7 September 2016 – Today the Linen Hall Library launched a phenomenal digital resource which makes available for the first time historic literary items by some of Northern Ireland’s most influential writers. The Northern Ireland Literary Archive, funded by the Department for Communities, includes manuscripts, drafts, letters, unpublished works and more from the personal collections of Sam Hanna Bell, John Boyd, Sir Samuel Ferguson, Robert Greacen, John Hewitt, Joan Lingard, Louis MacNeice, Stewart Parker, and W. R. Rodgers. The Archive is available for anyone to browse at: http://www.niliteraryarchive.com.
Special guests at the launch were Dr Eamonn Hughes, local academic and critic, who wrote content for the Archive; and multi award-winning writer David Park (The Big Snow, The Truth Commissioner, Gods and Angels).
Over the years, families, authors and estates have chosen the Linen Hall Library as the repository of archives, knowing the institution will provide secure and respectful storage. Of the dozens of collections available, nine were chosen for inclusion in the Northern Ireland Literary Archive. These nine represent a broad spectrum of artistic styles which have individually and collectively influenced the island’s literary personality.
The Archive begins in the late 19th century with the work of Samuel Ferguson featuring two of his poems, ‘Conary’ and ‘Deirdre’, and moves through the 20th century and into the 21st century with Joan Lingard, who continues to write. Amongst the many fascinating and insightful items are letters from Louis MacNeice to George and Mercy McCann, local benefactors and supporters of the Arts; Joan Lingard’s manuscript for the book Across the Barricades; Sam Hanna Bell’s original manuscript of his controversial novel December Bride, which was made into a film; and an unpublished work by Stewart Parker recounting his Belfast childhood.
Gavin Carville, Project Manager, says: “The Northern Ireland Literary Archive presents the original manuscripts of several key writers and gives an insight into the writing process. The items of a more personal nature, such as letters, allow an intimate glimpse into the lives behind the public facade. We are delighted to be able to make this significant collection available now to anyone at the click of the mouse.”
Pictures and interviews are available on request. Contact the Library on T: 028 9032 1707.
The Linen Hall Library, one of Belfast’s oldest charities, is open free to the public.
Our opening hours are: Monday – Friday 9.30am – 5.30pm, and Saturday 9.30am – 4.00pm.
Pictured above (l-r): David Park, Eamonn Hughes and Gavin Carville.