Lockdown snippets

While our physical Archives remain closed and archive staff continue to work from home, we’ll be highlighting connections and parallels between our current situation, be they personal or national, and the past. We’ll bring to light snippets from across our collections which may resonate now and inspire a visit later.

Lockdown Snippet #01: ‘One Little Room an Everywhere’

A paper entitled ‘One Little Room an Everywhere’ is referenced in our guide to Roger Deakin’s papers [RD/TRA/2]. The actual document requires further examination and we’ll dip into this when the collections are open however we do know that this line also appears in John Donne’s poem ‘The Good-Morrow’.

Roger Deakin (wild swimmer, writer and naturalist) enjoyed company as much as solitude. Although he lived in a large farm house with a number of rooms and enjoyed a wide circle of friends, he periodically took himself out into his shepherd’s hut or railway carriage to connect more closely with nature, and to write. These solitary sleep-outs enabled a heightened sense of awareness and a deep connection with his surroundings. It was here that he wrote down his daily thoughts which later formed the basis for ‘Notes from Walnut Tree Farm.’


Reproduced with permission from the Roger Deakin Estate

Sat 10th August [2002]. “I’m lying in the shepherd’s hut on a wooden bed under a wooden boarded roof like a pine tent, and horizontal pine panelled walls. Each time a nail has pierced the wood it has bled a nasty stain, creeping along the grain, blurred, as though the wood on the wagon itself were travelling at speed. A woodpecker shrieks across the field. A wasp worries the window-pane, then zig-zags above the bed.


Reproduced with permission from the Roger Deakin Estate

The open door frames a wall of green: the hawthorn hedge, ash, nettles, graceful flowers of grass. All sway on the hot breeze. Dust-mites flicker and drift in the window-light. In the far corner of the hut, a stainless-steel stove-pipe and a tiny tortoise stove. In the other corner, a pine corner-cupboard, built by me as part of the hut, filled with whiskey for the cold winter nights. Cows lowing in the distance across the common”.

Learn more about the Roger Deakin Archive

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: 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.

Exploring the Archives: a monthly update: June 2017

In June, Archives staff settled into the Silent Reading Room just along the corridor and we expect to be here for several weeks. Refurbishment work continues on Floor 02 and the builders have gone to great lengths in safeguarding our equipment and the collections, even installing temporary walls and doors.

Further details on the temporary closure of Archives.


  • UEA students have been consulting Tash Aw’s Archive and Doris Lessing’s correspondence.
  • 10 PhD students of creative writing, literature, history, languages and linguistics attended our joint British Archive for Contemporary Writing and East Anglian Film Archives workshop at the CHASE Encounters Conference  held at UEA on 29 and 30 June.The workshop highlighted the opportunities and challenges of using film and literary Archive material for research and teaching, as well as the day to day role of the Archivist and the future challenge for archives in managing born digital material.

    Students were provided with hands on access to copies of unique archive material to help simulate the process of independent archive research. This provoked some interesting discussion, particularly amongst creative writers who were prompted to consider their own archive material.

Kenney Papers (Suffragettes)
• We are preparing materials for an external exhibition to be held in 2018/19.
• The collection is being used by a writer as the basis for her work of fiction.

Pritchard Papers
One user is researching for a book on Lawn Road Flats and artists of the 1930s; another is writing a book on art, design and science.

Other enquiries related to the Pritchard family tree; and to Walter Gropius’ farewell dinner guest list from 1937.

Roger Deakin


The shepherd’s hut to which Deakin refers in The Garden. Copyright Estate of Roger Deakin

Users are reminded that the BBC recording of Cigarette on the Waveney is publicly available online (a tranquil documentary of Deakin’s trip down the River Waveney in a white canoe). For UEA members, his recordings of The House and The Garden are available on Box of Broadcasts.

UEA Collection
Malcolm Bradbury’s large magazine and newspaper archive has been accessed by a visiting academic in LDC (School of Literature, Drama and Creative Writing).

