Curating the Lee Child Archive – a glimpse behind the scenes

A blog from Chase Placement student, Elspeth Latimer, Curatorial Assistant of the Lee Child Archive during 2019-20 and Curator of the Noirwich 2019 Crime Writing Exhibition, featuring archive material from Louise Doughty (pictured) and Denise Mina.

In the basement of UEA library, safely stored in an air-conditioned vault, are Lee Child’s handwritten early drafts, diagrams, notebooks, typescripts, publisher correspondence, fan mail, memorabilia. This unique literary archive gives the inside scoop on the making of Jack Reacher, one of the most iconic figures of contemporary crime fiction, and for the past 14 months I’ve had the privilege of spending a day a week as curation assistant at the British Archive for Contemporary Writing (BACW), helping to organise, preserve and catalogue 40 boxes of material, ready for the public launch of the Lee Child Archive in 2021.

Under the expert guidance of lead curator Justine Mann, I’ve acquired a host of new skills and got to grips with the protocols of working in an archive. I’m studying the Jack Reacher series as part of my creative-critical PhD on how character is constructed and maintained in crime fiction series, and my doctorate was already underway when Child deposited his archive here. Thanks to my funding body, the Consortium for the Humanities and the Arts South-east England, I was able to arrange a placement at BACW.

Curating Lee Child’s archive has shown me the journey from those first pencilled pages to a crime series that is read across the globe. It is a thrill to watch a work of literature take shape before your eyes. A literary archive allows you to be there in the private moment with the author, see and hold the original notes and pages, sharing the steps the work has taken, from first draft to final proofs. A published book has a fixity, and there is a real excitement in glimpsing this creation when it is still in flux.

It has been a joy to examine the early drafts of Child’s novels, to read his margin notes and edits and observe his craft, and this has helped me develop as a crime writer myself. I’ve also had the chance to view the fan mail Lee Child has received over the years. Jack Reacher is only words in a book, but he means a great deal to a lot of people and their letters are very moving. In addition to working on Child’s archive, I designed and curated the BACW exhibition at the 2019 Noirwich Crime Writing Festival. Louise Doughty and Denise Mina loaned material associated with their latest novels, including notebooks, photographs, early typescripts, structure notes, and it was fascinating to devise an exhibition around these items, giving visitors an insight into the creative process.

My placement at BACW is at an end, but once the Lee Child Archive opens in late 2021, I will be back, and embarking on new research. Lee Child is a key literary figure, in the UK and internationally, and his archive is going to catalyse global scholarship. I am excited to see the studies that emerge, but I am also pleased that the archive will allow his many fans to view this material. We are very lucky to have the BACW here in Norwich. It is an asset for all of us, a wealth of creative and intellectual possibilities.

@ElspethLatimer #crimewriter UEA Prose Fiction MA. @CHASE_DTP Creative Writing PhD on crime series. LL Mslexia novel comp. Former assistant @LeeChildReacher  @UEAarchives 


Lockdown Snippet #04: Lockdown causing record falls in CO2 emissions

G S Callendar 1934

G.S. Callendar Archive, UEA

In the light of this unexpected reduction in travel and emissions we’re featuring an amateur meteorologist who took more than a keen interest in measuring the effects of our movement on climate. We imagine that if he were alive now he’d be super excited and taking every opportunity to gather and examine our current data.

Guy Stewart Callendar (1898-1964), a noted steam engineer and amateur meteorologist, revived the 19th century carbon dioxide theory of climate change in 1938 with the publication of his paper ‘The Artificial Production of Carbon Dioxide and its Influence on Temperature’.

GSCandPBC_ca1960 - Credit

Guy and Phyllis Callendar, 196-

Although an amateur, Callendar was working from his home in West Sussex on a truly gobal scale analysing world data and formulating a coherent theory of infrared absorption by trace gases.

Through World War II he published two papers while working on technical problems (including infrared absorption) with the Ministry of Supply. In 1944 climatologist Gordon Manley noted Callendar’s valuable contributions to the study of climatic change. A decade later, Gilbert Plass and Charles Keeling consulted with Callendar as they began their research programs. Just before the beginning of the International Geophysical Year in 1957, Hans Seuss and Roger Revelle referred to the ‘Callendar effect’, defined as climatic change brought about by anthropogenic increases in the concentration of atmospheric carbon dioxide, primarily through the processes of combustion. In other words, caused by the use of fossil fuels.


