Exploring the Archives: a monthly update: March 2019


Isokon and the Bauhaus in Britain (001)The Archives is pleased to have been of assistance to Leyla Daybelge and Magnus Englund with their publication Isokon and the Bauhaus in Britain. Pavilion Books. Published March 2019. The authors made countless research trips to the Archives, researching the Pritchard Papers.

Jos Smith (Director of the British Archive for Contemporary Writing) and Fiona Sinclair (UEA Archive’s Writer in Residence) were interviewed on local radio (BBC Radio Norfolk, 15 March). They talked about our local theatre collections as well as the Suffragette Stories community project and the significance of some tree-clippings (remnants of an arboretum planted by the suffragettes).


MA Publishing Module, 4 March

Students had the opportunity to look at selected correspondence between authors, their agents, editors and publishers. Some letters are tense and fractious, others are encouraging and bear good news.

For those interested in literary translation the papers of translator John Fletcher (UEA Emeritus Professor) provided insight into the translation process, the time pressures of authors and publishers and the importance of watertight contracts. Nine attendees.

“It was really interesting to look at the letters regarding the publication process.”

“It’s been relevant to the whole Creative Writing course actually!”

LDC UG Creative Writers, 5 March (pm & late pm)

These two sessions focussed on the texts of Sara Taylor (The Shore). 16 attendees.

“It was extremely helpful to see how a published writer develops their work through redrafting. I felt inspired by her methods and will use these in my own writing.”

“ … Reading other people’s comments on the draft and the editors’ notes, and seeing how the author adapted the feedback or rejected it was also interesting.”

LDC PGT Contemporary Fiction, 7 March

Naomi Alderman The Power. 13 attendees.

“The session gave me a perspective which I would not have grasped on my own.”

LDC PGT Poetics of Place, 14 March

Deakin - Treyarnon Cornwall

Roger Deakin – Treyarnon Bay Cornwall

This module led by Jos Smith looked at proposals for Mark Cocker and Roger Deakin’s books, TV and radio programmes. Also Deakin’s preliminary work for Waterlog. Seven attendees and two additional visitors.

LDC PGT Feminist Writing, 20 March

A chance to explore feminist views in the works and letters of Doris Lessing, Margaret Drabble, Muriel Spark, prominent suffragettes, and Naomi Alderman. 11 attendees.

“This is my first archive session, and I wish I had done one sooner. This really is a great resource and I will definitely aim to sit in again.”

“Some great resources that I otherwise would’ve been unaware of. Great starting points to inspire our summative projects.”

“The material is great for specific information and contextualising ideologies or societal views.”

PGT Module ‘Cultural Heritage in the Digital Age’. Two three hour module seminars led by Justine Mann (Archivist) and Annie Kelly (Digitisation Assistant) on the Suffragette Stories project, 19 and 26 March


Session one – Students worked with us in the Digitisation Suite (within UEA Media Suite) to digitise unique archive material from our suffragette archives. They worked through the process of capturing & enhancing digital surrogates in preparation for adding to the Suffragette Stories UEA digital exhibition. Nine attendees.

Session two – Students were given an overview of UEA Archives’ recent digitisation and engagement project, Suffragette Stories, funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund. The session introduced i) key theoretical debates in the area of digitisation and public engagement and ii) the importance of metadata standards and controlled vocabulary. Students were also given a hands on introduction to our digital exhibition software, Omeka, and added their own digitised exhibits to the Suffragette Stories test site. Eleven attendees.

“Useful introduction to the Omeka site and info about metadata.”

“Great to see the lifecycle of a digitised item and to hear a critical engagement with a digitisation project.”

“Useful to have practical experience alongside the theory – learning in context!”

HUM Foundation Year – Adventures in the Archives, 26-28 March

Over a period of three days, three groups of students were introduced to the Archives for an opportunity to engage with the suffragette and WWII archives. A new discovery for most. 22 attendees.

“Very useful. I didn’t even know it existed before this week. Will use it for future research.”

“Interesting and thoroughly fascinating.”

Unboxed (blog writing)

Editorial workshop, 5 March. Five attendees.

Enquiries & Visits

• A student on the MA scriptwriting course is reading a suffragette’s diary of her 1917 trip to Russia, and Doris Lessing’s love letters of the 1940s.
• An AMA student is selecting slides on the Kalahari Bushmen, part of the UEA Collection.
• A DEV student is comparing UEA’s marketing and information literature before and after the introduction of the 2010 Equality Act.
• An overseas researcher is researching free speech at British universities, in particular the visit of politician John Carlisle to UEA in 1986.

Special Collections

There were 16 requests.


Archiving Final Draft: A potential digital gold mine of film and TV scripts – but can we access the creative process behind them?

