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. Catalogue record.

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.

Exploring the Archives: a monthly update: October 2019

Archives and Collections Visiting Fellowships

Researching archivesA dynamic new funded fellowship has been announced for those wishing to pursue a research project relating to our collections. This initiative welcomes applications from academic researchers wishing to travel to Norwich to make use of the University’s archives and collections for innovative research.
Further information on Visiting Fellowships.



The creative writing process of two crime writers: Louise Doughty (Platform Seven) and Dame Denise Mina (Conviction) may be seen in the UEA Library foyer until 19 November. Curated by PGR CHASE student Elspeth Latimer.


Exhibition visitExhibition 13 Sep 2019 – 9 Feb 2020 (Sainsbury Centre). Lessing’s personal archive forms the basis of this celebratory exhibition. Media coverage:
• The BBC R4’s Open Book
• The Guardian featured items from the exhibition

Open Days and Other Events


Prospective students visiting the Archives were welcomed by Justine Mann and Jos Smith. An opportunity to discover how students learn archive research skills during their studies. 30 attendees.


As part of the centenary celebrations, this ticketed event, run jointly with staff in LDC, brought contemporary writers: Rachel Cusk; Emma Claire Sweeney and Lara Feigel together to discuss Lessing’s legacy. Chaired by Nonia Williams. 85 attendees.
Doris Lessing 100 Programme.



Exhibits in this session included material from the archives of Lorna Sage, Roger Deakin, J.D. Salinger and Doris Lessing. 16 attendees.

Some interesting questions which were considered as part of the session:
What challenges face biographers in archives?
What authority (if any) does an archive have over other source material in terms of illuminating a life?
How might a creative life writer’s response to an archive be different to that of a biographical researcher?


Eugenia Kelbert-Rudan (Leverhulme Fellow) led this seminar which gave students the opportunity to examine drafts, working documents, and corrected copies of David Bellos’ translations of the works of the French writer Georges Perec. Seven attendees.

Interesting to compare the drafts and republished versions. Rare experience.


Three sessions were held on consecutive days. Led by Kate Moorhead-Kuhn (LDC) and others. 39 attendees.

It was very useful to see the stages of a short story from first draft to publication, the process of editing and rewriting feels less daunting now.

Seeing the revision process on a professional level was super interesting.


Led by Iain Robinson (LDC). This session focussed on Doris Lessing’s Memoirs of a Survivor and to Lessing’s wider reflections on science fiction, Sufism, atomic war, and autobiography/memoir. 13 attendees (across two sessions).

Fascinating insight into the author and the realms: intellectual, interpersonal and spiritual she inhabited.


Led by Kotryna Garanasvili (LDC PGR). Again, this gave students the opportunity to examine David Bellos’ translations of the works of the French writer Georges Perec. Seven attendees.

It was interesting to study a professional translator’s material and see their editor’s feedback.


This year’s Unboxed programme is focused on the Doris Lessing 100 exhibition at the Sainsbury Centre which charts the life of Doris Lessing (Nobel laureate).

Students will explore Doris Lessing’s archive and interpret its contemporary significance for new audiences. They will also have the opportunity to curate a display of selected work in Norwich Millennium Library in November.

The first induction session for successful applicants of this exciting volunteering opportunity was held on 23 October. The following week they attended an artists’ workshop at the Sainsbury Centre, led by Nell Croose Myhill (Learning Programme Manager) and Sarah Lowndes (Associate Tutor).

Further details of the Unboxed programme. 


Anthony Grey letters of support

Letters in support of Anthony Grey as he spent 777 days under house arrest.

The Observer Magazine has approached us as they republish the cover of one of their earlier issues from the 1970s. The cover featured a photograph of the journalist Anthony Grey who was placed under house arrest in Peking in 1967 for 777 days. The Archives holds a copy of the magazine and Grey’s papers documenting the personal cost of his job as a journalist. (Anthony Grey Archive). Article.

We’ve assisted picture researchers and a PhD student from Manchester with images for their articles on Isokon furniture and the Bauhaus; and we’re working with a television production company as they gather material for a Channel 5 programme concerning a tenant of the modernist Isokon Flats. (Pritchard Papers).

An author has sought images for her forthcoming book Circles and Squares: The Hampstead Modernists. Bloomsbury, April 2020. (Pritchard Papers).

