Digital Attraction : from the real to the virtual in manuscript studies

Peter Ainsworth


In a BBC Radio 4 programme broadcast on 26 April 2011 (Tales from the Digital Archive), archaeologist Christine Finn explored some of the ways in which the digital revolution has changed writers’ working methods, and the consequential impact that these have had on librarians, curators and conservators. Wendy Cope recently donated an archive of 40,000 emails to the British Library, providing scholars with invaluable material for research on drafts of her poems as they developed. Fay Weldon found herself changing quite easily from pen and paper to computer and mouse, discovering in the process that it changed how she actually wrote her novels. Altering phrases or drafts became much easier, and much cheaper too. Weldon’s archive is destined for the University of Indiana. Salman Rushdie’s archive went to Emory University in 2006, becoming available to researchers in 2010; it includes 15 years of electronic material from his computer. The British Library has a Curator of Digital Manuscripts, Jeremy John, whose strongroom contains IBM and Macintosh computers, floppies, CDs and other ephemera such as post-it slips (stored in archive boxes alongside the machines they were attached to).


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ISSN 1749-9771

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