Within the screenwriting industry, Final Draft is universally acknowledged as the industry standard scriptwriting software to use if you want to be taken seriously as a professional. The Final Draft website proudly boasts that companies from the BBC to Netflix to Walt Disney use the software for their productions, and includes quotes from users such as Guillermo Del Toro, JJ Abrams, and Sofia Coppola praising the ease of use and technical ability. Del Toro even humorously suggests that Final Draft has been such a ‘wise, patient and loyal writing partner’ that he would happily elope with the software.

GdT comment on Final Draft

The package – which currently costs around £200 – can write Film, TV, or theatre scripts, can be customised to suit any company scriptwriting format, allows for cross-computer collaboration, works on almost any device, and has regular updates introducing new interactive features like a beat board and alternative dialogue (which I’ll return to later). Overall, the Final Draft software is used in over 95% of film and television productions.

Due to the incredible permeation of the Final Draft software in film and television production, it was inevitable that archives would need to begin grappling with deposits of Final Draft files.

As part of the growing TV Comedy Writing collection within the British Archive for Contemporary Writing at the University of East Anglia, we have received numerous files from various television comedy writers. The volume of files will no doubt increase in the future, as our contributors are all practising writers. There is already a pressing issue with the older files; as Final Draft updates, older Final Draft files from the 1990s and early 2000s are incompatible with software upgrades and may eventually become unreadable. This creates the question: how do we preserve these files and allow them to be read by visiting researchers?

The files could be saved as a PDF/A and a typical and secure ‘read-only’ archival presentation could be provided within the Archive Reading Room. In addition, although sligtly retro – these PDFs could even be printed out for use in the archive. However, converting Final Draft files to a PDF loses valuable information relating to the creative process. Final Draft allows writers to create beat boards, link characters and scenes, write ScriptNotes and alternative dialogue (especially important in comedy, where the writer may try multiple punchlines), and use of the navigator to move freely around the document. Converting the file to a PDF only preserves the ‘final draft’ of the script and loses all of the invaluable information that can inform on a writers’ creative decisions and processes, which could be key to a researcher’s project.

To present a secure copy of the file in its native environment of Final Draft presents other immediate problems: there isn’t a read only mode. Final Draft is incredibly easy to edit. The software allows users to write in extra letters, words, or lines to the script, and whether this is done intentionally or unintentionally, editing could seriously affect the document and the researcher’s work.

There is one other alternative we have considered, which is using a special version of the Final Draft Software called Final Draft Reader. This software is intended for users who have not paid £200 for the software itself but want to read a script written on Final Draft. Reader does not allow users to create new scripts or edit them but does give access to information such as the ScriptNotes and navigator. Unfortunately, having access to ScriptNotes means the user can also accidentally create one, and the editing lock stops the user from writing or deleting it. This is also the case for features such as the alterative dialogue; a user can create the space, but not edit or delete it.

final draft screen shot

Also, the Reader allows a user to move tabs around, such as the links between characters and scenes and the story map. More importantly though, the Reader does not let you access the beat board, where writers may have stored important information about the creative process (structure, story beats etc.). Therefore, while Reader seems like the best option in terms of accessing information about editing and interactivity, there are still serious problems that affect the preservation of the document and the accessibility of research information.

At the moment, these Final Draft digital files in our archive are completely inaccessible to researchers, although we have begun to process using software such as DROID and Archivematica and so will pursue the PDF/A route as a first stage and potentially look at secure alternatives, such as emulation to see if we can salvage more. As the collection expands and more files are added, the need for a safe way to access the full richness of the file increases.

We would welcome any comments from other archives who are also facing this issue or have found a solution. In fact, through DPC, we have already been introduced to colleagues at the British Library and at Sussex, who are grappling with these issues and which we are keen to follow up. In addition, DPC are also reaching out to Final Draft Pro itself, to see if the company has any interest in helping writers and archives to salvage the creative process behind the final draft. We look forward to working with them, if there is a positive response.

Emily Walker is a CHASE-funded Doctoral Researcher at the University of East Anglia currently specialising in television comedy. Her thesis is investigating the representation of religion in four British religious sitcoms – All in Good Faith, The Vicar of Dibley, Father Ted, and Rev – to establish ‘religious sitcoms’ as a sitcom sub-genre. She is also undertaking a placement as Curatorial Assistant for the British Archive for Contemporary Writing’s TV Comedy Collection (University of East Anglia).


Review of Women’s Studies Archive

UEA Archives Unboxed blogger, Melina Spanoudi, takes a dive into the Women’s Studies Archive, currently on trial at UEA Library.

tag - the UEA library blog

This is a guest review from Melina Spanoudi (LDC) looking at one of the sixteen resources the Library is trialling in March and April 2019

Screenshot showing the women's studies archive homepage

The Women’s Studies Archive that the UEA has access to until the 4th of April is an incredibly vast collection of primary sources that explore women’s history, making it the ideal place for all who are interested to dig out relevant documents, from manuscripts to periodicals and newspaper articles, that trail the history of women’s rights.

you are a scholar, a student, or an amateur researcher, in today’s political
climate, it is imperative to look back in history in order to see the progress
that has been made, and the ways still to go. Women’s reproductive rights have
been a matter of discussion from their very foundation, but in later years,
they seem to have become a topic of re-negotiation- from America to…

View original post 389 more words

Exploring the Archives: a monthly update: February 2019

Productions and publications

The Archives is pleased to have been of assistance to Carol Talbot with her publication Working-Class Suffragette, the Life of Annie Kenney. Oldham Writers’ Café, Dec. 2018.