A photograph of Guy Callendar (a pioneer of the theory of global warming) has been requested for a new book being written in the US on the history of climate change. (G.S. Callendar Archive).

A collection of 2,000 school children’s essays has been used for a dissertation by a student from the University of Birmingham. (Zuckerman Archive).

Special Collections

DSCF387811 requests.

Our thanks to Dr Mike Crundell for the very generous gift of Sir John Hill’s Eden, a compleat body of gardening (1757), an important work in the history of 18th century horticulture.

Exploring the Archives: a monthly update: September 2019



This year’s festival gave privileged insight into the creative process of two celebrated authors: Louise Doughty and Dame Denise Mina who are pushing the boundaries of crime fiction. The display can be seen in UEA Library foyer until Nov 19. Curator: Elspeth Latimer (PGR and CHASE placement at UEA Archives).


Conference 12-14 Sep and Exhibition 13 Sep 2019 – 9 Feb 2020 (Sainsbury Centre). Lessing’s personal archive forms the basis of this celebratory exhibition, curated by staff from LDC, the BACW and the Sainsbury Centre. A launch event ‘Margaret Drabble in Conversation’ was held on 12 September. 84 attendees.



A session including a view of selected items prior to the launch of Lee Child’s archive. Led by Elspeth Latimer. 12 attendees.


Reading & Writing with the Archive. What constitutes graduate level research? What can literary archives offer scholars & contemporary writers? Twelve stations of material from a 15th century manuscript to drafts of a contemporary novel/poem/script. 62 attendees across two sessions.


Most notable were the research visits by the biographer of Lee Child; a visit from a Canadian researcher on the effects of the Allied bombing of Germany; and research visits to Doris Lessing’s Archive by conference delegates. Permission requests were received for press articles on RIBA’s newly opened exhibition ‘Beyond Bauhaus, Modernism in Britain 1933–66‘; for publicity surrounding a newly published Spanish translation of Roger Deakin’s Waterlog; and for a book being prepared on the history of the ‘utopian universities’ of the 1960s.

Special Collections

One request.

Exploring the Archives: a monthly update: August 2019


c. University of East Anglia

Writer’s born-digital creations pose unique challenges for literary archives. Copyright UEA.

Back in June we reported that an article on writers’ born digital archives had been accepted for publication. The article from Paul Gooding, Jos Smith and Justine Mann on the challenges of capturing the creative process in born digital literary archives has now been published in a special issue of the Taylor and Francis Journal ‘Archives and Manuscripts’ the professional and scholarly journal of the Australian Society of Archivists. It is based on a paper given at an AHRC funded conference in January 2017.

The forensic imagination: interdisciplinary approaches to tracing creativity in writers’ born-digital archives by Paul Gooding, Jos Smith & Justine Mann. Pages 374-390. Published online: 11 Aug 2019. Read the article.

Enquiries & Visits

Literary collections

Requests have centred on the history of UEA’s Creative Writing course, Doris Lessing and Malcolm Bradbury Archives.

A photograph of a cat and chess set has been requested for a website on the history of chess (from the archive of Anthony Grey, journalist). More.

Pritchard Papers

A London museum has requested an Isobar restaurant dinner menu from the period of the Spanish Civil War for their exhibition on how art influences politics.

A photograph of a bedroom in a 1930s minimalist flat has been requested for an article on Hilary Hinds’ book The Cultural History of Twin Beds; the same image has been requested by the University of Zagreb.

PP.Blythburgh 001

The Pritchard’s Blythburgh house built in the early 1960s by Colin and Jennifer Jones. Courtesy Pritchard Papers.

Photographs of the Pritchard’s early 1960s designer house in Blythburgh, Suffolk have been supplied for a new website.

We’ve also been helping the Bauhaus Foundation with their exhibition on modernist furniture following their visit to our Archives.

Zuckerman Archive

Enquiries and visits have concerned the 1941 bombing of the Café de Paris in London and the national casualty survey conducted by Zuckerman; the UK’s purchase of nuclear weapons from the US; the civilian casualty response to the German bombing in WWII; and the breeding of endangered species in captivity.

The enquiries have come from a journalist and researchers from King’s College; the Centre for the History of Science, Technology and Medicine (CHSTM) at the University of Manchester; the University of Waterloo in Canada; and the School of Politics, Philosophy, Language and Communication Studies (PPL) at UEA.

