Writers’ Archives: the next generation

A writer’s archive reflects how they think, how they work, their innermost selves.  Not only in the content of the archive, but in what is kept, and how it is organised (or not).  Jacquetta Hawkes kept her papers all her life: her nature notebooks, important correspondence, manuscripts and typescripts … they now form her wonderful archive in Special Collections.  She died in 1996, just before wordprocessing, email, the web and other IT developments became part of writers’ everyday lives.

These innovations have changed how writers work, and the archives they create.  What would a modern Jacquetta’s archive be like?  How can archivists work with such a writer to preserve the evidence of their creative process, given that there will be no bulk of paper to deal with, just inaccessible files …

In Tales from the Digital Archive, to be broadcast on BBC Radio 4 on Tuesday 26 April, Christine Finn (Jacquetta’s biographer) reflects on these issues with input from Emory University (Salman Rushdie Archive), the British Library (Ted Hughes Archive), and Fay Weldon.


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