The loan of 14 items from our suffragette’s archive to Oldham Gallery has now been returned. They formed part of their exhibition: ‘Peace and Plenty? Oldham and the First World War’.

Now safely back at UEA these precious pieces are on display in a case within our Reading Room. Included are photographs, badges, passports dated 1915 and 1916, and an autograph album containing messages and signatures of prominent suffragettes from 1906-1913.

Our Suffragette Stories exhibition, curated by Broadland Academy students, continues in the Archive Foyer on Floor 02 of the Library.


MA in Scriptwriting, 8 February

In this introduction to the Archives the group discovered how archives can inspire, inform and be invaluable source material for scriptwriting.

I found something really good and inspiring!

Fantastic and surprising resource for us.

I was just a bit overwhelmed but this is my first time in an archive.

A hugely inspiring session. I hadn’t ever thought about using the archive but found it to be a thrilling prospect, and an idea I want to develop.

12 attendees.

Writing the Wild, 12 February

IMG_0386LDC students followed the writing process of Mark Cocker and Roger Deakin, from field notebooks to fully fledged manuscripts. Documenting as they go, these writers’ journeys become a means to explore, observe, encounter and appreciate.

LDC UG Creative Writers, 14 & 15 February

These two sessions focussed on the texts of Sara Taylor (The Shore).
21 attendees.

Unboxed (blog writing)

IMG_0410Our blogging volunteers are dipping into the far reaches of our collections. They’ve each attended a blog training session in the Archives with LDC lecturer Claire Hynes and are now preparing their first draft for an editorial workshop. It’s great to see what’s inspiring them; each one producing a unique narrative based on something which sparks their interest and from which they can expand and explore.

12 attendees: 3 from History; 8 from LDC and 1 from AMA.

Blog training, 21 February morning

Excellent writing exercises that challenged me and made me approach writing in new ways.

Blog training, 21 February afternoon

The workshop helped me to critique my own style of writing in a way that was really encouraging.


Do Something Different Festival, 20 February

As part of UEA’s annual ‘Do Something Different Festival’ the Archives scheduled to re-screen the 2011 Literary Festival interview with Andrea Levy. Sadly Andrea passed away the very same week, making the re-screening all the more poignant and a bit special.

Enquiries & visits

Literary Archives

Students visiting from within UEA are coming to us for The Power (Naomi Alderman) and The Golden Notebook (Doris Lessing). The papers of Malcolm Bradbury are also proving useful to one of our MA Modern and Contemporary Writing students.

UEA Collection

Three overseas enquiries have related to former UEA members of staff: the late W.G. Sebald, John Kimber and Werner Mosse.

Zuckerman Archive

  • A prospective PhD candidate at an English university has expressed an interest in accessing papers on Zuckerman’s time as Secretary of the Zoological Society of London.
  • An archaeological researcher has been examining the bombing survey reports detailing the damage caused in the bombing of Sicilian and mainland Italian ports during WWII.

Special Collections

There were 15 requests

Exploring the Archives: a monthly update: January 2019

Productions and Publications

Front Row Late, BBC2, 11 January 2019. Mary Beard and guests discuss the posthumous reputations of writers and artists. The programme included Beard’s visit to Doris Lessing’s archive.

Tate Etc Spring issue includes material from the Pritchard Papers and features the contributions of the Pritchards towards Walter Gropius’s success in England. Gropius founded the Bauhaus School of Design in 1919.

• Permission has been requested to use a photo of the Pritchard family in a television series which premiered on 30 January. Phil Spencer’s History of Britain in 100 Homes (channel More4) will include the Isokon building (Lawn Road Flats) in episode 6. Molly and Jack Pritchard were the visionaries, owners and residents of the modernist flats built in 1934 in Hampstead, London.


• The Suffragette Stories exhibition (curated by Broadland High Ormiston Academy) is on display on Floor 02 of UEA Library.DSCF3684

• A three year extension has been granted for the loan of G.S. Callendar’s notebooks to the Science Museum for their permanent ‘Atmosphere Gallery’.


AMA (Art, Media and American Studies) PGT Cultural Heritage and Digital Archiving module, 22 January

The focus of the module for that week was ‘collection management’ and as well as a general introduction to the archive, the session focussed on the innovative collection management strategy for the British Archive for Contemporary Writing. The session also profiled forthcoming hands on sessions on digitisation, using the Humanities Media Suite, and the use of digital exhibition software. These will be led by the Archivist and CHASE funded PGR student placement, Annie Kelly, who worked as Digitisation Assistant on the HLF funded Suffragette Stories project. 18 attendees.

