Archive Material and Collection-based Research
A particular emphasis which unites researchers in the Department of English Literature is our interest in empirical research derived from archival work. Our unique holdings, including the Samuel Beckett archive, authors' papers and extensive materials relating to the history of publishing (Archive of British Publishing and Printing, the newly-acquired W.H. Smith archives, the Sutton databases, Location Register of Twentieth-Century Manuscripts, WATCH) enable exciting collection-based research at all levels.
The Publishing Archive has been designated an 'Outstanding Collection' by the Museums, Library and Archives Council; the Beckett Archive has received Designated Status from the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council as a "pre-eminent collection of national and international significance".
The University Library offers a number of special collections relevant to English studies:
17th and 18th Century Collections
There is a significant number of seventeenth- and eighteenth-century books, some in special collections such as the Overstone Library and Henley Parish Library. The Thomason tracts are available on microfilm.
19th and 20th Century Collections
The archive called 'Records of British Publishing and Printing' contains mainly nineteenth- and twentieth-century documents from more than twenty literary and general publishers, including such celebrated houses as Elkin Mathews, Jonathan Cape and the Hogarth Press, and authors of all kinds, notably Charles Dickens, Ezra Pound, Hilaire Belloc, Patrick White, J. G. Ballard and Angela Carter.
The library is generally strong in literature of the 1890s and in Anglo-Irish literature, especially in connection with W. B. Yeats.
The Beckett International Foundation is the largest collection of books and manuscripts by and about Beckett in the world. There are two collections of Children's Literature, one covering the period from the early seventeenth century to 1939, the other an outstanding collection of books from 1950 to the present day, and there is also an archive of tapes of interviews with contemporary children's writers.
The archive entitled 'Records of Contemporary Writing' contains documents about many writers from the 1890s to the present day, some less familiar, some well-known, including for example manuscript material concerning Aubrey Beardsley.
Magazines and Journals
There are some notable early runs of late nineteenth- and twentieth- century magazines and journals.
The Finzi Book Room
The Finzi Book Room houses the literature collection of the English composer Gerald Finzi (1901-1956). It was deposited in the University Library by his family in 1974. The collection was a lifelong activity for Finzi, parallel with his composition, and there are significant holdings in choral works and settings of poetry. The library also holds the collection of the Shelley scholar G.M. (Geoffrey) Matthews (1920-1984), comprising some 1,000 items concerning the life and works of Percy Bysshe Shelley.
Other Major Libraries
Major libraries in London and Oxford are within easy reach. Research students have access to the full range of University IT facilities, including subscriptions to a wide range on online resources, such as the OED.
The BBC's Written Archive Centre is based at Caversham in Reading. It holds all the papers relating to the first forty years of the BBC's existence and a large selection of later materials.