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.