LDC (Literature, Drama and Creative Writing) UG Feminist Theatre, 22 January

Session drawing on our suffragette and feminist theatre collections, exploring feminist historiography and how writers can engage creatively and critically with Archives to consider and challenge underrepresentation. 18 attendees.Feminist Theatre 220119

LDC UG Reading Texts, 23 January

Doris Lessing’s The Golden Notebook. Including letters which offer insight into the book’s innovative structure & relationships with fictionalised friends & lovers. 12 attendees.


Doris Lessing Archive

• A visiting PG student has been reading correspondence between Lessing and prominent female authors.

• We’ve been looking for a letter which a member of the public wrote to Lessing in 1991 concerning the epigraph she used in Under My Skin but so far the letter hasn’t turned up.

G.S. Callendar Archive

A Californian publisher has requested permission to use Callendar’s portrait photograph in a textbook on energy.

Kenney Papers

In response to the Telegraph article which highlighted the tree-clippings found in the Archives, some further fascinating information on the suffragette’s arboretum in Batheaston has come to our attention.

Dr Cynthia Hammond from Canada contacted us. She has published Architects, Angels, Activist and the City of Bath, 1765-1965 (2012) and an exhibition catalogue Suffragettes in Bath: Activism in an Edwardian Arboretum (2011).

Fiona Sinclair, Project Officer for Suffragette Stories commented: “Although I have looked at many images of the wood, your work really helped me to see it and understand the space.”

Malcolm Bradbury Archive

An MA student in Modern and Contemporary Writing has consulted biographical papers relating to Bradbury.

Pritchard Papers

Visiting researchers are examining the detail of the legal battle which took place between furniture makers Jack Pritchard and Alvar Aalto regarding the design of the Long Chair.

Roger Deakin Archive

An LDC PGT student is using some of the dozens of notebooks which formed the basis of Deakin’s published nature writing.

UEA Collection

A history lecturer from an English university has requested a recording of Lord Blake’s lecture delivered at UEA in 1997 (Launcelot Fleming lecture). The lecture focuses on historians as interpreters of contemporary history. He cites three great problems for Britain: Northern Ireland, the Welfare State and ‘Europe’.

Unboxed (Archive blog)

Volunteer student bloggers have started researching the collections ahead of the blog writing workshops which will be held in the Archives in February.

Zuckerman Archive

• A professor from an American university has made an initial enquiry on papers relating to the British Bombing Survey Unit and the bombing of Japan and the Pacific islands. He is keen to visit the Archives later in the year.

• An LDC PGT student has accessed the collection of 2,000 children’s essays describing their experiences of the blitz in Hull.

Special Collections

There were 16 requests.

Additional group bookings included:
• ’Books as material objects’ – a session for LDC literature students.
• ‘Visualising History’ module – an introduction to using microfilm.

Exploring the Archives: a monthly update: December 2018


Suffragette Stories, 6 December

UEA and Norfolk County Council’s Library and Information Service hosted a celebration at the Norfolk and Norwich Millennium Library to mark 100 years since women first voted in a general election in the UK. The event launched a physical archive exhibition curated by students from Broadland High Ormiston Academy. The exhibition, which ran throughout December, included material from the Kenney Papers and stories of local suffragettes and a showcase of the numerous intergenerational workshops held throughout Norfolk involving school children, who interviewed community residents in libraries on how women’s roles have changed since women first voted in 1918.

The launch also heard readings from an anthology of stories written by established and emerging writers, school children and other community members to be published online by UEA’s School of Literature, Drama and Creative Writing (LDC) throughout 2019, to remember forgotten suffragettes and to recreate the suffragette tree plantation which was sadly destroyed in the 1960s to make way for housing.

Suffragette Stories is a partnership between the UEA and Norfolk County Council Library & Information Service, and is generously funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

A digital exhibition of 100 digitised items from the Kenney Papers archive is nearing completion and will be launched online at the end of February 2019.


The suffragette display curated by Norfolk school children was on display at the Norfolk and Norwich Millennium Library throughout December.


Creative Writing module visit, 6 December

This module, delivered by Kate Moorhead-Kuhn, explored the manuscripts and working process of novelist Sara Taylor. 7 attendees.

Shore (9)

Manuscript of The Shore


Fisher Theatre, Bungay

Legal documents on the theatre from 1790-1886 have been made available to the board of trustees of this former theatre building. Collection description.

G.S. Callendar Archive


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

A Swiss online magazine, Republik, has published an article on climate change which describes Callendar’s painstaking audit of weather station data across the globe and his resultant theory of global warming in response to rising carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere.

