Trinity College becomes owner of largest collection of Beckett letters

Trinity College Dublin has purchased the largest number of Samuel Beckett’s letters ever to be
offered for public sale.

The collection, which totals 347 items, makes Trinity the biggest holder of Beckett correspondence
of any research facility worldwide.

Professor Chris Morash, Seamus Heaney Professor of Irish Writing, said students are keen to start using the material. “It will really be postgraduate research students who are most likely to use the collection, I know that several working with me are very excited about it,” he said.

The letters and cards were sent from the playwright to his friends Henri and Josette Hayden and are
dated from 1847-1982.

This marks a difficult time for the Nobel Prize winning author including the death of his mother.
Describing her decline, Beckett wrote: “It’s like one of those decrescendos made by the trains
at Ussy which I used to listen to at night, interminable, suddenly resuming just when everything
seemed finished and the silence final.”

This period corresponds with the completion of some of Beckett’s most famous works such
as ‘Waiting for Godot’ and trilogy of books ‘Molloy’, ‘Malone Dies’ and ‘The Unnameable’.

Professor Morash said “there is much to be learned from the way in which Beckett seemed to
communicate through visual images.”

The €190,000 collection was acquired by the bequest of former Keeper of Manuscripts in Trinity,
William O’Sullivan.

An exhibition of part of the collection is on display in the Long Room in Trinity College.

Image: The Irish Times

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