Exploring the Archives: a monthly update: July 2019


DSCF37842019 marks the centenary of the founding of the unique and legendary Bauhaus school of art. Beyond the Bauhaus: Walter Gropius in the UK and US is on display in the Archives foyer until 6 September. It draws from the Pritchard Papers, a collection we hold which is rich in the history of modernism, design and architecture. More.

Enquiries & Visits


Over 35 prospective students and their families visited to learn more about how the Archives supports learning and provides unique opportunities to develop a range of skills including critical thinking, creative writing and analysis of information; all during the course of working with a wide range of engrossing, stimulating and unique materials.


Postgraduates from the fields of architecture, design, cultural and curatorial studies have once again chosen to visit us as part of their annual intensive and collective research project.

This year they have chosen a 1936 table designed by Marcel Breuer (and currently at the V&A) as the object of their focus. This modernist piece simultaneously serves as a thematic anchor and starting point from which to research provenance, migration, exhibition careers and historiographies in which it has played a part.

The research findings will be presented in an experimental exhibition in the Bauhaus building, and constitute a contribution to the conference “Collecting Bauhaus” taking place in December 2019.

Our Pritchard Papers hold over 600 items relating to the architect Marcel Breuer and his involvement with the Isokon Furniture Company. These items have been digitised on the Marcel Breuer Digital Archive.


Justine Mann and Paul Cooper, Chase PGR student, gave an introductory talk to Sainsbury Centre staff and volunteer gallery guides in preparation for the launch of the Doris Lessing 100 archive exhibition in September.

Reminder: An event to launch the exhibition takes place on Thur 12 Sep when Margaret Drabble, Lessing’s old friend, and Lessing scholar Roberta Rubenstein will be in conversation with Professor Christopher Bigsby. The international academic conference Doris Lessing at 100: The Writer’s Quest takes place 12-14 Sep. Further information can be found here: http://dorislessing.org


One of the optional sessions of this conference included ‘Archival Encounter’. This attracted 16 staff to the Archives for an introduction to our work and the collections as well as that of the East Anglian Film Archive. There were opportunities to search and view film clips, navigate through the ‘Suffragette Stories’ online exhibits, see some noteworthy publications held in Special Collections and follow the creative process in a range of unique archive materials.


This annual visit to the Archives provided students the opportunity to examine the manuscript drafts and writing process of Sara Taylor’s short stories. Nine attendees.


This session was led by Jos Smith, Director of the BACW. The suffragettes archive was used as a focus from which to explore and develop critical thinking and creative writing. This collection is particularly inspirational for conversation and story-telling around forgotten legacies and women’s equality. 17 attendees.

‘Really fascinating to see records of such a relevant and revolutionary time, and to get a glimpse into the lives of women who created so many opportunities for women today.’

‘The idea of historical fiction is one not covered much at A-level.’

‘The session was interesting and surrounded a topic I am passionate about, and drew questions surrounding genre.’

Special Collections

There were 12 requests.

Beyond the Bauhaus: Walter Gropius in the UK and US

Display in UEA Archives Foyer, 8 July – 6 September 2019

DSCF37822019 marks the centenary of the founding of the unique and legendary Bauhaus school of art. Founded by Walter Gropius in Weimar in 1919 the Bauhaus then moved to Dessau and Berlin. In 1933 it was closed by its governing body under pressure from the Nazi regime, having been painted as a centre of communist intellectualism.

The school had three different architect-directors and was hugely influential in modern design, architecture & art. The tensions leading up to WWII meant that many of its former staff left Germany, taking with them their ideas and passion for design. The Bauhaus style spread around the world and became noteworthy in modern art, design and typography through subsequent decades.

UEA Archives holds the papers of Jack and Molly Pritchard, two visionary friends who helped and housed Walter Gropius from 1934-1937 in London. Jack Pritchard was a furniture designer with an entrepreneurial spirit. He and Molly believed in a liberal, simplistic and convenient way of living, free from the trappings of domesticity with time and outlets to develop one’s talents and social connections. They set about building the Lawn Road Flats (the Isokon Building). Opened in 1934, the flats became the home of Walter and Ise Gropius from 1934-1937.

Extracts from the archive shine a light on Gropius’s stay in the UK, as well his subsequent years in the US. His friendship with the Pritchards continued into his twilight years.

