Exploring the Archives: a monthly update: April 2018


Norfolk Festival of Nature ‘celebrating the cultural relationships that exist between people and nature’ took place at the Forum in Norwich on 21 & 22 April. The literary element of the event was launched by Jos Smith and included Mark Cocker in conversation with Jean McNeil; the launch of Cocker’s new book Our Place and discussion and debate on ‘nature’s moral conscience’, nature conservation and the role of nature writing. The BACW displayed archive materials from Cocker’s collection.

NFON Exhibition Evening

Norfolk Festival of Nature

Teaching sessions in the Archives

• LDC PGT Publishing Module. This featured selected correspondence and manuscripts from the archives of: Tash Aw, Richard Beard, Andrew Cowan, Roger Deakin and Doris Lessing. Students were introduced to the BACW; they explored the editorial process and relationships between authors, editors and agents through real examples; and reflected on their own literary archives.

‘Seeing hard evidence of how an author and their agent talks formally with publishers is very helpful as an aspiring writer.’
‘Highly relevant. I concentrated only on Tash Aw’s story. It is neatly organized and I got to know the whole story from pitching to promotion of a book.’

Spring 2018 Visit MA Publishing cropped

LDC PGT Publishing Module

• LDC UG Short Stories Module. The students were able to see drafts, workshop comments and correspondence relating to Tash Aw’s short story The Sail, Naomi Alderman’s award winning Gravity and Sarah Taylor’s novel The Shore (a novel developed from short stories).

‘It was interesting to see and read the whole process of writing a short story.’
‘Seeing the steps of the process changes the way I think about the story.’


The Librarian from Cornell University, New York has visited to explore our research materials relating to American Studies.

A.P. Watt Archive

Following the recent death of the novelist Philip Kerr (1956-2018), his embargoed papers within this collection have now been made available. Kerr is the creator of the Bernie Gunther detective thriller series.

Charles Pick Archive

Requests relating to the wider William Heinemann archive are being referred to the Random House Group Archive and Library

Mark Cocker Archive

A recent deposit of papers relating to Loneliness and Time: British Travel Writing in the Twentieth Century (1992) has been listed and made available. Contains biographical research papers and correspondence concerning prominent travel writers.

Naomi Alderman Archive

MA students of Contemporary Fiction are visiting individually to study the first draft of The Power, winner of the 2017 Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction.

Patricia Crampton Archive

Patricia Crampton (1)

Miffy stories by Dick Bruna; translated by Patricia Crampton

This gifted archive from a literary translator of mainly children’s books arrived on 10 April. Re-boxing and an initial sort of the papers has begun.

Zuckerman Archive

• A survivor of the Hull blitz has been re-united with the essay she wrote as a 10 year old as part of a government psychological survey on the effects of bombing.
• Another recipient of an essay has written back ‘Not only is it personally very moving but it also offers a fascinating insight into a key period of our history.’
More on the 2,000 Hull school essays.

Special Collections

17 enquiries

Exploring the Archives: a monthly update: April 2017

A quieter month in terms of footfall in the Archives as our teaching sessions ended for the semester and most students headed off for the Easter break.

British Archive for Contemporary Writing (general)
Dr Jos Smith has been appointed as Academic Director of BACW. From 1 Sep 2017, he will gradually take over the role from Professor Chris Bigsby, who will step down in 2018.

Charlie Higson
006The listing of this collection is now available to read on-line.

‘Bollock Street’! This is the first title that we’ve been asked to retrieve from the stacks for a reader. A sketch on the Argyle Street squats which existed in Norwich in the 1980s, this unperformed piece was written by Higson and Paul Whitehouse.

Doris Lessing
One area of interest has been Lessing’s contribution to contemporary women’s literature.

Pritchard Papers
There’s been ongoing research and interest into the artists, designers and architects of the thirties, including Maxwell Fry, Marcel Breuer, Henry Moore, Ben Nicholson, John Piper and Sir Nikolaus Pevsner.

Roger Deakin
UEA and the Writers’ Centre Norwich held a celebratory symposium on 30 April to mark Deakin’s life and his contribution to conservation and nature writing. Around 80 attended the event; an afternoon of poetry, wild writing, memoirs and personal recollections. Symposium programme.

A small exhibition showing the writing process of Waterlog and Wildwood was included at the event at Dragon Hall and this has now moved to the UEA Library Foyer.
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UEA Collection
Staff and alumni have been looking at early prospectuses, congregation DVDs, and ways to further the gig archive.

Special Collections
12 enquiries.

Mark Cocker Archive launch at UEA


We are delighted to announce the launch of the Mark Cocker Archive as part of nature writing collections within the British Archive for Contemporary Writing. The archive joins material from celebrated nature writer, and pioneer of the wild swimming movement, Roger Deakin. Richard Mabey, who has written and broadcasted widely on the connection between nature and culture, has also committed to depositing his archive at UEA.

Press release (dated 20 July 2016): https://www.uea.ac.uk/about/media-room/latest-news

Mark Cocker Archive: www.uea.ac.uk/bacw/nature-writing

Visitors can email archives@uea.ac.uk to arrange an appointment to view the archive. Opening hours are 9.30-12:30 and 13:30 to 16:30 Monday to Friday.

Mark Cocker, who graduated from UEA in 1982, is an internationally acclaimed and award-winning author, naturalist and environmental activist who writes and broadcasts on nature and wildlife in a variety of national media. His 10 books include works of biography, history, literary criticism and memoir.

His archive contains notebooks, correspondence, draft manuscripts and typescripts, providing fascinating insights into Cocker’s working methodsProf Christopher Bigsby, academic director of the BACW, described him as ‘undoubtedly one of our leading nature writers’.

Mark Cocker on depositing his archive at UEA: ‘The idea that the ‘stuff’ which inevitably accumulates around a writer, like bat guano on a cave floor, could be interesting or valuable to anyone else seems a rather amusing and very conceited notion to any author. Slowly, however it starts to seem less outlandish and more constructive. What exactly were you going to do with those bags of notes, those files of correspondence, those cassette-recorded interviews that you now lack the technology even to access? What was the point of keeping old journalism of three decades ago that voices opinions you no longer hold? Gradually I’ve come to appreciate how the UEA Archive is the answer to a host of unresolved questions. It is the light-filled junction at the end of many overgrown or disused paths. And having started some of those journeys while I was actually an English undergraduate at UEA, it has become all the more meaningful. So thank you, all at the archive team, and especially for helping to clear away a little of the chaos in my own private cave.’

Read the full announcement here: https://www.uea.ac.uk/about/media-room/latest-news

More about the Mark Cocker Archive: www.uea.ac.uk/bacw/nature-writing

Mark Cocker Website: www.markcocker.com