Guy Callendar’s notebook on CO2, 1939-1940.

The G.S. Callendar Archive contains some 95 notebooks (1936-1964) and documents containing data, charts, notes, readings and formulae concerning temperature and climate as far back as 1751 and in locations across the world; letters, reviews and many candid insights into the state of climate science between 1936 and 1964.

The family papers include photographs, personal correspondence, reprints, historical reappraisals, biographical material (some relating to Callendar’s father – physics Professor H.L. Callendar); and papers relating to Callendar’s war work, including FIDO (Fog Investigation Dispersal Operation), 1942-1946, and to his time with the Armament Design Establishment, 1950-1956.

Two of Callendar’s notebooks are on exhibit at the Science Museum (London) as part of the exhibit Atmosphere: Exploring Climate Change.

Lockdown Snippet #03: A house arrest lasting 777 days

Hostage Handbook

Diary transcript, proofs of The Hostage Handbook, crosswords compiled in solitary confinement, & homecoming photographs

The archive of novelist and news correspondent Anthony Grey provides insight into how he coped with an extended period of confinement lasting 777 days. Throughout this time he saw only the guards who fed him and had no knowledge of when, or if, he would be released. Amongst his papers is the diary (written in shorthand and in secret) which he kept during his two 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

Lockdown Snippet #02: The Chief Scientific Adviser


Solly Zuckerman 1965

Heard of the Chief Scientific Adviser, Sir Patrick Vallance? His role has become more visible in the current crisis. We are privileged to hold the archive of Solly Zuckerman who held the same post (1964-1971).

Between 1964 and his official retirement in 1971 Zuckerman was the government’s scientific trouble-shooter. His role in dealing with the environmental crisis resulting from the grounding of the oil tanker ‘Torrey Canyon’ in March 1967 is reminiscent of his activities in World War II. Two years later he was urging draconian measures to prevent an outbreak of rabies. He led an enquiry into the organisation of scientific services in NHS hospitals.

The papers in the series described in this guide reflect the variety of issues with which a scientific adviser has to deal; some, like the proliferation of nuclear weapons, of literally earth-shattering dimensions, some simply bizarre. A chief scientific adviser, especially a high-profile one, is a soft target for those given to writing letters characterised by heavy underlining and the use of multi-coloured inks. They also reflect the extraordinary range and complexity of Zuckerman’s international personal network.

Two strands in particular run through these papers: the quest for an abatement, if not an abolition, of the nuclear arms race; and the Anglo-American ‘special relationship’. SZ epitomized the latter and he achieved some small success with the former in the shape of the Partial Test-Ban Treaty of 1963.

Lockdown snippets

While our physical Archives remain closed and archive staff continue to work from home, we’ll be highlighting connections and parallels between our current situation, be they personal or national, and the past. We’ll bring to light snippets from across our collections which may resonate now and inspire a visit later.

Lockdown Snippet #01: ‘One Little Room an Everywhere’

A paper entitled ‘One Little Room an Everywhere’ is referenced in our guide to Roger Deakin’s papers [RD/TRA/2]. The actual document requires further examination and we’ll dip into this when the collections are open however we do know that this line also appears in John Donne’s poem ‘The Good-Morrow’.

Roger Deakin (wild swimmer, writer and naturalist) enjoyed company as much as solitude. Although he lived in a large farm house with a number of rooms and enjoyed a wide circle of friends, he periodically took himself out into his shepherd’s hut or railway carriage to connect more closely with nature, and to write. These solitary sleep-outs enabled a heightened sense of awareness and a deep connection with his surroundings. It was here that he wrote down his daily thoughts which later formed the basis for ‘Notes from Walnut Tree Farm.’


Reproduced with permission from the Roger Deakin Estate

Sat 10th August [2002]. “I’m lying in the shepherd’s hut on a wooden bed under a wooden boarded roof like a pine tent, and horizontal pine panelled walls. Each time a nail has pierced the wood it has bled a nasty stain, creeping along the grain, blurred, as though the wood on the wagon itself were travelling at speed. A woodpecker shrieks across the field. A wasp worries the window-pane, then zig-zags above the bed.