Today, The Bauhaus Dessau Foundation, founded in 1994, is a centre of research, teaching and experimental design.

Documents included in the Archive display:

Letters showing the English architect Maxwell Fry assisting Gropius in coming to the UK. Gropius was able to leave Nazi Germany in 1934, on the pretext of making a temporary visit to Italy for a film propaganda festival; he then fled to Britain and was met by Jack Pritchard at Victoria Station on 18 October 1934.

A letter from Jack Pritchard extending a hand to Walter Gropius and arranging his employment in the UK with architect Maxwell Fry (working on the Manchester flats project). Pritchard also offers Gropius a place to live at Lawn Road Flats. “I shall be very glad to put one of our flats at your disposal while you are in England.”

A photograph of the Pritchard family at the opening of The Lawn Road Flats, July 1934.

Letters showing Maxwell Fry and Jack Pritchard applying to the Ministry of Labour for Walter Gropius to work in the UK. The application outlines Gropius’s assistance with a special design project – ‘Ioskon 2’ in Manchester. Although all aspects of the scheme were covered, the flats were never built.

A photograph of an aluminium waste-paper basket designed by Gropius in 1935 and made in 1936 by Taylor-Law of Birmingham.

A photograph of Gropius’s prototype chair in solid wood. Designed for Isokon in 1936, five years before Eames’ and Saarinen’s iconic double-curved pieces, the A1 proved impossible to make. It was designed to be made from as few pieces of plywood as possible but greatly reinforced. Its complex curves on the back proved too much for manufacturer Venesta who concluded that it was so complicated it couldn’t be made in one piece. The design represented a radical departure from existing plywood moulding capabilities, and despite its failure, it marks a significant stage in the history of 20th century furniture.

A pamphlet on the Kendal Flats in Manchester (1937). A flat designed “to satisfy one’s need for relaxation and stimulating diversion. Living free from the friction caused by unpractical surroundings is essential for the attainment of the maximum amount of personal liberty and independence.”

A photograph of Impington Village College. During his three years in England Walter Gropius worked in partnership with Maxwell Fry and designed the Impington Village College in Cambridge, completed in 1939.

A letter where Gropius battles to pay his rent and asks if he can pay in German marks. After six months work he would have hoped not to be in this situation but after the cancellation of the Manchester flats scheme he had to look for new assignments.


Dr Markova, Marcel Breuer, Ise and Walter Gropius. Photo by Edith Tudor-Hart, Pritchard Papers

Photograph of Ise and Walter at Lawn Road Flats’ 1st birthday, 1935.

Letter by Gropius while a tenant at Lawn Road Flats. He likes his flat but makes several suggestions as to how it may be altered. This includes structural changes and furniture for flat no. 15 in order to make it more suitable for socialising.

A chart by the Design and industries Association relating some of Walter Gropius’s work to contemporary events to give some measure to his pioneering achievements.

Gropius’s farewell speech, 9 March 1937 in which he praises the UK for holding back on short-term gains in the interests of more long lasting progress.

DSCF3787Seating arrangement, menu and guest list at Gropius’ farewell, 1937.

A photograph of Gropius saying farewell to László Moholy-Nagy at Waterloo station, before making his way to Southampton to board a ship to the US, 1937. Later that year Moholy-Nagy would move to Chicago and become Director of the New Bauhaus.

A press-cutting describing Gropius’s 1937 move to the US to take up the appointment of Professor of Architecture at the Graduate School of Design, Harvard; he became Chairman of the Department of Architecture in 1938 and Professor Emeritus in 1952. He was in partnership with Marcel Breuer (1937-40) and designed a number of buildings including his home in Lincoln, Mass.

Postcards and letters between the Pritchard and Gropius families as they kept in close touch.

Brochures and picture postcards of ‘Gropius House’, Lincoln Massachusetts. Built in 2937, the former family home is now open to the public as a property of Historic New England. The house exemplifies the introduction of the European modern movement to the US. It is a successful hybrid of Bauhaus principles, American mass-produced components and conveniences.

A letter from Julian Huxley (biologist) accepting his invitation to a dinner celebrating Walter Gropius’s conferment of the Royal Gold Medal for Architecture, 1956.

Guest list, seating arrangement and speakers for a dinner celebrating Gropius’s conferment of the Royal Gold Medal for Architecture, 1956.

