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UD Library exhibition highlights collection on Nobel Prize-winning author Samuel Beckett

2:27 p.m., Sept. 15, 2003--"Samuel Beckett: A Celebration," an exhibition honoring one of the preeminent authors of the 20th century, is on view through Dec. 19 in the Special Collections Exhibition Gallery of the Morris Library, University of Delaware Library.

The exhibition, which was jointly curated by Timothy Murray, head of Special Collections, and Laura Cochrane, assistant librarian in Special Collections, is part of a campuswide festival celebrating the acquisition of the Sir Joseph Gold Samuel Beckett Collection.

“Honoring the writer Samuel Beckett while celebrating the gift of Sir Joseph Gold of his magnificent Beckett collection to the University of Delaware Library provides the opportunity to recognize the research support the University of Delaware Library provides to scholars and students,” Susan Brynteson, May Morris Director of Libraries, said.

Samuel Beckett (1906-1989) won the Nobel Prize in literature in 1969. Born in the Dublin suburb of Foxrock in 1906 and educated at Trinity College, he emerged as a writer of note in Paris in the 1930s. Beckett met James Joyce during this period, and Joyce became his greatest influence. During the 1930s and 1940s, Beckett primarily wrote fiction which was published to a small, but appreciative audience. In 1953, his play “Waiting for Godot” opened to acclaim in Paris. Subsequent productions in London and New York brought Beckett international recognition and secured his reputation as a writer of significance. More than a decade after his death, he remains one of the 20h century's most acclaimed and influential avant-garde writers.

See related article:
Beckett Festival to feature playwright’s foremost interpreters
The Sir Joseph Gold Samuel Beckett Collection, which contains more than 3,000 items, was donated by the late book collector and legal scholar Sir Joseph Gold. London-born and educated, Sir Joseph received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of London, where he subsequently lectured. He received a doctoral degree from Harvard University in 1942 and joined the International Monetary Fund (IMF) as a counselor in 1946. Sir Joseph served the IMF in numerous capacities and retired in 1979 as general counsel and director of the Legal Department of the International Monetary Fund. He was a noted scholar of international monetary law and based on his contributions as an international civil servant, he was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 1980.

Sir Joseph was passionate about literature and was a renowned collector of first editions of contemporary authors. His collection was broad-based and included significant holdings of work by Dylan Thomas, Ezra Pound, Harold Pinter and Ted Hughes. His greatest enthusiasm was for Samuel Beckett, and he was determined that his Beckett collection be placed in an institution where it would be available for future generations of students and scholars of the great Irish author. Accordingly, in December 1999, Sir Joseph donated his Samuel Beckett Collection to the University of Delaware Library, just two months before his death at the age of 87 on Feb. 22, 2000.

The Sir Joseph Gold Samuel Beckett Collection contains a wealth of material by and about Samuel Beckett. A substantial collection of first British, French and American editions of Beckett's fiction, poetry and drama is present, with a significant number of them inscribed by Beckett to Sir Joseph. Sir Joseph also was interested in the reception of Beckett around the world, and he collected hundreds of foreign language editions of Beckett's writing. The Gold Collection also includes Beckett's contributions to anthologies and periodicals, as well as hundreds of secondary works.

Beckett was one of the most important authors to collaborate with visual artists, printers and book designers to produce fine press editions, and the Sir Joseph Gold Collection includes many of these efforts. In addition, the collection includes substantial quantities of Beckett's writings and related materials for the stage. Of particular interest are materials documenting elusive and obscure international productions of Beckett's plays, including playscripts, original posters, playbills, recordings, production photographs, artwork, publicity materials, copies of reviews and other theatrical ephemera. This type of material is extremely scarce and difficult to assemble, but Sir Joseph laboriously gathered it through world-wide searching over a number of decades.

"Samuel Beckett: A Celebration" celebrates the life and career of one of the 20th century's most acclaimed authors as well as the accomplishments of a dedicated collector.

An exhibition publication accompanies “Samuel Beckett: A Celebration” and is available at no charge to persons who visit the exhibition in the Special Collections Exhibition Gallery.

During the Samuel Beckett Festival at UD, the Special Collections Exhibition Gallery will have extended hours:

Thursday and Friday, Oct. 9-10: 9 a.m.-9 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 11: 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Regular hours for the Special Collections Exhibition Gallery are 9 a.m.-5 p.m., Mondays through Fridays, and until 8 p.m., Tuesdays.

Highlighting the Samuel Beckett Festival and heralding the Gold Collection at the University of Delaware will be the lecture entitled “’The Correspondence of Samuel Beckett’: Archival Adventures,” presented by Lois Overbeck and Martha Fehsenfeld, both research associates from the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences at Emory University and co-editors of “The Correspondence of Samuel Beckett.” Cosponsored by the University of Delaware Library Associates and the University of Delaware Library, this free public program will begin at 3 p.m., Friday, Oct. 10, in the Reserve Room of the Morris Library. A printed invitation is available upon request by contacting the Office of the Director by calling 831-2231 or sending e-mail to [libraryrsvp@winsor.lib.udel.edu].

In conjunction with the Samuel Beckett Festival, films of all 19 of Samuel Beckett’s stage plays which have been made for the big screen will be shown. This series of films, “Beckett on Film: 19 Films x 19 Directors,” all filmed in 2000, features an intriguing selection of internationally established film directors. A brochure about “Beckett on Film: 19 Films x 19 Directors” is available by contacting the Office of the Director by calling 831-2231 or sending an e-mail to [libraryrsvp@winsor.lib.udel.edu].

The Samuel Beckett Festival is sponsored by the Delaware Division of the Arts; the Delaware Humanities Forum; the Embassy Suites Newark-Wilmington South; the University of Delaware Library Associates; and the University of Delaware College of Arts and Science, Department of English, Departure of Foreign Languages and Literatures, Department of Theatre, Faculty Senate Committee on Cultural Activities and Public Events and the Library.

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