Plotting the Perfect Crime: a crime writing exhibition from the British Archive for Contemporary Writing at UEA

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This year’s crime writing exhibition, created to coincide with Noirwich, reveals the intricate planning behind some of our greatest contemporary crime novels, with material from Val McDermid, Stuart MacBride and Robert Edric, author of a crime trilogy set in Hull, this year’s City of Culture. Stuart MacBride predicts a nosebleed amongst fellow writers.

Here archivist, Justine Mann, introduces her personal highlights.

Stuart MacBride

MacBride’s notebooks and mindmaps are the earliest incarnation of his novels. He has created a literal map to visualise his fictional town of Old Castle, all the better to locate the murders and the distances between them. What begins as an impressive tool evolves into something the Ordnance Survey would be proud of and is published within a subsequent novel. Perhaps the most striking of elements within this display is a graph. At first glance it appears to be a chart of multiple, frantic, sound waves but on closer inspection it reveals the cadences of plot points marshalled to pinpoint accuracy in order to create the most devastating effect on the reader. He remarks casually, that ‘This has been known to give other writers nose bleeds’. This display also reveals his painstaking restructuring of the plot for In the Cold Dark Ground, scene by scene with scissors and sellotape.

Val McDermid

The author’s latest novel, Insidious Intent, ‘impeccably plotted and intensely gripping’ also began in notebook form. On display are original pages from a numbered outline charting key plot developments. ‘When I start a book, I have an idea of the story arc and I’ve spent most of my prep time thinking about the characters: how they’re going to conduct themselves, how they got to be the person they are today.’

The evidence here suggests that McDermid’s subconscious is working hard on plot design before she tackles the page. While crafting the language she refers to the outline notes to keep the structure on track. She recently revealed her daily routine to The Guardian:

‘Around the second cup of coffee, I take a look at what I last wrote, tweaking and revising, stripping the prose back till I’m more at ease with it. I spend the first month feeling my way into the book, getting a sense of its world and learning its nooks and crannies. Then it picks up pace and I can’t escape it.’

Robert Edric

How does a literary novelist take on the challenge of writing crime fiction? In 2002, the Booker longlisted author, Robert Edric, took a break from writing literary novels, to create a crime trilogy set in Hull, this year’s City of Culture. In The Times, Neel Mukherjee, applauded Cradle Song, Edric’s first, for: “its vertiginously devious plot twists, the maze of multiple-crossings (which) all close like a fist around the throat of the reader.”

“When I’m working on a literary novel,” Edric says, “it’s less important to me whether I write a, then d, g , x then e. The meaning of the book might be in the middle. The goal is not the end, but whether it fails or succeeds in your own mind. With a crime novel, you’re less organic. There has to be a logical process.’

A sense of place has always been important to Edric and in the opening chapter on display he uses Spurn Point, a bleak yet beautiful peninsular, 30 miles from Hull and ravaged on all sides by the North Sea, as the setting of a key meeting between ex copper, Sullivan, and private investigator, Rivers. The drafts reveal the key phrases and striking images that survive, almost in tact, from first draft through to final publication, as well as the tweaks and line edits that heighten characterisation and plot tension.

Previewed on Friday 15 September (UEA, TPSC Foyer) /

UEA Archives Foyer, UEA Library Floor 02, Tue 19 Sept – Fri 22 Dec (Free access)

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Plywood: Material of the Modern World

This exhibition opens at the Victoria and Albert Museum on 15 July 2017. ‘Featuring groundbreaking pieces by Alvar Aalto, Marcel Breuer and Charles and Ray Eames, alongside an incredible range of objects from planes to skateboards, this exhibition tells the story of how this often-overlooked material made the modern world.’

On display from UEA Archives are printed designs showing plywood profiles for railway carriages. These were produced by Estonian furniture maker A.M. Luther Ltd, circa 193? They form part of the Pritchard Papers, an archive rich in the history and development of the use of plywood in furniture making.

