This week brings “40 things” to a close. To mark 40 years of the MA in Creative Writing we featured 40 items, with a literary interest, from across our archives and special collections. The range of material that we’ve found has been fascinating.
UEA Archives continues to grow its collections and in this blog series we’ve given you a glimpse of the research materials to be found in our literary collections. It’s an exciting time for us, as in the New Year a group of stakeholders from across all relevant Faculties is being set up to oversee the future directions in which your Archives collections will develop.
Peterhouse, Cambridge. Copyright Peter Herring
To round off, we are featuring a note from a supervisor to his undergraduate student. This neatly written card from Kingsley Amis to Roger Deakin, advises Roger to keep occupied by reading more [Edmund] Spenser – including minor poems.
Deakin took an English BA at Peterhouse, Cambridge (1961-64). Letters and brief scraps of notes give some first-hand insight into his student experience in the early sixties at Peterhouse.
Deakin went on to teach English, and through his love of the outdoors was inspired to write Waterlog: a swimmer’s journey through Britain, and Wildwood: a journey through trees. His notebooks provided the source material for Notes from Walnut Tree Farm.
Roger Deakin Archive
Lord Zuckerman, circa 1965. Courtesy of the Zuckerman Archive.
This week we are highlighting some personal letters between one of the founders of the MA in Creative Writing, Angus Wilson, and Lord Zuckerman. It is 1970 and Wilson has an urgent problem: he wishes to create a scientific career for one of his characters. Wilson explains that his character has no concern for the application of anything he establishes, yet by the end of the book he should have made certain discoveries which could be of real social value to underdeveloped countries. Something along the lines of botany, zoology or biology would be more intelligible to Wilson, than say physics or maths.
Lord Zuckerman’s letter to Angus Wilson, 2nd July 1970. Courtesy of the Zuckerman Archive.
Zuckerman, a zoologist and scientific advisor, surprisingly ponders this amusing puzzle and provides three rather intricate scenarios for the character, and how his career may develop. Taking the trouble to develop this imaginary sketch is an endearing departure for Zuckerman, an intensely serious man, more usually concerned with the perils of nuclear weapons, the pressures of population growth and scientific policy.
The product of these communications can be found in Wilson’s later novel As If By Magic; one of the main characters is Hamo, a leading agronomist and inventor of a new ‘magic rice’ which can treble yields in India and South-East Asia. Too late, in the course of a world tour, he realises how his ‘magic’ can be abused.
The papers of Solly Zuckerman (one of the founders of UEA’s School of ENV) are held in the Archives, and comprise 1,000 boxes.
In a letter to Doris Lessing dated 12.3.93, the Nigerian novelist, poet, professor and critic, Chinua Achebe writes of his pleasure of speaking about books to Lessing and Edward Blishen at the BBC. The Archives holds just this one letter from Achebe, and an invitation from Bard College, New York to celebrate Achebe’s 70th birthday, by way of a conference “Achebe at 70”.
Courtesy of the Everest Collection, UEA
The Doris Lessing Archive includes correspondence with prominent Somali novelist Naruddin Farah, with southern African authors: Daphne Anderson, Bernard Sachs and Nadine Gordimer; and there are letters from the family of Nigerian author and environmental activist Ken Saro-Wiwa. The plight of Zimbabwe is covered in Lessing’s African Laughter (1992), in her autobiography Walking in the Shade (1997), and in correspondence relating to her visits to the country in 1996 and 1998.
Diary transcript, proofs of The Hostage Handbook, crosswords compiled in solitary confinement, and homecoming photographs.
Biographers and students on life writing courses may be interested in the archive of novelist and news correspondent Anthony Grey. It includes a transcript of the diary (written in shorthand and in secret) which Grey kept during his 2 year hostage ordeal in Peking in the late 1960s. Also included are over 300 manuscript crosswords which he compiled to keep his mind occupied.
There are photographs and correspondence, audio-tapes and television interview scripts. One gets a real sense of the tireless campaign to bring Grey home, and the celebrity status which came with his release; this was particularly difficult considering Grey had just spent 777 days in solitary confinement. On his release he was awarded the Journalist of the Year prize for 1969, the IPC National Press award, and an OBE. The Hostage Handbook was published in 2011 by Tagman Press.
Anthony Grey Archive
Malcolm Bradbury’s notes on Crime and Punishment and some of the major works examined as part of the MA Novel Course
Notes from the MA Novel course, 1989. The course concentrated on some major works of fiction where there was a useful record of writers having self-consciously analysed their own works, in the form of notebooks, diaries, and memoirs.
Authors include William Faulkner, James Joyce, Thomas Mann, Doris Lessing, Franz Kafka, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Virginia Woolf, Marcel Proust, Franz Kafka, John Fowles, Italo Calvino, etc.
Bradbury’s typed and handwritten notes outline the organisation of the course as well as the creative and critical perspective from which these selected major works were analysed.
The notes are contained in one ring-binder & there is a conscious effort to save on paper – unrelated course material and correspondence appear on the verso of most leaves.
Courtesy of the John Hill Archive, UEA
This month UEA welcomes Ramesh Pillay, Fellow of the David T.K. Wong Creative Writing Fellowship. Each year the Fellowship is awarded to a writer who wants to write in English about the Far East. The first Fellow of this generous grant was appointed in 1998 but correspondence amongst Malcolm Bradbury’s and Lorna Sage’s papers dates back a whole decade, to 1987. It was then that Wong outlined his thinking behind the Fellowship. The only requirement would be literary excellence and promise; and an intention to write seriously about some aspect of life in the Far East. The Fellowship would be aimed at the “beginning” writer but established writers would not necessarily be ruled out. The Fellow could be someone who has hitherto held a professional job, but who feels that he or she must give it all up in order to write fiction. “He or she would be the literary equivalent of a Gauguin.”
The papers reveal more of Wong’s idea of giving a voice to those who have been affected by and “flowered” in response to multi-culturalism.
Writing in 1996, Sage affirms that Wong chose UEA because he was looking for a stimulating environment in which a writer could develop his/her own talent and style, but she was also sure that students and faculty would also gain from the Fellowship, which would connect them to the world in a new way.
Lorna Sage Archive
Archives of Modern Writing and Literary Translation
Cecil Mary Leslie (1900-1980) lived in Blakeney, Norfolk. This collection from the children’s author Pauline Clarke includes original ink drawings by Leslie for Clarke’s books from the 1950s and 60s: James the Policeman, James and the Robbers, James and the Smugglers, James and the Black Van, The Boy with the Erpingham Hood (a story of Norwich in the time of Henry V), and Smith’s Hoard (a story based on the finding of the Snettisham Torc).
For a better look at these delightful drawings please contact firstname.lastname@example.org