From hand-written notes and scribbled ideas to published novels - a new archive detailing the writing process of an award-winning novelist has been donated to the University of East Anglia (UEA).
The archive contains more than 50 boxes of typed manuscripts, short stories, pencil drafts, notes and re-workings by the Yorkshire-based novelist Robert Edric.
A self-proclaimed “hoarder” of his own work, the archive shows in fantastic detail the creative writing process.
Edric has published more than 20 novels, including the prestigious James Tait Black Award-winning Winter Garden, as well as Peacetime and Gathering the Water which have both been long-listed for the Man Booker Prize.
He is also the author of a trilogy of crime novels set in Hull - Cradle Song, Siren Song and Swan Song.
The archive dates back to the early 1980s, when Edric first put pen to paper. He went on to save every single word he wrote – much of which is either hand-written or typed.
He decided to part with his archive after a chance meeting with UEA lecturer Prof Chris Bigsby.
“I had been keeping everything in cardboard boxes in our house, but I hadn’t realised how rare those paper drafts are these days,” he said.
“I mostly write in pencil on paper and I’ve kept everything. I never throw anything away and I don’t write on a computer so there is no ‘delete’ option.
“You never normally know how a writer works. It takes an enormous amount of energy, but if you work on a computer there’s no way of showing someone the process because you end up deleting things, re-writing parts.
“You don’t ever see the scribbles and revisions from 20 years ago – how you reworked and reworked the text. I only really use a computer to finish the process.
“The vast part of the archive has never seen the light of day. Four or five of my early novels were never published – but they were the foundations of my career and I was learning to work hard.
“Looking back, I realise I have been quite a prolific writer – especially at the start when I was writing two or three novels a year.
“I decided to donate it all to UEA because it’s nice to keep it all intact. It’s a beautiful thing to look at.”
The Robert Edric Archive is held in the UEA Library Archives, alongside a growing number of literary archives which includes those of Doris Lessing, Lorna Sage, JD Salinger, Malcolm Bradbury and Roger Deakin.
“I’ve still got about eight years of more recent work at home. I expect they’ll be coming to UEA in another tranche,” he added.
Prof Chris Bigsby, from the university's School of American Studies
, said: "It is unusual to have a collection quite as complete as this, with many drafts and typescripts which enable us to follow the development of individual works as well as the unfolding career of a writer who is so frequently in line for major awards and who is such a significant presence in contemporary literature.
"Given the fact that UEA is a centre for would be writers it also affords them an opportunity to explore the writing process."
Edric's latest novel The Devil's Beat is due to be published in March by Doubleday.
The new archive coincides with the 40th anniversary of the university’s Creative Writing programme
, which counts Booker Prize-winners Ian McEwan, Kazuo Ishiguro, and Anne Enright among its graduates.
The programme is to be awarded a Queen's Anniversary Prize
in February - the UK’s most prestigious higher education award, given to those who can demonstrate outstanding work at a world-class level.
For more information about the Robert Edric Archive, visit www.uea.ac.uk/is/archives