Jacquetta and J.B. Priestley make many appearances in a new biography of their friend, Margaret Storm Jameson. Born in Whitby, Jameson (1891-1986) was an essayist, novelist, and campaigner for peace and social justice.
Life in the Writings of Storm Jameson, by Elizabeth Maslen, (Northwestern University Press) is based on research in many archives, including ours. Links with the Priestleys, and with our other collections, can be seen throughout the book: for instance Jameson joined J.B. Priestley’s 1941 Committee and championed writers as he did through PEN. The quotation above comes from a letter to Jacquetta, who persuaded her to join the CND Women’s Committee (Jameson agreed with the cause, but was cautious because she felt she might be of little use and had so many other calls on her time – earning money for her family etc.).
Maslen’s biography will prove an invaluable and impeccably researched resource for a fascinating writer and her literary and campaigning contemporaries.
Jacquetta Hawkes was born on 5 August 1910 in Cambridge 101 years ago today.
Birthday Cake from Will Clayton’s photostream
Her centenary year has seen many exciting developments as archaeologists, writers, scientists and artists discover or rediscover her work. The revised handlist (now online) will enable people to find out far more about her Archive at the University of Bradford, which captures her life, ideas, personality, style, friends and family in so much rich detail. We look forward to continuing to work with Jacquetta’s family, Dr Finn and many other interested people to spread the word about this extraordinary writer. We will be sharing many more stories from the Archive via this blog: there is so much more just waiting to be discovered.
Special Collections at Bradford University recently joined the Centre for Iris Murdoch Studies and many enthusiasts in celebrating Iris Murdoch Day, her birthday 15 July, with a social media festival. Our contribution was this piece published on the Special Collections blog, Roses and Dogs’ Noses: Iris and the Priestleys, which details Iris Murdoch’s friendship with Jacquetta and J.B. Priestley using letters and photographs from the Priestley and Hawkes Archives.
The day was great fun and we learned a lot about Iris and her writings. We’re considering doing something similar for Priestley this September and Jacquetta next year …
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.
Iris and JBP at Kissing Tree House ca. 1969
Iris Murdoch is in the news this week: a collection of her letters to surrealist novelist Raymond Queneau has been acquired by Kingston University’s Centre for Iris Murdoch Studies.
This story encouraged me to look again at the Iris Murdoch material in the Hawkes Archive. Iris knew the Priestleys well for many years. JB adapted her novel A Severed Head into a play, with great success. Like Jacquetta, she was active in the CND Women’s Group. Her introduction to Diana Collins’ memoir Time and the Priestleys offers a charming picture of the Priestleys as hospitable and life-enhancing friends.
The Hawkes Archive includes several letters and postcards from Iris to Jacquetta. Although the subject matter is mainly social (relating to lunches, parties), all but the very shortest give a flavour of her writing style and personality. I particularly liked her description of a weekend spent with the Priestleys: “I loved talking, and listening, and looking out of the window, and swimming, and drinking, and seeing the nightjars” and the quirky “I am now in a house of riotous children on the edge of the moor. We walked on the moor last night which is very old and obviously still inhabited by abominable stone men”.