Literary Magdalene

 Eliot Empire Scribbing Pad wm T S Eliot, Empire Scribbling Pad, containing the original notes for ‘Little Gidding’.


AS WELL AS HAVING A LONG HISTORY of supporting major academic and scholarly writing in the arts, sciences and social sciences, Magdalene College Cambridge is extremely fortunate in having an impressive and continuing tradition of creative composition, through the work of our Fellows, Honorary Fellows and members of the College.

WE ARE DELIGHTED TO ANNOUNCE a series of blog posts that will explore the work of some of the literary giants who are closely associated with Magdalene College.  The main focus will be on the evidence from the College’s own collection of literary manuscripts, printed books, letters, diaries and first editions.

THE COLLECTION IS A TREASURE TROVE, from A C Benson’s diary (4 million words, locked up for 50 years after Benson’s death for fear of offending the living) to personal notes between literary friends (as in Dorothea Richards’s scrawl on a fragment of torn paper: “whoever gets in first, put the milk in the fridge” with the signed addendum …”Done, TSE”).   Through the holdings of our historic libraries, we can trace friendships and connections, occasional enmities and confusions, and often the very processes of correcting, editing and excising material from a draft to a published piece that reveal so much about how writers write.

Photograph of Niccoli, Empson and Richards wm

Raffaello Piccoli, William Empson, I A Richards in Magdalene (1920s).

THE SERIES WILL INCLUDE POSTS by the Pepys Librarian Dr M E J Hughes on such stellar figures such as William Empson, T S Eliot, Seamus Heaney and our current Honorary Fellow in the Arts, Dame Carol Ann Duffy.  And among others, there will be guest blogs by Dr Rowan Williams on Vernon Watkins, Professor Helen Cooper on C S Lewis, and Dr Heather Brink-Roby on the thrilling experience of handling an original  manuscript by Thomas Hardy on whom she has recently completed a PhD.  Dan Richards will write on the famous mountaineer Dorothy Pilley/Richards, the subject of his latest book, Climbing Days.

And there will be some surprises and discoveries.

The series follows on from our exhibition last term ‘Literary Magdalene’.

I A Richards poetry Friends of the Pepys wm

An introduction to I A Richards’s poetry for the
Friends of the Pepys and Historic Libraries during the ‘Literary Magdalene’ exhibition


by Dr M.E.J. Hughes

Pepys Librarian and Keeper of the Old Library

Director of Studies in English, Magdalene College

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