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New Samuel Beckett research centre to inspire new works – University of Reading

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New Samuel Beckett research centre to inspire new works

Release Date 12 May 2017

Dr Mark Nixon (R) shows James Kelman (L) around the Beckett Archive

Public events, new creative works, and funded fellowships around the work of Samuel Beckett will all be products of a new research centre dedicated to the Irish novelist, story writer, and playwright.

The Beckett Research Centre brings together academics at the University of Reading to promote world-leading research, teaching and creative projects based around the University’s internationally-recognised Beckett Archive.

The launch of the Centre was marked on 3 May by a lecture by Scottish writer James Kelman, who told an invited audience of his fascination with Beckett, and the effect he had on his own work. He also hailed the University’s Beckett Archive as a world class resource.

Professor Steven Matthews, Director of the Beckett Research Centre, said: “We are committed, as lovers of Beckett’s work, to finding new ways to advocate his legacy and creating new possibilities for inspiration.

“Beckett’s legacy endures as new writers and scholars come to work at the University of Reading, and the Beckett Research Centre will ensure not only that existing works are celebrated and studied but that brand new works can be created in homage to the great man.”

Funding for new creative work

The Beckett Centre will host collaborative writing, discussion and debate led by specialists from the departments of English Literature, Film, Theatre and Television, Modern Languages & European Studies and Philosophy.

Funding will be provided for fellowships and scholarships with the aim of producing new creative work inspired by Beckett, such as radio and television plays, novels and short stories.

An annual programme of public events will be held around a theme in current affairs that links to Beckett’s work. The inaugural research themes for 2017-19 are Beckett and the Environment, and Beckett and Europe.

Previous projects have examined Beckett’s role in shaping modern theatre practice across the globe, and creating a digital archive of his manuscripts to allow fast searches and better preservation of the original documents.

"It’s such a wonderful thing that such an important and unique archive is located here at the University of Reading" - James Kelman, award-winning writer and keynote speaker at Beckett Research Centre launch

The Beckett Archive, held in the University of Reading’s Special Collections, is the largest collection of publicly accessible Beckett materials, including essays and manuscripts, in the world. One of the latest acquisitions is the original Murphy manuscript, comprising six notebooks relating to Beckett’s first published novel.

Mr Kelman said: “Beckett was a good man, a great artist and a major literary figure of the 20th century. It’s such a wonderful thing that such an important and unique archive is located here at the University of Reading, and fantastic that students have access to it on their doorstep.”


The Beckett Centre will work closely with the existing Beckett International Foundation, established at the University of Reading in 1988. The charitable trust is holding its 2017 Research Seminar on Saturday May 20, from 10am-4pm, at the London Road campus on Redland Road. For more details, visit the Beckett Research Centre website.

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