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University displays unpublished Beckett notebooks for the first time – University of Reading

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University displays unpublished Beckett notebooks for the first time

Release Date 24 March 2006

Samuell BeckettThe University of Reading is to display for the first time unique handwritten notebooks belonging to Samuel Beckett, one of the towering dramatists and writers of the twentieth century. The unpublished notebooks contain drafts of the playwright's ground-breaking works Endgame, Happy Days and Krapp's Last Tape and very early drafts of his first novel Murphy. This extraordinary material will be featured in Samuel Beckett: The Irish European, an exhibition held at the Museum of Reading from 25 March to mark the centenary of the birth of the 1969 Nobel prize-winner. The earliest notebook dates from Beckett's formative years during the 1930s and contains notes written in a variety of languages. The pages reveal sections of prose which Beckett eventually edited to become Murphy. During these years the writer tried to establish himself with little success and the journal also contains a list of publishers who turned down the Murphy manuscript. The collection of notes dating from the Summer of 1956 comprises first drafts of some of the playwright's best-known plays including Endgame, Happy Days and Krapp's Last Tape. The writings show the beginnings of well-known characters, such as Endgame's Nagg and Nell, and drafted material that was eventually excluded from the plays' final versions. Dr Julian Garforth, keeper of the Beckett Archive at the University of Reading and curator of the exhibition said, 'These notebooks are a fantastic addition to the exhibition. The early notebook was written at a time of struggle in Beckett's life when he was recovering from mental breakdown and was unsuccessful in publishing his work. His feelings of failure and discontent are reflected in these notes.' 'The 1956 notebook shows a writer's mind in full flow and is illustrated throughout with detailed doodles which Beckett presumably drew while drafting his prose.' The exhibition will also feature the only official recording of Beckett's voice in existence, which will be played in public for the first time in the exhibition. The recording is of Beckett reading from Lessness for the benefit of the producer of a BBC adaptation of the prose work first aired in 1971. For further details of The Beckett International Foundation and the Beckett Centenary exhibitions and events please go to http://www.beckettfoundation.org.uk. End Images and footage available on request For media enquiries please contact Eleanor Holmes, University of Reading press officer on: (Tel) 0118 378 6166 (Email) e.m.holmes@rdg.ac.uk Notes to Editors 1. In addition to the exhibition, the Beckett International Foundation, which co-ordinates the Collection, will be holding a series of major events to celebrate his life and work. Highlights include an exhibition of the photographer John Haynes' work at the University's Museum of English Rural Life; a gala evening hosted by Oscar-winning film director Anthony Minghella in aid of Macmillan Cancer Relief; the world premiere of Beckett's novella, 'First Love', directed by Beckett's own assistant director, Walter Asmus, and starring Lawrence Held. Reading Town Hall will welcome John Banville, the distinguished Irish novelist and 2005 Booker prize-winner, who will speak about Beckett's late prose works and reveal the reasons for his own great admiration for Beckett's writing. 2. The University of Reading is one of the foremost research-led universities in the UK. Founded in the nineteenth century and gaining a Royal Charter in 1926, we offer a wide range of programmes from the pure and applied sciences to languages, social sciences and fine art. New research and the latest thinking continually feed into undergraduate teaching, with our academic staff working at the forefront of their fields of expertise. For further information visit http://www.reading.ac.uk. 3. The Museum of Reading houses 12 interactive galleries - from Romans to Rodin, biscuit tins to beetles - there is something for everyone. Admission is free. The Museum is a two-minute walk from Reading railway station. For further information visit http://www.readingmuseum.org.uk. Museum of Reading, The Town Hall, Blagrave St, Reading, Berkshire RG1 1QH

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