A new fellowship programme at the University of Reading highlights the continued relevance of the work of Samuel Beckett and the insights that can be gained from the engagement by modern artists with his legendary creative process.

The Irish author Samuel Beckett is widely considered to be one of the greatest writers of the twentieth century. The Beckett Archive at the University of Reading is the world’s largest collection of materials relating to the author and has been described as one of the ‘best-kept arts secrets in Britain’.

In 2016, the Samuel Beckett Research Centre (SBRC) was established at the University of Reading to realise the full potential of the Beckett Archive. Research at the SBRC, combined with the professional experience and creative practice of Professor Steven Matthews and other leading researchers at the Centre, inspired the establishment of three ‘Creative Fellowships’ designed to enable modern creative practitioners to develop projects and insights through unique access to the Beckett Archive.

The creative output from the SBRC’s Fellowship Programme has so far included plays, audio dramas, documentaries, feature articles and music compositions, many of which represent major artistic departures for the practitioners involved. Together, these works have generated significant interest from the general public and have opened up the work of Beckett and the collection held at the University of Reading for new audiences.

In doing so, this work has not only explored the potential of sparking new forms of creativity out of the otherwise scholarly context of working with archives; it has also highlighted the continued relevance of a great artist whose work transformed the creative landscape of the modern world.

Find out more

Samuel Beckett Research Centre

Creative Fellowships programme, including archived examples of the new work created by Eimear McBride, Robert McCrum and Tim Parkinson

View the full impact case study on the REF 2021 website: Inspiring new creative practice through engagement with the Samuel Beckett Archive