Tinkler Theatre Collection

A couple from Great Yarmouth have visited to trace their relatives’ performances in the early 20th century. They were known as the ‘Two Magnets’ and performed in concert halls from 1890-1924.

UEA Collection

• The BBC has asked for contact details of the estate of the late Lord Oliver Franks (former Chancellor). They hope to re-run a recording of his 1954 Reith Lecture.
• The Students’ Union are gathering photographs of all former SU Presidents. The Archives holds an album of portrait photographs of all presidents from 1968-1980. The rest are scattered throughout UEA magazines.

Zuckerman Archive

An academic has visited to read the children’s essays describing the blitz in Hull. This is a collection of over 2,000 essays and is a rare resource of children’s first-hand accounts of their wartime experiences. More on the essays.

Special Collections

There were 19 requests.

Exploring the Archives: a monthly update: November 2018


UEA Staff Association visit, 21 November

Over a lunchtime visit staff enjoyed a behind the scenes tour and discovered some of the treasures that lie in the depths of UEA Library. After an informal talk they could browse displays of literary archive material, including manuscripts from authors who have studied creative writing as part of the UEA MA in Creative Writing. Also available were working drafts from crime writers Ian Rankin and Val McDermid, the nature writing archives of East Anglian writers Mark Cocker and Roger Deakin and original letters between leading suffragettes. 10 attendees.

Workers’ Educational Association, Norwich branch, 24 November

Visiting members received an introduction to the British Archive for Contemporary Archives (BACW) and wider archive. They received a presentation which provided insight into how the collections came into being at UEA, their value and how they are being used in teaching. Jos Smith (BACW Director) held a workshop focussing on Naomi Alderman’s The Power.


A display from the Kenney Papers (suffragette archive) has been installed at the Norfolk and Norwich Millennium Library. The display is curated by Norfolk school children as part of the HLF Suffragette Stories project. Young and old within local communities have had the opportunity of connecting through the archive. The display is open to the public throughout December.


MA in Literary Translations (MALT), 1 November

Students were introduced to literary and translation archives. Lecturer Tom Boll led the session on reading and writing literary translations. 5 attendees.

MA in Creative Writing (Prose Fiction), 7 & 8 November

The works of Sara Taylor were the focus of two teaching sessions held by Literature, Drama and Creative Writing (LDC) lecturer Kate Moorhead-Kuhn.  22 attendees.

LDC UG Living Modernism, 7 November

This session, run by LDC lecturer Nonia Williams, used the collections as a background for social studies of the twenties and thirties. Material was included from across the collections, from minimalist domestic living in thirties London (Pritchard Papers), to Doris Lessing’s views on Virginia Woolf, printed ephemera from theatre collections and the diaries and memoirs of suffragettes. 10 attendees.

Analysing Film and Television (Art, Media and American Studies (AMA) UG) module, 26 November

Students were able to work with the screenwriting scripts of Charlie Higson (The Fast Show and Monstroso) and Malcolm Bradbury (Dalziel and Pascoe and Porterhouse Blues) and gain insight into what it takes to make a career in the creative arts.

The session was developed by Emily Walker, current UEA PGR in comedy television, and Curatorial Assistant for the TV Comedy Writing Collection, within the BACW, (CHASE-funded placement). 5 attendees.

LDC UG Reading Texts, The Grass is Singing, 27 November

After receiving an introduction to copyright and the handling of archival materials, the students gained familiarity with the letters written between Doris Lessing, her agent and publishers in her quest to bring The Grass is Singing to print. They photographed themselves using the collection and were able to include a couple of love letters by Lessing to John Whitehorn from the forties. The session was supervised by Jos Smith. The photographs will be made available to the Archives and UEA’s Media Library.


Introductory sessions were delivered to 21 volunteer bloggers, some of whom we hope will write some interesting blogs on items selected from our collections.



Enquiries and visits have related to Graham Greene, Virginia Woolf, Ann Quin and Barbara Kingsolver.

Kenney Papers (suffragettes)

A scholar who is re-creating an Edwardian dress has asked for information on the dress worn by the suffragettes.

Pritchard Papers (architecture and design)

• A curator from RIBA has visited to consult papers on designers, in particular László Moholy-Nagy.
• New information on copyright ownership has emerged for a couple of sought after photographs of László Moholy-Nagy and Walter Gropius. This has already assisted two publishers who wish to use them.
• Speeches by Walter Gropius have been requested by a researcher in the US.

Long chair leaflet designed by Laszlo Moholy-Nagy

Roger Deakin Archive

We assisted with an enquiry on the East Anglian ceramic artist Mary Newcomb.

UEA Collection

We’ve helped answer questions on where in the Library marks the join between the original building by Lasdun (1968) and the first extension by Feilden & Mawson (1974); and how the authors of Concrete and Open Skies settled on the title.

