Beckett Collection receives national recognition
Release Date 28 October 2005
The University of Reading's unique collection of manuscripts, papers, photographs and other materials relating to the legendary playwright Samuel Beckett has been recognised as having outstanding national and international importance, the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council (MLA) announced today. The Beckett Collection – which is the world's largest collection of resources connected to the writer of Waiting for Godot – is one of 38 collections in libraries and archives across England being recognised under the MLA Designation Scheme. Mark Wood, Chair of the MLA, which manages the Scheme, said: "It's not just national museums and libraries which hold our greatest treasures. Some of the nation's most important collections are in regional and independent museums, libraries and archives across the country. Under this important scheme, those collections are 'Designated' as being of outstanding national and international importance. One of them is right here in Reading." Rupert Wood, Head of Collections at the University Library, said: "Naturally, we are absolutely delighted that the Collection has been recognised in this way. It helps raise the profile of the Collection, so it will hopefully be enjoyed by many generations to come. "It's also particularly apt at this time – 2006 is the centenary of Beckett's birth and the Beckett International Foundation, which co-ordinates the Collection, will be holding a series of major events to celebrate the life and work of this literary genius." Among the many special events planned for next year, Oscar-winning film director Anthony Minghella will be hosting a gala evening celebrating Beckett's work at Reading Town Hall. There will also be a special exhibition of treasures from the Beckett Collection at the Museum of Reading. Further details of all the Beckett events to be held in 2006 can be found on the Foundation's new website: http://www.beckettfoundation.org.uk As well as the centenary celebrations, 2006 will also see the completion of the University's new Archives Store, which will house the Beckett Collection. The new Archives Store will ensure that the University's Collections are kept in improved environmental conditions, with improved security and research facilities. End Notes for editors Samuel Beckett (1906-1989), a native of Dublin, stands as one of the towering dramatists and writers of the twentieth century. His 1969 Nobel Prize citation praised him for 'a body of work that in new forms of fiction and the theatre has transmuted the destitution of modern man into his exaltation'. Beckett is the figure who, perhaps more than any other writer or intellectual in mid-century Europe, articulated the crisis of civilization of the post-War era. The Beckett Collection at the University of Reading is the world's largest collection of Beckett resources. Its contents include manuscripts, around 600 private letters, over 1000 texts by Beckett and a similar number of critical works, over 500 offprints and photocopied articles on Beckett, around 170 periodical titles and over 40 dissertations. As well as materials documenting over 700 dramatic productions, there are works of art, over 3000 news cuttings relating to Beckett, around 100 posters from Beckett productions, over 500 photographs, a number of audiovisual recordings, and a remarkable variety of Beckett ephemera. The Beckett Collection is the headquarters and primary resource of the Beckett International Foundation, a charitable trust set up in 1988 by the University's Professor James Knowlson, who was Beckett's friend and authorised biographer. The Foundation administers and co-ordinates the Collection, and is responsible for Beckett events held at the University. For more information, see: http://www.library.rdg.ac.uk/colls/special/beckett.html The MLA is the national development agency for museums, libraries and archives, advising the government on policy and priorities for the sector. MLA's roles are to provide strategic leadership, to act as a powerful advocate, to develop capacity and to promote innovation and change. The Designation Scheme aims to identify and celebrate the best museum, library and archive collections in England; those that are deemed to be of outstanding national and international importance. The Scheme recognises that organisations with Designated collections care for a significant part of England's cultural heritage. It was launched in 1997 for museums only, with two further rounds in 1998 and 1999, and extended to libraries and archives in 2005. The Scheme now covers over 100 collections held in museums, libraries and archives. It is managed by the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council. http://www.mla.gov.uk Media: For information about the MLA, please contact Gemma Crisp/Clare Waller at Kinross and Render PR. T: 0207 592 3100 E: firstname.lastname@example.org For a high-resolution digital image of Samuel Beckett, and any other media enquiries, please contact: Craig Hillsley, the University press officer. T: 0118 378 7388 E: email@example.com Dr Julian Garforth, Samuel Beckett Research Fellow T: 0118 378 8776 E: firstname.lastname@example.org The image of Samuel Beckett (above) is by John Haynes.