Exploring the Archives: a monthly update: July 2018


DSCF3589The ‘Angela Carter and Japan’ display can be seen in the Archives throughout July & August. This followed the symposium held in the Julian Studies building at the end of June. Curator of the exhibition, Visiting Research Fellow Natsumi Ikoma, has written about the origins of the exhibition in a separate post.

UEA Literary Festival at 25
The British Archive for Contemporary Writing holds 300+ recordings of past literary festivals. 25 interviews were digitised and remastered in 2015 with a view to sharing online to celebrate this milestone but also with a view to digital preservation of these, often vulnerable, physical formats from the past. Student volunteers have viewed the recordings and identified the best clips for sharing. These are currently being shared via the UEA Literary Festival and Archives social media with the hashtag: #25UEALitFest


‘Texts in Motion’ Literature Summer School 2 July
Tutors from Literature, Drama and Creative Writing (LDC) led three workshops on the creative writing process. In all, 36 sixth formers attended.

From ‘Untitled’ to ‘Things I could Tell You’. This workshop examined what the archive tells us about Sara Taylor’s writing process from early draft to finished product.

Tash Aw’s short story The Sail was the focus of the second workshop. The students were asked what interested or intrigued them about the archival material; why the process of drafting and editing is of interest to a student of literature; and why it is of interest to a creative writer.

Faculty of Humanities, Research Showcase 4 July
A presentation was given to academic colleagues on research and engagement initiatives underway within the BACW, as well as the range of potential further opportunities to work with colleagues. A display from the suffragette archives was also provided.

Open days 6 and 7 July
24 prospective students attended talks and consulted the collections in the Archive Reading Room, to learn how UEA archive material is used in humanities teaching and research skills development with unique cultural heritage material from suffragettes to literary icons.

For the first time, UEA Archives had a presence in the Media Suite for Open Day. Chase Placement PGR student, Annie Kelly (AMA), currently based in the Archives, gave a hands on demonstration to all those visiting the Digitisation Suite on the process involved in digitising our suffragette archive, as part of our Heritage Lottery Funded project, Suffragette Stories.

FLY Festival (Festival of Literature for Young People) 9 July
‘The Life of Writing Workshop’ with LDC tutor Nonia Williams provided a group of sixth formers with the opportunity to work with materials from Sara Taylor’s Archive. Participants compared first drafts with published versions of Taylor’s short stories to help them understand the process of drafting and editing prose fiction before embarking on their own writing within the session.

Creative Writing International Summer School 18 July
Seminar on the Creative Process, five international student attendees. LDC tutor, Kate Moorhead-Kuhn, worked with Sara Taylor’s short story archive material to help students chart the writing process from early draft to published version. Students also examined the material of authors Richard Beard, Andrew Cowan and Tash Aw to understand the process of submissions to literary agents and publishers

• UEA graduate, Sam Coleman, currently studying an MSc in information management at Sheffield University, interviewed Justine Mann and Grant Young (Academic Engagement Librarian HUM) on the relationship between Libraries and Archives for his dissertation.

Doris Lessing Archive

We have received a deposit of a 1984 letter from Lessing to her Russian tutor. Along with this is the tutor’s account of their association in the 1980s, Lessing’s approach to her studies and the sort of people she would have encountered on the course.

Pritchard Papers

• A Canadian Professor of Art History with a specialism in László Moholy-Nagy (Bauhaus professor) has visited over two days.
• Images are being supplied for a 2019 publication on the architect Walter Gropius.


Dinner menu designed by Moholy-Nagy

Theatre Collections

A UEA student has requested information on electric theatres and cinema in Norfolk. Many local theatres doubled-up as cinemas. Notes from 1919 provide recollections on the opening of cinema theatres across East Anglia by Mr Frederick Holmes Cooper. The first being the Electric Theatre in Wisbech c.1910.

UEA Collection

The report of the 1963 UEA expedition to Nepal has been consulted.

Zuckerman Archive

A 1950s report on nuclear weapons is being cross-checked.

Special Collections

There were 8 requests.


Angela Carter’s Intellectual and Personal Adventures in Japan

Natsumi IKOMA, Visiting Professor to the School of Literature, Drama and Creative Writing at UEA, discusses the influence of Japan on Angela Carter and the origins of the exhibition she curated for the British Archive for Contemporary Writing.

In 1969, Angela Carter visited Japan for the first time in her life with the money received from the Somerset Maugham Literary Award. She had expected to find the exotic and strange, like many European intelligentsia who visited the land of the Orient before her. But what she came across there was beyond her preconceptions.


Encounters with Japan, its culture and its people had such a huge impact on Angela Carter that her scholars differentiate the works as Pre-Japan and Post-Japan. She lived with a Japanese boyfriend in Tokyo. Their time together – just a few years – was intensely romantic, but often plagued with harsh power struggles. Twenty odd years after their defeat in World War 2, Japan, and this young man, were suffering from complex issues. They were trying to regain the confidence and authority they believed they once owned. He was sensitive to the objectifying treatment that Japanese people receive from Europeans and Americans. Being in a relationship with a European woman, an established writer, was a difficult one for him. Eventually, the relationship ended unhappily, even though they shared many intellectual interests and sensibilities. But her will to understand him and his country was a strong motivation to overcome the apt othering of the Orient. She acquired sensitivity towards gender, race, and power issues partly from this relationship, which contributed to Carter’s unique writings. Because of this personal experience, Angela Carter is so unique in British literature.

While she was in Japan, she was a diligent student of Japanese culture and society, trying to absorb every tiny detail. She read numerous books, both literary and scholarly, perused journal articles, enjoyed and analysed comic books. She watched many theatre performances, such as Kabuki and Bunraku, and saw many films including blue-films. She was fascinated by the juxtaposition of high and low culture in Japan, and by the proliferation of the sex industry, just a street away from serene residential areas. The mixture of literary flamboyant expression with lewd remarks, one of the trademarks of Angela Carter’s writings, was arguably acquired during her Japanese days. She loved to discuss her findings with her Japanese boyfriend. The complex city, the world’s most populated city then, gave her an opportunity to examine the relations among gender, race, and power not only in Japan but also in the UK, in Europe and in the world, and offered a new insight.

When I came across the list of books owned by Angela Carter in the British Archive for Contemporary Writing at the University of East Anglia [held within the Lorna Sage Archive], I was delighted. I had been studying the influence of Japanese culture on Carter’s writings for years, and was convinced of the extensive research done by Angela Carter regarding Japan. The list confirmed my conviction. During my sabbatical year at UEA I have recovered some of the books from the list, and with the immense and invaluable help provided by Justine Mann, managed to compile exhibition materials to show, at the Symposium: Angela Carter and Japan, that took place at UEA on 30 June, 2018, which was organized by myself and Dr Stephen Benson of LDC. You can see Carter’s extensive study of Japanese society and culture, which she continued even after she returned to UK. You can now see the exhibition materials at 02 floor of UEA Library until early September 2018 and then by appointment only in the Archive Reading Room during October 2018.

British Archive for Contemporary Writing at UEA: http://www.uea.ac.uk/bacw