West corner. Originally just 10 bays, the building extended to 16 as part of a second phase extension (Feilden & Mawson, 1974)

Other enquiries related to the Sex Pistols (a cancelled UEA gig in the sixties); and the eighties Crawl Club (a social drinking club at UEA).

Zuckerman Archive

A research visit focussed on the correspondence between Zuckerman and Lord Mountbatten of Burma.

Special Collections

There were 16 requests.

Exploring the Archives: a monthly update: October 2018


UEA Library 50th anniversary

A display to mark the anniversary has been set up in the Library foyer. This combines archive as well as contemporary material to show some of the changes the Library has undergone over the last 50 years. Alumni have been sharing their memories and these have been gathered together in a series of blogs. More.

Public Event: Suffragette Stories: Exploring the Legacy, 13 October 2018, The Forum, Norwich

Fifty two members of the public attended an Archive event to celebrate October 13 1905 when the ‘Votes for Women’ banner was first raised at the Free Trade Hall in 1905 by Annie Kenney. Talks from leading historians Krista Cowman and Lyndsey Jenkins shed light on the struggle against inequality of little known activists like the Kenney sisters, whose archive are held at UEA, and considered the uneven progress of gender relations since. The UEA Archive’s Writer in Residence Fiona Sinclair reported on the activities of our HLF project. More.


MA Biography & Creative non-fiction (LDC PGT) with Andrew Kenrick, 16 October

© Estate of Roger Deakin

The current cohort visited the archive for a session exploring non-fiction writers’ archives held at UEA including those of Lorna Sage, Roger Deakin and Mark Cocker. The session also explored how non-fiction writers can research archives and use the material for creative inspiration. 16 attendees.

Charlie Higson – author, scriptwriter, actor and musician – returns to UEA to share ideas on breaking into a creative career

Charlie Higson

A day of scheduled student sessions with comedy writer Higson took place on 17 October. Emily Walker (comedy archive PhD placement) interviewed Higson about his archive. A Q&A session (led by Brett Mills) on the comedy writing and performance industry followed; students were able to sit in and ask questions. Individual seminars on the creative process followed with small selected groups of students asking specific questions for discussion. Emily Walker, has written a blog about the visit. 16 attendees.

MA Gender Studies (HUM) – Feminist Research Methods Module, 9 October

blog post image AK postcard votes for women

Annie Kenney

Students visited the archives of suffragette sisters, Annie and Jessie Kenney, and explored the legacy of working class suffragettes. A graduate of last year’s cohort, Laura Noon, and an Unboxed volunteer with the archive during 2017-18, has published a blog drawing on the archive material. 12 attendees.

Creative Writing Workshops with Fiona Sinclair, 12 October

Our HLF funded Writer in Residence, Fiona Sinclair, held creative writing workshops with undergraduate students interested in submitting to the Suffragette Stories anthology. More. 4 attendees.

Suffragette Stories Archive Research Day (Fiona Sinclair, Kate Cooper and Stanislava Dikova), 15 October

The Suffragette Stories project team made selections from the Kenney Papers archive. Children in schools, including Wroxham, then ‘curated’ the final selection. The material will be on display at the Millennium Library (The Forum, Norwich) throughout December. An event to celebrate the project, and launch the creative writing anthology, will be held on 6 December at the venue. 3 attendees.

The BACW featured at UEA Open Day, 20 October

Twenty nine prospective students and their parents visited the Archive to discover how students work with archive material during their studies.

MA in Literary Translation (MALT) – seminar with Tom Boll, 23 October 

Students visited the archive of literary translator, David Bellos, to understand his process. 11 attendees.

Anthony Vivis Archive

A request was received from a US university for a copy of a translation by Vivis of a playscript by Rainer Fassbinder. The copyright holder has been traced and permission granted.


Some of the enquiries and visits we’ve received:
• a creative writing student sought material for a character sketch
• a student of prose fiction enquired about authors who use scrap-books and collage to inform their work
• a couple of our students have been in to read the letters of J.D. Salinger
• a lecturer enquired about access to a BBC recording of a Samuel Beckett interview
• a Gender Studies student viewed the Kenney Papers to see how the suffragettes viewed the struggle in the decades following
• a PhD student in Germany sought lectures delivered by W.G. Sebald at UEA
• a volunteer at Felbrigg Hall sought audio recordings of lectures delivered in the sixties at UEA by Robert Wyndham Ketton-Cremer.

Images for publications

The Archives have assisted publishers and writers with high quality images for forthcoming publications. Two separate publications relate to the Pritchard Papers and one to the Roger Deakin Archive.

UEA Collection

• The Archives have found photos of a Science lecture theatre for Estates in order to gain a sense of the original look and feel. Other enquiries related to the History of Art, the Library’s carrels, and early UEA artwork and designs.

• Five alumni from 1968 visited the Library and Archives and enjoyed looking at past student handbooks and press-cuttings albums. They subsequently shared with us some of their memories of the Library.