Reproduced with permission from the Roger Deakin Estate

The open door frames a wall of green: the hawthorn hedge, ash, nettles, graceful flowers of grass. All sway on the hot breeze. Dust-mites flicker and drift in the window-light. In the far corner of the hut, a stainless-steel stove-pipe and a tiny tortoise stove. In the other corner, a pine corner-cupboard, built by me as part of the hut, filled with whiskey for the cold winter nights. Cows lowing in the distance across the common”.

Learn more about the Roger Deakin Archive

Exploring the Archives: a monthly update: March 2020

Access to the Archives

As of Monday 23 March access to our physical collections are closed for the foreseeable future. Staff continue to work remotely on developing the collections and outreach projects and we may also be contacted to answer queries and offer guidance. In some instances we may be able to offer a digital copy or a link to a digital file. Contact us at

Literary Festival interviews brought to you at home

The Archives has teamed up with UEA’s Literary Festival Archive and New Writing. From 23 March we started to open up a series of recordings from past events. Each week a new interview is released. For a stimulating un-edited conversation follow links from Twitter @UEAArchives @UEALitFest @NewWritingNet

Enquiries, Visits & Activities


Filming of Higson’s Archive took place in the Archives on 6 March. A programme celebrating 25 years of The Fast Show, a popular BBC comedy sketch show programme of the 1990s, will be aired later in the year. Higson was one of the central performers and sketch writers of The Fast Show. Our Chase Placement student, Emily Walker, who has worked extensively on The Fast Show material within the archive, contributed to the programme.
Guardian The Fast Show returns to TV for one-off special.
Chortle: the UK Comedy Guide Brilliant! Fast Show team to reunite


Justine Mann led a seminar on Exhibitions as part of the ‘Cultural Heritage in a Digital Age’ MA Module. Students were introduced to current debates surrounding the design, creation and presentation of digital surrogates and exhibitions and community participation. The session also drew on our National Lottery funded digitisation project, Suffragette Stories, led by the School of Literature, Drama and Creative Writing and the British Archive for Contemporary Writing, which digitised 100 items from our Kenney Papers Archive to celebrate the centenary of women achieving the vote. Students were introduced to Omeka exhibition software and the challenges behind the creation of an online exhibition. Finally, they contributed digital exhibits and added metadata. The session was held in the Media Suite. Attendance: 12


Julian_Huxley_1964 CC BY-SA 3.0 NL. Unknown author Dutch National Archives

Julian_Huxley 1964. Creator unknown. Source Dutch National Archives. CC BY-SA 3.0 NL

An academic from the University of New South Wales has visited to  research Sir Julian Huxley (evolutionary biologist). Papers relating to Sir Julian can be found in three of our collections but predominantly in the Zuckerman collection. Sir Julian was secretary of the Zoological Society of London (1935-1942), a post later held by Solly Zuckerman (1955-1977).

Exploring the Archives: a monthly update: February 2020

Visits, Enquiries and Other Activities


Justine Mann co-delivered a seminar on Preservation with the East Anglia Film Archive (EAFA) Education Technologist, Sean Kelly, in UEA’s Media Suite. The BACW led section: ‘Digital Preservation in the Archives of Contemporary Writers’ drew on our recent research into the challenges of preserving the creative process in born digital archive material. Attendance: 12 students.


This session drew on some of our collections which are not usually associated with creative writing. Inspiration was found in climate reports, essays documenting children’s experiences during the Blitz, and a 1930s dinner club. Attendance: 17.


Shore (9)

Manuscript of The Shore

An opportunity to see the writing process behind a published novel, The Shore, through the archive of Sara Taylor. Sketched out with maps and a family tree the archives shows the novel’s evolution through a series of drafts, editor’s notes and rejection letters. Attendance: 33, in three groups.

“It’s really helpful seeing the writing process from someone’s who’s published.”

“Hugely interesting as a writer, especially seeing flaws in a published writers’ drafts.”

“I really liked being able to see the multiple drafts and flip through them.”