Gropius’s speech on receiving the Royal Gold Medal for Architecture, 1956 wherein he remarks on friendships, his anxieties about Germany in 1937, and his apprehensions about moving to the US.

Photographs of the restored Lawn Road Flats. In 1997 a single flat, no. 22, was fully restored. This is similar to Gropius’s former flat no. 15. All 32 flats were fully refurbished by 2004 and sold. Nowadays one can visit the Isokon Gallery (the former garage) which is open on weekends http://www.isokongallery.co.uk

A memorial leaflet for Gropius (1883-1969) which includes a quote wherein he urges friends to celebrate.

A press-cutting on Ise Gropius and how she revitalised the Bauhaus / Gropius legacy in the years following his death. She played a key role in international exhibitions, in educating young people and in opening her home to the public. She reflects on the Bauhaus having been something which quite possibly might not have happened had thy known what was to follow, the arrival of Hitler, the war. She urges young people to live life to the full.

In summary, Jack Pritchard remarks on Walter Gropius’s influence:

“It is difficult to pinpoint any special influence Gropius had on me. … It was the total scene that he was concerned with. He made as it were, a synthesis of life’s work. He was concerned with all the various activities of the whole person in a community.”

Contact us: UEA Archives at University of East Anglia Library archives@uea.ac.uk Tel: +44 01603 593491

Bridget Gillies

Exploring the Archives: a monthly update: June 2019



Walnut Tree Farm. Copyright Estate of Roger Deakin

  • The Archives are pleased to have been of assistance with a newly published work Life at Walnut Tree Farm by Rufus Deakin and Titus Rowlandson. Richly illustrated, the book examines the property formerly owned by nature writer Roger Deakin; the restoration of the semi-ruined Elizabethan farmhouse by Deakin, and his passion for the surrounding countryside in which he quite literally immersed himself.
  • An article on born digital archives from Paul Gooding, Jos Smith and Justine Mann “The Forensic Imagination: Interdisciplinary Approaches to Tracing Creativity in Writers’ Born-Digital Archives” has been accepted for publication in a special issues of the journal: Archives and Manuscripts (Taylor and Francis). The paper draws on a panel event at the ‘Born Digital Literary Archives’ event that took place at Loughborough University in January 2017.

‘Institutions in the 21c. Libraries, Archives and Digital Heritage: Projects and Prospects’ – Heritage Dot Conference, University of Lincoln, 3 June

Justine Mann joined a panel of colleagues from the British Library at the inaugural Heritage Dot Conference to talk about the challenges and opportunities of digital in archive and libraries. The innovative governance model for the BACW and the challenges in archiving born digital literary material were discussed. http://heritagedot.org/

Interviews for internship, 13 June

The Strachey Trust has generously granted funds to the British Archive for Contemporary Writing (BACW) to employ a UEA graduate intern to assist in an archive cataloguing project during the Nobel laureate, Doris Lessing’s Centenary year.

This role will help to improve the visibility of the Doris Lessing Archive catalogue ahead of a major international conference in September. An LDC finalist was offered the role as part of UEA’s Graduate Internship Programme.

Enquiries & Visits


UEA’s School of Literature, Drama and Creative Writing (LDC) hosted this event for teachers of English Literature. The focus was dystopian fiction, in particular Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale. They examined questions of narrative, voice, structure, theme, genre and the dystopian tradition in literature, with the aim being to suggest some fresh perspectives that the teachers could use with their students. 18 attendees.


These have been for Naomi Alderman’s The Power and J.D. Salinger’s personal letters. We’ve also gained some biographical information relating to the children’s illustrator Cecil Mary Leslie, which complements our collection of original ink drawings.


From the Zuckerman  Archive we’ve received enquiries on the WWII school essays; the history of bio-engineering; the disaster of the Torrey Canyon (an oil tanker which hit rocks off the coast of Cornwall); defence; Lord Mountbatten; and the history of the School of Environmental Sciences at UEA.

Special Collections

There were 5 requests.

Exploring the Archives: a monthly update: May 2019

Creative Writing Workshops

A series of creative writing workshops was held in the Archives by Fiona Sinclair (former Writer in Residence on the Suffragette Stories project) on 23 May. Students were able to draw on the experiences and documentary evidence of the suffragettes to develop their own narratives and creative writing skills. Eight attendees from LDC.