Zuckerman Archive

Papers relating to Zuckerman’s career as Chief Scientific Advisor, nuclear and chemical defence policy have been consulted by an academic from the University of Milan and a student from the London School of Economics.

Special Collections

There were 12 requests.

Charlie Higson – author, scriptwriter, actor and musician – returns to UEA to share ideas on breaking into a creative career

A guest blog from Emily Walker, current UEA postgraduate researcher in comedy television, and Curatorial Assistant for the TV Comedy Writing Collection, within the British Archive for Contemporary Writing, as part of her CHASE-funded placement.

On October 17, the UEA’s British Archive for Contemporary Writing (BACW) hosted Charlie Higson: writer, actor, director, and Archive depositor, for interactive student sessions discussing scriptwriting, novel writing, television, and the creative industries.

Higson, whose prolific credits include the BAFTA winning classic TV sketch comedy The Fast Show, and the bestselling book series Young Bond and The Enemy, is a UEA undergraduate alumnus and received an Honorary Doctorate of Letters in 2014.

Since his graduation in 1980, Higson has been a frequent visitor; during my six years at UEA he has appeared at three separate student-oriented events (all of which I have been lucky enough to attend) but his willingness to help students extends much further back. I recently found a letter from a UEA student dated 1997 thanking Higson for his visit and advice.

With a nearly 40-year history with the university, UEA is the natural home for the Charlie Higson archive, a huge collection of Higson’s writing drafts, notebooks, sketches, and the occasional drawing. The archive material is revealing of Higson’s creative methods and his career development and is already used in teaching. In discussion with the BACW Archivist, Dr Brett Mills, Curator of the Comedy Writing Collections at UEA, felt it was a natural progression for the Archive to host seminars and masterclasses with the writers themselves.

Based on my own experiences, I suggested students would benefit most from working with Charlie in smaller groups. Students from across Humanities were encouraged to apply for the opportunity – from foundation year to post graduate. Successful applicants were then offered the chance to meet the man himself and ask personal questions about his life and work.

Higson ran a Q&A session chaired by Brett Mills and a series of three small-group sessions tailored to the research interests of the applicants (scriptwriting, comedy, and fiction). The students were aspiring novelists, stand-up comedians, film-makers, and actors, and they were encouraged to ask specific questions about their career aims.

Over three hours, Higson provided so much insightful and practical advice that to list every piece would fill volumes. Instead, I have picked out five key points:

1. Do your research (but not too much). If you are looking to write a script, read them as well. Higson specifically recommended the Withnail and I script (written by Bruce Robinson) and the book How Not to Write a Screenplay by Denny Martin Flinn (currently £0.01 used on Amazon, so there’s no excuse). Still, be prepared for the research to end because otherwise the writing may never begin.

2. Find a writing partner. “I definitely think it is much easier to write comedy with someone else”, a statement that chimes with his many collaborations in television comedy, especially with long-time comedy partner Paul Whitehouse. Higson met many of his writing partners at UEA, and believes that complementary skills, such as organisation and ideas, can be very beneficial.

3. Create world, character, and story. Higson listed three elements to writing a novel or screenplay: start by creating a world (it can be a vague image, no need to be Tolkien-esque), then find the characters, and the story should grow out of this combination. It is also important to know the ending, because “you can take as many detours as you want along the way”, and “it is the everyday things” that can make a world seem real.

4. If you have writer’s block, work on a few projects. Instead of struggling with one story, why not try working on a few projects at once? James Cameron, when tasked with writing Rambo and Alien sequels at the same time, would work on one until he ran out of ideas, and then swap to the other and repeat the process. However, “if you’re really stuck,” Higson suggests, “something is fundamentally wrong”.

5. “Have a life”. Imagination will play a big part in crafting stories, but having experiences will be vital in creating believable situations and dialogue. Since Higson started writing after UEA while working as a painter/decorator, he had a bank of experiences to draw on. Family can be a big help too: Higson says that reading his young adult horror fiction to his children helps to gauge whether the stories are scary enough.

The student response was overwhelmingly positive. On the anonymous feedback forms, attendees all classed the sessions as “Very good” or “Excellent” and considered the sessions creatively and professionally inspiring. Here are some of the comments:

“Charlie was friendly and easy to talk to while also providing wise and valuable advice. I loved the casual setup of the session.”
“Practical with humorous anecdotes: interesting insights on the creative process.”
“First-hand experience in hearing from an accomplished writer and former UEA student.”
“Just hearing how a career can develop fairly organically was incredibly reassuring.”
Many of the students said they had gained “confidence” in their abilities, felt more “energised” by the experience, and were encouraged to ”write more” and “collaborate” in the future.

One student even said Higson had inspired him to “enjoy life!” In fact, the only repeated recommendation was that they wanted more time, a factor we will be absolutely delighted to increase next time (Higson’s schedule permitting).

