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Working with Literary Archives

Helen Price portrait
Helen Price introduces her research.
Gawain first section drafts from BC/MS20c/Armitage/2/9
Simon Armitage: Sir Gawain and the Green Knight
Geoffrey Hill Mercian Hymns notebook cover
Geoffrey Hill: Mercian Hymns
Literary drafts
Working with literary archives

The Armitage and Hill archives gave me two very different insights into writers' uses and interpretations of medieval literature and culture. Draft material helps to illuminate the extent to which the process of translation is very much a creative process. The secondary sources and research material that a writer chooses to save alongside their own work-in-progress also provides insights into their learning processes.

This was the first time I had worked with archive material and I had to be cautious not to jump to conclusions when faced with what appeared to be such personal insights into the writers' creative processes. Examining each section of the archives always took longer than I anticipated because they provided such a rich wealth of information. The use of archive material formed a small part of my overall thesis when it was complete, but the insights I gained during the course of my research in Special Collections have led to subsequent research projects.


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