Doris Lessing at 100

Planning is well underway for UEA’s celebrations to mark the centenary of the Nobel laureate, Doris Lessing, in Autumn 2019. Highlights from Lessing’s vast archive of correspondence, held within the BACW, will be exhibited at the Sainsbury Centre from 12 Sep 2019 – 9 Feb 2020 alongside loans from national museums and The National Archives (TNA). The exhibition will explore the less familiar side of Lessing’s life as well as celebrate her notable achievements in literature, political activism and feminism. Her official biographer, Patrick French, who has used the archive extensively, will be in conversation with Professor Christopher Bigsby on its opening evening. A Doris Lessing at 100 academic conference, with wide participation from a range of high profile international scholars of Lessing will be held during 12-14 September 2019. More about these events can be found on the conference website: http://dorislessing100.org or www.uea.ac.uk/bacw

Enquiries & Visits


Louise Doughty Paula Hawkins and Tracy Chevalier

Louise Doughty, Paula Hawkins and Tracy Chevalier

UEA Creative Writing graduates Tracy Chevalier (Girl with a Pearl Earring) and Louise Doughty (Apple Tree Yard) along with Paula Hawkins (The Girl on the Train) were introduced to the BACW to see how students and researchers work with material. Tracy was reunited with drafts of her short stories and first novel.


DSCF3753 00228 agents from a host of countries visited us to learn about the benefits of the literary archive collections to students of Literature and Creative Writing (LDC), how the collections are used in teaching, and the ways in which our students engage with the Archives through volunteer blogging, digitisation projects and research.


We’ve offered general advice to the following: a US researcher interested in the literacy narratives of self-taught authors and how they became literate; a doctoral student researching poetry in television; and a UEA staff member on the restrictions pertaining to the filming of works which are under copyright.


Annie Kenney statue Oldham by Jeremy Sutcliffe

Statue of suffragette Annie Kenney in Oldham. Photo by Jeremy Sutcliffe

  • An elderly couple from Oldham have made the journey to Norwich to spend three days with us getting to know the archive of working class Oldham sisters Annie and Jessie Kenney. Annie played a significant role in the campaign for women’s suffrage and in 2018 a bronze statue was erected in her honour in the centre of Oldham.
  • A Heritage Foundation has sought permission to reproduce a photograph from the collection in a new publication.


Matt Salinger (J.D. Salinger’s son) paid us a visit to see some of the 50 letters his father wrote to a friend Donald Hartog. These are available to see in the Archives. More details.

Rowen Bryer, third-year English Literature undergraduate has contributed a blog post about the letters entitled J.D. Salinger: On ageing, friendship, and keeping a vegetable garden.


Heather Martin, Child’s official biographer has spent a week in the Archives taking a close look at drafts and manuscripts of the first novels in the Jack Reacher series. The collection remains closed for cataloguing.


  • David Bellos’ drafts, working documents, and corrected copies of his translations of the works of French writer Georges Perec were consulted by a LDC student.
  • We supplied biographical information on translator Patricia Crampton, for a Dictionary of National Biography (DNB) entry. Crampton served as translator at the Nuremberg War Crimes Trials and translated many stories for children.


This collection has been consulted by a LDC student with a special focus on the work Disobedience.


  • Walter Gropius visionary founder of the BauhausThe Archives is pleased to have assisted Fiona MacCarthy with her newly published book Walter Gropius: Visionary Founder of the Bauhaus. Faber & Faber, 2019. Chapters 14-18 examine Gropius’s years in London (1934-37) and draw heavily on the Pritchard Papers.
  • An academic from the University of Newcastle has spent a couple of days with us researching the relationships between architectural design and building products manufacturers in the interwar period. More from our blog on early plywood design.
  • We’ve provided a photograph for a forthcoming Australian architectural publication.
  • An academic from South Africa has sought a 1956 speech by scientist Julian Huxley wherein he recognises the contributions of the designer and architect Walter Gropius as well as the importance of the integration of art, architecture and science.



Western end of Lasdun’s ‘teaching wall’, circa 1969

The appointed architects of the ‘teaching wall’ refurbishment project visited to consult floor plans, development plans and architect’s sketch design reports from the 1960s. Estates have also been supplied with photos and plans for submission to architects and designers.