Zuckerman Archive
The collection has been accessed for the correspondence of Lord Zuckerman, Lord Mountbatten and Margaret Thatcher; and for architectural drawings of German and Italian buildings held within WWII bombing reports.

Special Collections
RauschenbergA valuable addition to the collection has been a limited facsimile edition of Robert Rauschenberg‘s 34 illustrations after Dante’s Inferno. Produced by New York’s Museum of Modern Art and presented in a grey clothbound clamshell box, it includes the trade publication. Rauschenberg’s series of drawings from 1958–60 are each reproduced at actual size on individual sheets; a drawing for each Canto of Dante’s poem. A copy of the trade publication is on order for the Library’s open shelves.

There were 12 enquiries for Special Collections.

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.

International Archives Day, 9 June 2015

The garment now neatly assigned to a file marked

The swimming trunks of Roger Deakin © University of East Anglia

Archives around the world are today celebrating International Archives Day. Organised by the International Council on Archives (ICA), the day unites archivists in celebrating the significance and achievements of the profession.

While documents are the main business, very occasionally an object merits inclusion alongside the papers. For a light-hearted touch on this day of celebration we have pulled out the trunks of wild swimmer and writer Roger Deakin.

Deakin swimming at Treyarnon, Cornwall. © Estate of Roger Deakin

Deakin and dog swimming at Treyarnon, Cornwall. © Estate of Roger Deakin

Having watched Burt Lancaster in the film The Swimmer, Deakin decided to go on his own watery journey of discovery through many of Britain’s rivers, lakes, canals, and natural pools. The result was Waterlog: a swimmer’s journey through Britain (1999).

When the weather starts warming up this might be just the push we need to jump in.

The Roger Deakin Archive holds manuscripts, notebooks and research papers for Waterlog (1999), Wildwood: a journey through trees (2007) and Notes from Walnut Tree Farm (2008).

The Archive picture gallery: #1 Shepherd’s hut in winter

Shepherd's hut in winter

Shepherd’s hut in winter. Copyright Roger Deakin Estate

Roger Deakin’s shepherd’s hut sits strikingly in a field of snow at Walnut Tree Farm. In winter Deakin was more likely to choose to sleep in the small bedroom above the warm farmhouse kitchen but ultimately he would ‘crave the mild adventure’ of sleeping outside. This meant that on spring, summer and autumn nights this nature writer and lover of the outdoors could leave the farmhouse and his cares at the end of a working day, enter a relatively simple world with only candles and a slow but sure ‘Tortoise’ stove for heat, and settle down to the sounds and smells of nature in his shepherd’s hut or railway wagon.

Extract from Notes from Walnut Tree Farm (published posthumously in 2008):

A crow was flying in big circles about the field, climbing steeply now and then, then gliding down, as if for pure pleasure. I dozed back to sleep but was awoken by a most terrific rumbling and shaking of the whole hut, and a scratching sound. I thought a cat must somehow have leapt in through an open window and on to my bed. But I think it was the roe-deer, the one with the faun, rubbing against the hut, as I heard what sounded like hooves disappearing through the long grass. The birdsong was now far too raucous for sleep, so I adjourned to the house over dewy grass for breakfast, and to wrap a leaving present for Frank Gooderham, my lovely postman.

In his book Landmarks, published earlier this year, fellow nature writer and friend Robert MacFarlane explores Deakin’s landscapes and sense of place as part of a wider meditation on the power of language, the relationship between words and nature and our understanding of our environment.

A life lived as variously as Roger’s, and evoked in writing as powerful as his, means that even after his death his influence continues to flow outwards. Green Man-like, he appears in unexpected places, speaking in leaves.

The Roger Deakin Archive includes manuscripts and research papers for Waterlog and Wildwood, over 130 notebooks and diaries, papers of Friends of the Earth and Common Ground, papers of the Aldeburgh Festival from the 1980s, papers relating to rural Suffolk and a pair of Speedo trunks.