Letters from the writer Winston Graham (novelist known for the Poldark series) mentioning the Indian writer R.K. Narayan (CHARLES PICK ARCHIVE).


We have assisted a family history researcher with his query on Joan Everest (THE EVEREST COLLECTION); and a community arts group with their exhibition on portraits of climate change influencers (G.S. CALLENDAR ARCHIVE).

The PRITCHARD PAPERS received visits from a postgraduate student in Contemporary History and Politics at Birkbeck who is researching the teachers of the Bauhaus; a returning visitor from Bowdoin College (Maine) who is researching the recent history of the modernist Lawn Road Flats, in particular the Isokon Trust – the body instrumental in rescuing the building in recent years; and an independent researcher from London who is preparing for her talk on Edith Tudor-Hart (photographer and Soviet Union spy).

Earlham Hall 0002

Earlham Hall. Home of UEA School of LAW

The UEA COLLECTION has been accessed for photographs of the Chamber Choir in the 1970s; the history of Earlham Hall; and a 1976 discussion of the poets Empson, Gascoyne, Rickword and Spender.

Special Collections

12 requests.

Exploring the Archives: a monthly update: January 2020



‘Curating Ourselves’ – Teachers’ inset day, 10 January, Sainsbury Centre

DL 100 Teachers inset day 2020-01-10Local art teachers were welcomed to the Doris Lessing 100 exhibition to consider the curatorial process in relation to a writer’s life. It stimulated ideas for lesson plans & further links between the Archive and schools. Attendees: 9.


Screening of Memoirs of a Survivor, 21 January, Cinema City, Norwich

Starring Julie Christie and based on Lessing’s dystopian novel of the same title. Some scenes from this 1980s science fiction film were filmed in Argyle Street, Norwich with some of the residents from the squats as extras. The screening attracted a select audience of 37 and was organised by Justine Ashford (LDC, PGR).

Conference: Archives, Access and AI, 15-17 January, London

Emily Walker (PGR Chase Placement student) and Justine Mann presented a research paper at an AHRC funded international conference: Archives, Access and AI: Working with Born-digital and Digitised Archival Collections – on the challenges of archiving born digital scriptwriter files.


Lyndsey Jenkins (University of Oxford) speaks on Gender, Class and Feminism in Suffrage Activists’ Childhoods. Jenkins shares insights from the archive of working class suffragettes – Annie and Jessie Kenney (the Kenney Papers are held in UEA Archives). Attendees: 9.


Snoo Wilson Prize for Scriptwriting 2020-01-30The annual prize, awarded at The Garage in Norwich, recognises the most imaginative, inventive & formally achieved piece of writing. A lively evening with readings from students. The archive of Snoo Wilson is held in the BACW. Attendees: 42.

Enquiries and visits


Visit to Doris Lessing’s exhibition and archive to work with original letters from writers campaigning for political issues. Dr Katie Cooper (PPL, PGR) spoke about writers as activists and her archival research for project ‘Writers and Free Expression’ Organiser: Justine Ashford. Attendees: 10.


Jen McDerra (LDC, PGR) brought her group to see behind the book jacket into the nitty-gritty of the publishing process. Attendees: 17.

Interesting to see that agents and publishers really care about the work they take on.’
Eye-opening edits, very interesting.’
Demystifies many areas of the publishing process.’
Every time I [attend on a module] I find more reasons to come on my own.’


Students involved in this year’s Heritage i-Teams Project, visited the archive to look at original archive material from some of our writers’ archives and learn more about a writer’s creative process. This will inform the team’s proposal on how BACW can present the story behind the evolution of a story/chapter draft in an engaging and interactive way for audiences. More information about Heritage i-Teams can be found here.


Writing the Wild 2020-01-28This popular session draws on the archives of nature writers Mark Cocker and Roger Deakin (wild swimmer). Attendees: 14.

Helpful to see the progress of some of the texts we studied.’
Very interesting, allowed books and authors to come alive with a backstory.’


Naomi Alderman’s The Power; John Berger’s correspondence with Doris Lessing; The Fast Show; and radio recordings of Roger Deakin. Lee Child’s biographer has also just finished the last of a long series of visits.


