• Virginia Woolf’s manuscript draft of Mrs Dalloway and an early travel notebook in which she begins to explore her ‘stream of consciousness’ technique
• George Orwell’s notebook in which he lists ideas for what would become Nineteen Eighty-Four, including ‘newspeak’, ‘doublethink’ and ‘two minutes of hate’
• Ted Hughes’s manuscript drafts of Birthday Letters
• Sylvia Plath’s draft manuscripts of The Bell Jar and extracts from her diary
• Angela Carter’s manuscript drafts of Wise Children and The Bloody Chamber
• J G Ballard’s manuscript drafts of High-Rise, Crash and Empire of the Sun
• Hanif Kureishi’s manuscript drafts of My Beautiful Laundrette and The Buddha of Suburbia
• A letter from TS Eliot declining to publish George Orwell’s Animal Farm
• A poem in which James Joyce attacks contemporary Irish writers
• A letter from Bernard Shaw to Sylvia Beach in which he gives his opinion of Joyce’s Ulysses: ‘It is a revolting record of a disgusting phase of civilisation; but it is a truthful one’
• A review by Angela Carter of J G Ballard’s Empire of the Sun
The materials on Discovering Literature: 20th Century reveal the ways in which key writers of the 20th century rejected inherited traditions and experimented with new forms and themes. Through their notebooks and first drafts, we see their creative processes, innovation, self-doubt, rejection, rebellion and the risks they took on their journey to becoming the literary greats we know today.
Anna Lobbenberg, Digital Programmes Manager at the British Library, said:
“Until now these treasures could only be viewed in the British Library Reading Rooms or on display in exhibitions – now Discovering Literature: 20th Century will bring these items to anyone in the world with an internet connection.“
Silk Road Delivers Again
Written in a number of languages, including Aramaic, Hebrew, Persian, Judeo-Arabic, and Judeo Persian, these new documents are attributed to an 11th Century family headed by Abu Ben Daniel from the northern Afghan city of Bamyan. Wolfe first purchased twenty-nine of the documents in 2013, which he returned to Israel where they have been studied in the National Library.
NLA conservator Freya Merrell said pencil annotations by a boy called Thomas indicated the book might have been smuggled into Wales after Henry VIII dissolved the monasteries in 1536. Apparently the boy had written his name and the date as well as some ’squiggles’.
The books – a Ships Particular Book containing the details of 57 ships between 1973 and 1987, and Builder’s Certificate book containing 51 completed certificates between 1961 and 1974 – both have Tyne & Wear County Archives labels pasted inside. They will be auctioned as part of the Anderson & Garland Fine Art Sale in Newcastle on 14 and 15 June 2016. The two books together have an estimated value of £100-£200.
Anderson and Garland auctioneer Fred Wyrley-Birch said: “The books are really fascinating and we’re expecting a lot of interest from historians and people who are generally interested in ships, especially with the Tall Ships Race coming to Blyth later this summer.”
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