Interviews which have been accessed include those of Jay McInerney (2006) and Michael Chabon (2012).


  • Aerial photographs, target maps and reports on the strategic bombing of German towns are currently on display in the Norwich Castle Museum & Art Gallery exhibition Lines of Sight. W.G. Sebald’s East Anglia, until 6 January 2020.
  • A PGR student is beginning to research the history of UEA’s School of Environmental Sciences, established in 1967. Zuckerman is one of UEA’s founders who also played a key role in establishing the School.

Special Collections

There were 13 requests.

Five books from Special Collections are currently on display at Norwich Castle Museum & Art Gallery in the exhibition Lines of Sight. W.G. Sebald’s East Anglia, until 6 January 2020. These include a 17th century volume of the works of Sir Thomas Browne.

J.D. Salinger: On ageing, friendship, and keeping a vegetable garden

An Unboxed blog from, Rowen Bryer, third-year English Literature undergraduate at the University of East Anglia.

“These letters challenge received ideas of Salinger – his apparently misanthropic public exterior and his rebellious teenage protagonist – and instead provide an invaluable insight into the man behind the desk, a man who deals with the hardships, pitfalls, and inevitabilities of life with a chirpy attitude.”


J.D. Salinger (r) visiting Donald Hartog in England, 1989. © Frances Hartog.

J.D. Salinger met Donald Hartog in Vienna in 1937. Both were eighteen and had been sent by their fathers to learn German. The two young men sparked an immediate friendship. Following Salinger’s return to America in 1938, it became a written correspondence that continued for some years. Sadly, letters written prior to 1950 have been lost.

In 1986, however, Hartog wrote to Salinger and reignited their old correspondence. These letters were donated by Hartog’s family after his death in 2007 and are currently held in the British Archive for Contemporary Writing at the University of East Anglia, UK. The collection consists of fifty letters written by Salinger to Hartog, four postcards, a photograph of the two men, and a handful of newspaper clippings—from dieting tips to an article on heavy rainfall in England—that makes us privy to the man behind the reclusive persona, a man who writes to a dear friend about his vegetable garden, old age, family health, and the weather.

Salinger was, and still is, frequently penned as ‘hermit-like’ by journalists. On 1 April 1988, writing to Hartog about his house situated in a rural part of New England, Salinger gleefully notes that the nearest house to his is a quarter of a mile away, and he can only be reached by a long winding path. Whilst this was in line with the public perception of Salinger— that he was reclusive, introverted, and unsociable— his innocent letters to Hartog present another dimension to this figure. Rather than the unreachable recluse that Salinger was thought to be, the cheery ‘Jerry’ who signs off each of these letters instead reveals the normalcy of the famous writer.


JD Salinger letters at the British Archive for Contemporary Writing, UEA Archives

For a writer so renowned for accurately depicting teenage angst through his protagonist Holden Caulfield in The Catcher in the Rye, it is unsurprising that Salinger often writes to Hartog of age and youth.

Many of his letters to Hartog playfully pokes at their age and its rapid advance. In a letter dated December 8th, 1988, Salinger writes of the deceptive nature of time; he asks incredulously how it could be that two eighteen-year-olds like them were both approaching their seventies. Salinger remarks cheerfully that they had made it: they were officially elderly men.

Salinger never appears to dwell negatively on his advancing years, however, and instead writes jokingly that Hartog, aged eighteen, already acted as an old man when they met in Vienna. Salinger’s approach to aging is pleasantly light. These letters challenge received ideas of Salinger – his apparently misanthropic public exterior and his rebellious teenage protagonist – and instead provide an invaluable insight into the man behind the desk, a man who deals with the hardships, pitfalls, and inevitabilities of life with a chirpy attitude.

Despite their correspondence petering into apparent silence in 2002, Salinger and Hartog’s warm and kind friendship survives through these archived letters. They speak of two eighteen-year-old friends, now in their seventies, approaching old age, poking fun at it, living in it, and ultimately allowing themselves to revel in it.

Rowen Bryer is a third-year English Literature undergraduate at the University of East Anglia and a volunteer blogger for the British Archive of Contemporary Writing.

Rowen was reading the Salinger Hartog letters, held within the British Archive for Contemporary Writing at UEA.

More about this collection: https://portal.uea.ac.uk/library/archives/bacw/salinger