Dr Brett Mills (AMA), who chaired the event, in his role as curator of the comedy strand of the Archive, said:

“It’s fantastic to have Charlie on campus again, giving invaluable advice and support to our students who are keen to do all kinds of creative work. The student feedback shows how much such events are valued. I’m particularly glad that comedy – often an ignored genre – is given its prominence here, and Charlie was able to give encouragement to students keen to make others laugh.

The Archive’s comedy strand represents a significant intervention into the kinds of culture and creative activity that typically gets kept for posterity – and events such as this show how invaluable it is for teaching and research. I know I’m looking forward to Charlie’s next visit as much as our students are.”

For those who didn’t attend the seminar, there are still plenty of ways to find out more information. The Charlie Higson Archive in the BACW collection http://www.uea.ac.uk/bacw  is full of fantastic material from his extensive career, which would be an excellent starting point for any budding writers. In addition, as part of my work placement with the archive, I conducted an interview with Higson which will eventually be available in the archive for researchers. And of course, since Higson is a frequent visitor, it would not be unreasonable to hope for another seminar very soon.

Emily Walker, current UEA postgraduate researcher in comedy television, and Curatorial Assistant for the TV Comedy Writing Collection, within the British Archive for Contemporary Writing, as part of her CHASE-funded placement.

Annie Kenney: War before Suffrage

An Unboxed blog from Laura Noon.

blog post image AK postcard votes for womenAnnie Kenney was the first suffragette to perform militant action for the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU) when she asked Sir Edward Grey and Winston Churchill during a Liberal rally at the Free Trade Hall in Manchester:

‘If you are elected, will you do your best to make Women’s Suffrage a government measure?’

Ignored several times, Annie, together with Christabel Pankhurst, who had accompanied her, began to shout the question. When asked to leave, they did not. She was offered a fine, which she refused to pay. Kenney subsequently faced three days imprisonment for this protest, the first of thirteen jail sentences.

Annie Kenney’s committed fight for women’s voting equality was courageous and her devotion to justice lasted a lifetime. This was evident in 1944, thirty years after woman’s suffrage, when she stood in opposition to a film production about the suffragette movement, believing that it would bring ‘neither a tear, laugh or sigh to the cinemagoer’.

Jill Craigie, a feminist documentary film maker, had set out to produce a dramatisationof the movement. She wrote to Christabel Pankhurst and Kenney, asking for their co-operation. As a keen admirer of the suffragette movement, Craigie promised to use their correspondence to depict, to the best of her ability, historical accuracy.

Kenney responded with trepidation, questioning the sensitivity of the timing. She contended that a film about the suffragette movement would insensitively depict the brutality of the First World War in conjunction with the suffragettes, in the midst of the “Slaughter of the Innocents” that was the Second World War.

In her reply to Craigie, she wrote: “Mothers’ sons are giving their fresh young lives and shedding their clean blood so that mankind can breathe and live as free men in a free world.”

Kenney, having aided Lloyd George in 1914 and served her country in War as loyally as she served the movement, understood the current hardship that faced the nation. She strongly believed that, if the film were to be made, she and Pankhurst should not be included in it.

Kenney wrote: “…Until happier and more peaceful days return, we must do the duty that lies nearest to our hand and put on one side all retrospection of the past, keeping our eyes fixed on the present, looking forward to a brighter future, for in this way we serve the highest and the best.”

Kenney’s perception of the “very small and insignificant” women’s struggle embodied her altruistic nature, as she considered the welfare of those fighting the bigger battle to be of more significance than her personal fight for women’s voting equality.

Craigie didn’t produce a script about the suffragettes until 1951. Entitled “The Women’s Rebellion”, it was broadcast on the BBC Home Service radio station on 13 March 1951.  Kenney and her family were upset with Craigie’s depiction of Annie, which they believed to be too focused on her attire and on her class than on her contribution to the fight for women’s suffrage. Jessie Kenney wrote to the BBC and a meeting was held to discuss the matter.

Craigie subsequently apologised to Annie for any distress caused and the play was never re-broadcast.

An Unboxed blog from Laura Noon, Graduate of the MA in Gender Studies, University of East Anglia


Further Reading:

Correspondence between Craigie, Annie Kenney and Christabel Pankhurst and other Kenney family members, relating to this episode, can be found within the Kenney Papers Archive at UEA. [Reference: AK/5/2 BBC Radio Play, ‘The Women’s Rebellion’, 1951]

Access a full listing of the Archive: https://portal.uea.ac.uk/library/archives/kenney

Suffragette Stories

During 2018-19, the University of East Anglia is digitising 100 items from the archive, to celebrate the centenary of some women achieving the vote as part of a Heritage Lottery Fund project, in partnership with Norfolk County Council’s Library Service. The archive material is also being used in libraries and schools across Norfolk to prompt discussion about forgotten legacies and women’s equality. Find out more about the project here: https://suffragettestories.omeka.net/