Plywood in the Pritchard Papers

Jack Pritchard began producing plywood furniture from 1933. The first products were modular shelf units designed by Wells Coates and manufactured by Venesta (Pritchard’s then employer). Venesta was a useful introduction to the industry, with its factories in Estonia, Latvia and Finland. A couple of years later Pritchard set up Isokon Furniture Company. They marketed the designs of other companies such as Finmar and PEL, and with the arrival of European designers Marcel Breuer and Walter Gropius expanded their own range of furniture with a particular emphasis on plywood. Marcel Breuer’s Long Chair was a resounding success and is still manufactured today by Isokon Plus.

Other noteworthy items include Egon Riss’ Penguin Donkey book-case and Bottleship, both re-designed after the War by Ernest Race; and Breuer’s nesting tables.

Pritchard not only worked with plywood but he also surrounded himself with it at home. He and his wife Molly built the iconic Lawn Road Flats in Hampstead, London. A block of flats built for minimalist living, complete with built-in wardrobes, modular shelf units, nifty partitions, and a love of all things light and portable which facilitated an unencumbered lifestyle. Plywood did all of this. The Isokon flats are now grade I listed and include a gallery celebrating the buildings’ history, including the history of its members’ only Isobar restaurant.

A search for ‘plywood’ in the catalogue delivers over 200 results. It includes patents; details of the supply of furniture and raw products; customer orders; sales; correspondence; and Pritchard’s 1939 lecture ‘Design in Plywood’. Here he highlights the qualities of plywood, and the opportunities which arise when making full use of its “natural whippiness and springiness”, most evident in a new area of development involving the creation of built-up timber. He refers to Breuer’s Long Chair as being the greatest achievement in the use of plywood to date.

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Photographs: Pritchard Papers, University of East Anglia.

Pritchard Papers and online guide
Isokon Gallery
Marcel Breuer Digital Archive
Plywood exhibition at the V&A

If you would like to know more about the collection please contact archives@uea.ac.uk

Temporary disruption to UEA Archives and Special Collections during summer 2017

There will be some temporary disruption to the UEA Archives and Special Collections service, including the British Archive for Contemporary Writing (BACW), during summer 2017.

The UEA Library is undertaking a space project to create further student study spaces. The work requires Archives staff to relocate from their office on Floor 02. The adjacent Archive Reading Room will also be affected during this time.

To safeguard material:

There will be no access to archive collections between 16 June and 18 August.

There will be limited access to Special Collections items by prior arrangement.

Archive staff will be working during office hours and are able to answer queries regarding the collections.

Below are some frequently asked questions about the planned work.

If you have any concerns whatsoever, please let us know.

We regret any inconvenience caused.

Justine Mann, Archivist, British Archive for Contemporary Writing

Bridget Gillies, Archives Assistant, UEA Archives

e: archives@uea.ac.uk

t: (voicemail only available during this period) 01603 59 3483  / 01603 59 3419

FAQ

How will the work affect users of University of East Anglia Archives and Special Collections?

The Archive Reading Room will be inaccessible between 15 June and 18 August.

To safeguard collections, there will be no access to Archive material during this time.

If you have any concerns about the loss of access during this period, please contact Justine Mann justine.mann@uea.ac.uk.

Archives staff will relocate from their office to a nearby Silent Reading Room.

Our office hours will be as normal and we can answer archive queries during this time.

There will be limited and bookable access to Special Collections items (books/ pamphlets) within the nearby Silent Reading Room by prior arrangement with Archive staff who will supervise visits.

There will be one microfilm reader available within Silent Reading Room – Periodicals Rm 02.32  with a printing facility. This will be bookable by prior arrangement.

Unless advertised otherwise on our Website, access hours will be 09:30-12:30 and 13:30-16:30 as usual.

Please email archives@uea.ac.uk to make a request for Special Collections or for microfilm access and provide as much notice as possible.

If we have no existing bookings on a particular day, we will assist you whenever we can.

We apologise for the inconvenience caused during this period.

Our Website pages will contain up to date information on access:

For further information on the Library Space Project, click here.