PP.44.1.306Attacks on German headquarters, 1944; the history of Environmental Science; Bedford College; Hull family history; the blueprint of the Penguin donkey bookcase, designed by Egon Riss; Walter Gropius (architect); Leslie Bilsby (architect); feminist theatre; and trampolining and badminton at UEA.

Special Collections

17 requests. Six of these titles were for a group session ‘The Business of Books’ (eighteenth century publishing) (LDC).

Exploring the Archives: a monthly update: December 2019

Events and displays


We were delighted to learn that our Doris Lessing 100 exhibition & programme had been selected as a finalist in UEA’s Innovation & Impact Award 2020 in the category of ‘Outstanding Social or Cultural Impact’. The winners in each category will be announced on 6 February. There’s still time to see the exhibition which runs until 9 February 2020 at the Sainsbury Centre (UEA campus).


CH and PW

Charlie Higson and Paul Whitehouse at UEA Archives. Copyright UEA.

UEA hosted a celebration to mark 25 years since the start of one of the most popular comedy sketch shows. Actors Paul Whitehouse and Charlie Higson popped into the archive before the event. Higson’s archive is held by us and includes sketches and submissions for the show. Selected pieces from the archive are on display in the Library foyer until 31 January 2020.

Enquiries and visits



WEA visiting the Archives

This workshop was led by Justine Ashford (LDC PGR), a Doris Lessing 100 Chase Placement student. Using Doris Lessing’s 1940s love letters and recordings of the writer as the focal point, the participants reflected on selective memory and myth in personal narratives. 14 attendees.


Jen McDerra (LDC PGR) brought along a group of enthusiastic year 10s from Yarmouth (part of the Brilliant Club’s scholar programme). As part of a range of activities at UEA, the students visited the Doris Lessing 100 exhibition and our Reading Room where they took part in a seminar using archive material relating to Sara Taylor’s writing process, correspondence from Doris Lessing and selected pieces from an exhibition on Lee Child to stimulate thinking around their own creative process and the wider landscape of traditional and non-traditional publishing. Nine attendees.


This archive has been accessed for correspondence between key suffragettes and the documentary filmmaker and screenwriter Jill Craigie. The papers reveal concerns raised about the appropriateness of featuring a phase of internal conflict during wartime (1945). Later, a proposed radio play ‘The Women’s Rebellion’ (1951) raises questions on the interpretation of Annie Kenney’s contribution to the suffragette movement.


The popular Tots and Quots series has received a visit from a Scottish historian. This uniquely named 1930s dining club was for young scientists destined for eminence in the scientific world. Among its members were the crystallographer (John) Desmond Bernal, biologist J. B. S. Haldane, future Chancellor of the Exchequer Hugh Gaitskell, and one of the founders of science journalism, James Gerald Crowther.

Special Collections

Two requests.

Exploring the Archives: a monthly update: November 2019



The creative writing process of two crime writers: Louise Doughty (Platform Seven) and Dame Denise Mina (Conviction) was displayed in the UEA Library foyer through most of November. Curated by PGR CHASE student Elspeth Latimer.



On Fri 22 November a special evening of readings/discussion & curatorial talks to celebrate Doris Lessing 100 was held at the Millennium Library in Norwich with 23 members of the public. Dr Nonia Williams introduced The Golden Notebook and LDC student Georgina Rowley delivered a fascinating critical reading of the text.

The backdrop to this event was the installation of a display by the team of ‘Unboxed’ student volunteers showing their creative responses to the Doris Lessing 100 exhibition.

Over a period of four weeks, the students took part in practical workshops with archivists, gallery staff and writers to develop their own interpretations of material in the exhibition.

A process of shared reading, creative writing and enquiry illuminated Doris Lessing as a ‘voice of resistance’, continuing to challenge societal expectations and the professional limitations she experienced.

The event was also the culmination of several Millennium Library Reading Group sessions, led by Dr Nonia Williams and student, Georgina Rowley.

The exhibition continues at the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts until 9 February 2020.

Further details on the Unboxed programme

Enquiries and visits

Mostly routine apart from research of the Zuckerman Archive focussing on film, television and mammal behaviour at London Zoo in the 1950s and ‘60s. Solly Zuckerman was Honorary Secretary and then President of the London Zoological Society.

Special Collections

6 requests.