Reading Beckett Week 2014

Wednesday 1st October to Saturday 4th October 2014

An exhibition and series of events to showcase Reading University’s internationally renowned collection of manuscripts from the Nobel Prize-winning writer Samuel Beckett (1906-1989). The exhibition will display the recently acquired notebooks for Beckett’s novel Murphy alongside a wide range of fascinating supporting material. There will also be a public lecture by Professor Dan Gunn, editor of the multi-volume Letters of Samuel Beckett, a free two-hour workshop introducing the University’s Beckett archive and a day-long advanced seminar on Beckett’s work. All events are open to the public.

Exhibition: Samuel Beckett in London – The Murphy Notebooks

Wednesday 1st October to Saturday 4th October.

Museum of English Rural Life, Redlands Road, Reading. Free.

Opening Reception 5-7pm on Wednesday 1 October. All welcome.

Although we often associate Samuel Beckett with Paris or Dublin, the time he spent in London as a young man was decisive in his emergence as a major writer. Away from familiar networks of friends he was forced, as never before, back on his own resources, walking for miles through the city or spending long hours in galleries and the British Library. Eventually he poured all his reading, looking and thinking into his first great novel Murphy. This exhibition of manuscripts, drawings, notebooks and other items from Samuel Beckett’s stay in London between 1934 and 1935 includes material previously unseen by the public.

Manuscript Workshop : Introducing the Archive

Thursday 2nd October 2-4pm

Museum of English Rural Life, Redlands Road, Reading. Free. Booking essential.

In this two-hour workshop, we will investigate how studying Beckett’s drafts and manuscripts, his personal correspondence, and his reading notes on literature, philosophy, psychology and the visual arts can help enrich our understanding of one of the most important writers of the twentieth-century. Using the composition of Beckett’s first published novel Murphy (1938) as a case study, participants will be given access to a wide range of unpublished materials including the short story ‘Lightning Calculation’ (1934), the ‘Whoroscope’ notebook (1932-39), and the six Murphy notebooks (1935-36).

Public Lecture: Professor Dan Gunn (American University of Paris) – ‘Samuel Beckett Through his Letters 1957-1965

Friday 3rd October at 5.30pm, followed by a reception.

Minghella Building, Whiteknights Campus, University of Reading. Free. Booking essential.

Professor Gunn will read from and discuss the third volume of The Letters of Samuel Beckett, of which he is an editor. The letters in this volume were written between 1957 and 1965, an era that sees Beckett more and more involved in theatre and production of his own plays, even while he is determined to return to writing prose. Through his work with BBC radio, Beckett meets Barbara Bray, who becomes his chief correspondent for this era, and with whom he shares his work in progress with an uncharacteristic openness. Pulled between his ever-increasing public success and his need for the privacy required by writing, Beckett writes letters that are marvellously expressive of his ambivalent attitude towards his own work and the fame it has brought him.

The Beckett International Foundation Research Seminar 2014

Saturday 4th October from 10am

Museum of English Rural Life, Redlands Road, Reading. £20 waged, £15 unwaged. Includes lunch and refreshments. Booking essential.

Speakers: John Pilling and Andrew Nash, Helen Bailey, Judith Wilkinson and Anthony Paraskeva.

Further details for the BIF annual seminar will be sent out shortly.

For booking please contact:

Conor Carville on to book for the workshop and/or lecture.

Mark Nixon on

We hope to see you in Reading for these events!

the Beckett at Reading team