with their print and/or digital archives. The research focuses on the digital legacy of the life and work of an author which may find its way into a specialist or institutional archive either by bequest, donation or purchase. It is the cultural norm today for published and aspiring authors to use an ever bewildering array of digital technology to write and draft new pieces of work, to build their profile and to communicate with friends, peers and business associates. Social media is one example of technology that is so ingrained in the way of life it is more instinctive, and efficient, to log in to Facebook, Twitter or a blog site and post information that can be instantly accessed by the public, than it is to write a letter.

To carry out this research it would be helpful if archivists could forward the following survey on to any living authors whose collections they actively manage.

Any help you can give would be greatly appreciated.

Kirsty Lee

MLitt postgrad, University of Dundee and Archives Assistant, University of St Andrews

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London Metropolitan Archives Spring Arts Festival, 11-12 April

There are plenty of literary activities on offer in LMA’s Spring Festival, from creative writing workshops and readings, to talks on archiving publishing collections and how to get you children’s book published. For full details see the LMA Spring Arts Festival programme.

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Russell Hoban Archive in search of a home

Russell Hoban, photographed by Richard Cooper

Russell Hoban, photographed by Richard Cooper

The archive of the late novelist Russell Hoban is available for acquisition. The American author who lived in London from 1969 to his death in 2011 is best-known for his books Riddley Walker, The Mouse and his Child and the Frances books. Institutions interested in acquiring the archive should contact Paul Cooper, who has been working on the papers at Hoban’s London home. More information about the archive and its availability can be found on, including an article by Paul Cooper on Archiving Russell Hoban’s Work.

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Hanif Kureishi on depositing his archive at the British Library

By Rachel Foss, Lead Curator of Modern Literary Manuscripts at the British Library

On Wednesday we announced the acquisition of Hanif Kureishi’s Archive at the British Library’s Cultural Highlights preview for 2014.

Hanif Kureishi Archive at the British Library. © Hanif Kureishi.

Hanif Kureishi Archive at the British Library. © Hanif Kureishi.

Hanif kindly agreed to join us for the press launch. An early start meant an improvised breakfast in the staff canteen, but over eggs and hash browns he shared his thoughts with me on how he thinks his archive will be used in the future and why he was so keen for it to find a permanent home at the Library. Click on the media player below to hear the interview:

The archive includes drafts and working material relating to all of his major novels, as well as over 50 notebooks and diaries spanning four decades. The collection also includes electronic drafts of his work in the form of Word files, including some relating to his new novel, The Last Word, which will be published by Faber next month. The Last Word tells the story of the relationship between an eminent writer and his biographer. It raises some interesting questions about identity, posterity and the inter-dependence of the writer and those who attempt to write about him, both of them being re-made in the process.

The first diary in the collection dates from 1970 when Kureishi was just 15 years old. As well as recording everyday events and reflecting on his writing projects, the diaries are deeply philosophical in places and highly introspective. They give some fascinating insights into the workings of a restless, questing mind which is always driven to know more; as he records of his friend and hero David Bowie, at one point, his is a mind that’s ‘interested in everything’.

Entry from a diary of Hanif Kureishi’s describing a meeting with Shabbir Akhtar, 13 May 1992. After the controversy following the publication of Salman Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses in 1988, Akhtar acted as spokesperson for the Bradford Council of Mosques. © Hanif Kureishi.

Entry from a diary of Hanif Kureishi’s describing a meeting with Shabbir Akhtar, 13 May 1992. After the controversy following the publication of Salman Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses in 1988, Akhtar acted as spokesperson for the Bradford Council of Mosques. © Hanif Kureishi.

Along with the drafts of Kureishi’s best known writing, such as My Beautiful Laundrette and The Buddha of Suburbia, are those of some lesser known ones and some surprises. The archive holds, for example, a draft of his adaptation of Brecht’s Mother Courage (written for the 1984 production at the Barbican with Judi Dench in the leading role) along with an adaptation written with his long-time collaborator, Roger Michell, of Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray, which was never realised.

We’ll be starting work to catalogue the collection in the next few weeks and expect to be able to make it available in the Library’s Reading Room by the end of the year. Hanif Kureishi will be headlining the Library’s Spring Festival at the end of March which this year focusses on the art of screenwriting. Hanif will be reflecting on his work in film and introducing screenings in an afternoon event on 29 March, My Beautiful Film Career. If you can’t make that, you can always listen to him discussing My Beautiful Laundrette in this British Library recording from 1986.

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R C Sherriff Project Archivist vacancy

The project archivist post (fixed term for a year) for the R C Sherriff Project at Surrey History Centre is now advertised on Surrey County Council website.  The closing date is 24th January.  It is also being advertised in ARC Recruitment and on the Archives Listserv.

For more information please contact Michael Page, County Archivist, on 01483 518756 or Di Stiff on 01483 518740.

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Cataloguing Creativity – papers now available

Sophie Baldock, Fran Baker and Bill Stockting at Cataloguing CreativityThanks to everyone who made our symposium on cataloguing literary archives such a success last month. For those who weren’t able to make it, a number of the papers are now available (on the Minutes & Papers section of the website). We hope to add more of these to the site in the near future.

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To Journey’s End and Beyond

RC Sherriff in uniform after enlisting c 1916 2332_Box12 (2)

R C Sherriff in uniform after enlisting c 1916

Surrey History Centre has received £56,900 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) for a First World War commemoration project, To Journey’s End and Beyond: the Life and Legacy of R C Sherriff. The project will preserve the extensive archive and celebrate the cultural legacy of the Surrey playwright R C Sherriff, in particular his play ‘Journey’s End’, the action of which takes place in a British dugout on the eve of the great German offensive of March 1918. Find out more on the Exploring Surrey’s Past website.

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