Multi-award-winning author Eimear McBride is the inaugural Creative Fellow at the University of Reading’s Samuel Beckett Research Centre. This role allows her exclusive access to the University’s Beckett Archive and leading Beckett academics, and will see her produce a brand new piece of work inspired by the work of the Irish playwright. Here, in part one of her monthly journal, she talks about the daunting, and fascinating, task of following in Beckett’s footsteps.
I have the good fortune to be in receipt of the inaugural Creative Fellowship at the University of Reading’s Beckett Research Centre.
From now until the summer I’ll be haunting their reading room and ordering as much material by, and about, Beckett from their archive as I can possibly read – having already cast an eye over the fascinating ‘German Diaries’ and seen Beckett’s handwriting up close, it’s fair to say, the reading itself may prove something of a challenge.
The aim is that, by the end of the fellowship, I will have written a new work inspired by something I’ve come across in the archive. The remit is entirely open, which sounds wonderful and is. However, Beckett’s’ is a huge and extraordinary body of work and he lived such an extraordinary life.
Both have influenced, and generated, such vast arrays of artistic, academic and critical response that – when combined with the inevitable desire to spend every moment just staring at the original manuscript of Murphy – my task becomes very daunting indeed.
For example: In the first half hour, of my very first visit, I discovered Beckett’s personal library contained the fantastically pulpy The Wayward Wench. Rather than having unearthed a hitherto unknown branch of his reading though, it seems more likely I’d stumbled upon a personal gift from its author, the redoubtable sounding Miss Beamish, a probably lesbian, certainly Irish, middle-aged romance novelist, who befriended him while he was hiding out from the Nazi’s during the war. But, if I were so inclined, there’d be a novel’s worth of material in that meeting alone.
So, the question is: where to begin?
Read more about Eimear McBride and her role as Beckett Creative Fellow here.