Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Rare Beckett manuscript snapped up by Reading University

Nick Gutteridge ? Published 15 Jul 2013 08:00 Print Comments 0 Comments

A MILLION pound manuscript of one of the rarest literary masterpieces in the world has been snapped up by Reading University.

The university bought the original manuscript of Samuel Beckett's first major work, Murphy, for 962,500 at an auction at Sotheby's in London on Wednesday.

At nearly 800 pages long, the 20th century treasure cost 1,200 per page, and the university will fund the purchase from the proceeds of a 40m fire sale of its art collections.

The hand-written paper, which has been in private hands for the last 50 years, will now be available to scholars across the globe as part of the university's Beckett Collection - the largest archive of the author's work anywhere in the world.

Dr Mark Nixon, director of the Beckett International Foundation, said: "The university is in many ways the centre of Beckett studies worldwide. This major acquisition for the Beckett Collection will open up access to this unique manuscript to Beckett scholars and the interested public the world over."

The novel was rejected 40 times by publishers before Routledge eventually printed it in 1938. Reviews were lukewarm at the time, but the Irish playwright went on to become one of the most influential writers of the 20th Century.

Vice chancellor Sir David Bell said: "The acquisition of Murphy will provide unparalleled opportunities to learn more about one of the greatest writers in living memory, if not all time.

"In difficult economic circumstances, such purchases have to be considered very carefully. As the university's research on Beckett is one of our greatest strengths, we believed that it made eminent sense for us to pursue such a significant acquisition."

This article appeared in Reading Chronicle 12 Jul 13

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Source: http://www.readingchronicle.co.uk/news/roundup/articles/2013/07/15/91218-rare-beckett-manuscript-snapped-up-by-reading-university/

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