Samuel Beckett Archive marks 50 years at Reading
01 November 2022
The world’s leading archive of Samuel Beckett’s work will be celebrated by writers, actors, academics, and other enthusiasts in a special anniversary event at the University of Reading.
The celebration will mark 50 years since the University started collecting the archive of the revered Irish novelist, poet and playwright.
Since then, the University’s collection of Beckett-related items has since grown to become the largest in the world and is officially designated by Arts Council England as an Outstanding Collection.
A packed weekend of literary events at the University is taking place on November 4 and 5, 2022 – delayed from 2021 due to the global pandemic.
The event, Beckett at Reading - 50th anniversary, will feature talks from University of Reading experts and guest speakers, the premiere of a new Beckett Creative Fellowship play and a Q&A with its author, discussions about how Beckett’s work continues to be vital today, and much more.
Professor Steven Matthews, Professor in English Literature at the University of Reading, said: “This event brings together a hugely significant group of speakers, practitioners, writers and international figures important to the world of Samuel Beckett and his works.
“We are looking forward to seeing the premiere of playwright Hannah Khalil's new work written in response to Beckett as part of her Creative Fellowship with us.
“This will also be a wonderful opportunity to hear more from Beckett’s biographer Jim Knowlson about taped audio materials relating to his interviews and discussions with Beckett himself.”
Manuscripts, notebooks and papers related to Beckett started to arrive at the University from 1971 after then Reading lecturer and now Emeritus Professor James Knowlson contacted a friend about his idea to put on an exhibition dedicated to the 1969 Nobel Prize for Literature winner.
Professor Knowlson eventually made contact with Beckett himself and established a friendly rapport, leading to several manuscripts and other materials being lent to the University by Beckett and his friends. The University mounted its exhibition of Beckett’s work in the University Library, and it was opened by Beckett’s friend and fellow dramatist Harold Pinter.
Following the exhibition, the Beckett Collection continued to grow, thanks in part to permanent donations from Beckett himself.
The University thereafter established the Beckett International Foundation, which oversees the Beckett Collection. The University is also home to the Beckett Research Centre, which has in recent years funded a series of Creative Fellowships to support the creation of new artistic work in response to Beckett’s material.
Tickets for Beckett at Reading - 50th anniversary can be purchased via the link.
‘Let us do something, while we have the chance.’ The Origins of Reading’s Samuel Beckett Collection, University of Reading Library, University of Reading, 27 September 2022 - 13 January 2023:
‘A glimpse of the surface’: Samuel Beckett and Avigdor Arikha, The Museum of English Rural Life, University of Reading, 4 October 2022 - 27 January 2023: