The British Library has bought Harold Pinter's archive, of over 150 boxes full of material, for £1.1 million. This collection includes correspondence between the Nobel Prize winning playwright and other leading figures in Post-War literature, such as Noel Coward, David Mamet, Philip Larkin and Samuel Beckett.
The collection has been on loan to the British Library since 1993, but this acquisition has ended speculation that Pinter's archive could follow David Hare and Tom Stoppard's to the University of Texas in Austin, which has been briskly purchasing collections form Post-War literary figures. Jamie Andrews, head of modern literary manuscripts at the British Library said, "There are issues around some archives going to American institutions and we have been working very hard to fly the flag and encourage British writers to leave their archives in this country."
The archive spands Pinter's lengthy career, from photos of his appearances in school productions of Shakespeare and the unpublished autobiography of his youth, The Queen of all the Faeries, through to a draft of the poem he read out on his collection of the Nobel Prize in 2005. The collection is in the process of being catalgoued by the British Library and should be accessible early in 2008. An exhibition of scripts, sound recordings and letters will go on display at the British Library from January 11th.
Carol Souet, the Director of the National Heritage Memorial Fund, who contributed over £200,000 to the archive's acquisition, said, "Harold Pinter is already an integral part of our dramatic and literary heritage. The National Heritage Memorial Fund grant is particularly special as it is the first time we have helped save works of a living artist. This unique collection is now safe for future generations to enjoy and learn from."