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01st October 2008

Alan Bennett donates his archive to the Bodleian

Alan Bennett (History, 1954) has presented his papers as a gift to the Bodleian Library. The archive includes original manuscripts, typescripts, handwritten notes and drafts for all Bennett’s stage and television plays, plus the manuscripts of his novellas and short-stories, including his latest bookg The Uncommon Reader (2007). In due course, the Bodleian will also receive Bennett’s annotated editions of his published writings, together with letters and other materials arising from his own marginal notes and afterthoughts. There are also diaries in an unbroken series from 1974 onwards, only a small selection of which have so far been published.

Alan Bennett said of his gift: “I think its appropriate too that my stuff should be here in Oxford. My writing is nothing if not English and however universal and unboundaried scholarship may be these days I wouldn’t want to be lodged in some mid-western university. At the Bodleian I shall be rubbing shoulders with Thomas Hardy and Philip Larkin. They might not be all that pleased but I am.”

Dr Sarah Thomas, Bodley’s Librarian, commented: ‘Alan Bennett has shown extraordinary generosity in presenting his archive to the Bodleian. He is one of the world’s greatest living writers, and the Bodleian is honoured to become the home of the Bennett Papers and preserve them for generations of scholars to come. The archive is one of the most important acquisitions for the Library in recent times, and will be a major resource for researchers.’

A special reception was held at the Bodleian to celebrate the gift, and Alan Bennett was presented with the Bodleian medal. These medals are a limited edition of replicas of an original medal engraved in 1646 to honour Sir Thomas Bodley, and are cast from copper from the original roof of the Duke Humfrey library (renovated at the millennium).

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