 

 

A feast of languages – Shakespeare in Translation on display at UEA

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Shakespeare in Translation

To mark the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death in 2016, the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Translation (DGT) in London put together a collection of translations of Shakespeare’s comedy A Midsummer Night’s Dream into many of the official languages of the European Union.

Seventeen languages are represented in addition to English: Croatian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, Estonian, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Hungarian, Italian, Latvian, Lithuanian, Polish, Romanian, Spanish and Swedish. The versions were donated by Field Officers in the respective EU Member States and are on display in three exhibition cases within the lobby of the University of East Anglia’s (UEA) library.

The DGT kindly agreed to lend the collection to UEA to coincide with the workshop conference ‘Shakespeare in Translation’, hosted over the weekend of 10-11 December 2016 by the British Centre for Literary Translation in collaboration with the British Council, Globe Education, the Romanian Cultural Institute and Writers’ Centre Norwich.

The exhibition continues until Easter 2017.

Professor Duncan Large

British Centre for Literary Translation

More information: http://www.bclt.org.uk

2015 UN Climate Change Conference – and the man who revived the theory on carbon dioxide & climate change

The 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference, COP21 meets in Paris 30 November – 11 December. The key objective is to achieve a legally binding and universal agreement on climate, from all the nations of the world.

G S Callendar 1934

Guy Stewart Callendar, 1934. Callendar Papers, UEA.

In the light of this we are featuring G.S. Callendar’s Archive and his carbon dioxide theory of climate change.

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’.

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.

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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.

A digitised version of the archive is available for consultation in the Archive and is also available for purchase from the Royal Meteorological Society. This is sold separately as a companion guide to James Fleming’s The Callendar Effect: Life and Work of Guy Stewart Callendar (1898-1964), the Scientist who Established the Carbon Dioxide Theory of Climate Change. American Meteorological Society, 2007.

Two of Callendar’s notebooks are on exhibit at the Science Museum as part of the exhibit Atmosphere: Exploring Climate Change. The exhibit runs until the end of 2018.

G.S. Callendar Archive at UEA

Suffragette sisters Annie and Jessie Kenney

This week sees the release of the British historical period drama film Suffragette. An opportunity then to highlight the papers held in the Archives of two suffragette sisters, Annie (1879-1953) and Jessie Kenney (1887-1985).

Annie Kenney (1879-1953) Copyright Kenney Papers

Annie Kenney (1879-1953) Copyright Kenney Papers

This is an extensive collection which includes correspondence with Lady Constance Lytton and the Pankhursts. (In the film, Emmeline Pankhurst is played by Meryl Streep).

Annie and Jessie were sisters in a family of 12 children. Born in Springhead, Yorkshire they both started their working life as cotton-mill operatives.

In 1905 Annie was recruited to the cause of women’s suffrage after hearing Mrs Pankhurst and her daughters addressing an open-air meeting in Manchester, and on 13th October 1905 she accompanied Christabel Pankhurst to an election meeting in Manchester Free Trade Hall. The pair heckled the speaker, Sir Edward Grey, were evicted, and conducted an impromptu meeting in the street. They were arrested and imprisoned, Annie for three days, and Christabel for seven. Thereafter Annie Kenney was a leading figure in the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU), the organisation founded by Emmeline Pankhurst in 1903.

Memorabilia from the Kenney Papers

Memorabilia from the Kenney Papers

Jessie Kenney worked alongside Christabel Pankhurst in Paris from 1912, assisting Christabel in the long-range direction of WSPU operations. In 1917 she accompanied Emmeline Pankhurst to Russia, on behalf of the British government. Their particular objective was to promote the mobilisation of Russian women in the war effort. Jessie was in Russia for some three months and made a detailed record of events which she later prepared for publication under the title The Price of Liberty. The unpublished manuscript and diary records are contained in the Kenney Papers.

Further information and a detailed listing of the Kenney Papers.

The Kenney Papers were consulted widely for the book Lady Constance Lytton by Lyndsey Jenkins (2015).