Press Releases

Research locates and lists literary manuscripts – University of Reading

Release Date : 22 October 2004

Girl in main libraryThe Location Register team in the University Library has now completed work on a project funded by the Laser Foundation, surveying the holdings of modern literary manuscripts in British public libraries. During this recent survey, the Location Register team discovered one particularly important collection: the papers of Leslie Thomas (best known for The Virgin Soldiers, but a wide-ranging author) in Southampton City Archives Service. The Location Register project has been based in the University of Reading Library for 22 years, making it one of the oldest independent research projects in the field of English literature. Its aim is to locate and list literary manuscripts which are available for public consultation anywhere in the British Isles. The largest group of papers have been found to be in the public libraries of Edinburgh, Glasgow, Birmingham, Manchester and Liverpool, but smaller collections of note have been found in public libraries as varied as those of Hull, Bath, Battersea, Gloucester and Newport, and from Orkney Library to the Cornish Studies Library in Redruth. During its 22 years, the team have uncovered some striking collections in some surprise locations, including the papers of Three Men in a Boat author Jerome K Jerome in Walsall Central Library, and the papers of World War I poet and composer Ivor Gurney in Gloucester's public library. The Laser Foundation is a trust founded in 2001, with its purpose being "to improve library facilities available to the public". A Laser Foundation grant of £7,600 enabled the Location Register team to re-survey the holdings of those public libraries which had previously reported having literary papers amongst their collections. Dr David Sutton, Director of Research Projects at the University Library, said: "Although in quantitative terms most of the 'distributed national archive' of literary manuscripts is to be found in national and university libraries, one of the Location Register's greatest strengths is that it also reveals delightful collections of modern literary papers in less expected locations, including many public libraries and local museums." The Location Register has received many awards since its inception, notably from the committees for the Besterman Medal (Highly Commended, 1988) and the McColvin Medal (1995). In 2002 its director, Dr David Sutton was awarded the Benson Medal for outstanding services to literature by the Royal Society of Literature, and in February 2004 the British Academy awarded the project the status of Academy Research Project. The Location Register can now be consulted online at End For media enquiries, please contact Craig Hillsley, the University of Reading's press officer. Tel: 0118 378 7388 Email:


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