Lee Child is a highly acclaimed and award-winning author who has written over 24 Jack Reacher novels and numerous short stories. He is a global bestseller and a former Booker Prize judge.

The Lee Child Archive at UEA

UEA holds Child's archive, which includes early drafts, manuscripts and correspondence about the creation of Jack Reacher, one of English literature's most enduring characters. 

You can read about the announcement on Lee Child's Archive in The Observer, The Bookseller and the Eastern Daily Press.

The archive was opened to the public in March 2022. 

Frequently asked questions

How big is the archive? 
The paper archive consists of 26 linear metres of physical material within 157 boxes. It includes notebooks, correspondence, drafts, typescripts and working papers associated with the entire spectrum of Child’s writing career. To read more about the collection, visit the archive catalogue. 

Lee Child Archive Catalogue
 
Can I visit the archive? 
The archive was opened to the public in Spring 2022. Access is by prior apointment only, email archives@uea.ac.uk to make a booking. Please note that some of the archive is still being catalogued. 

Child's authorised biographer, Heather Martin, enjoyed privileged access to the archive during the writing of her biogaphy The Reacher Guy, which was published in October 2020. Both Martin and Child appeared together at UEA to discuss the book and the recording is available to view on request. 

Creative Writing students at UEA enjoy access to the draft manuscripts and correspondence as part of their studies. Material from the collection has also been exhibited at NOIRWICH: the international crimewriiting festival and at the Lee Child Symposium held on 31 March 2022. The exhibition revealed how Child set about writing his debut novel, Killing Floor, and its initial reception by fans and the publishing world. 
 
What can we look forward to discovering in the archive?
It includes early drafts, manuscripts and correspondence. Child's archive provides fascinating insights into the initial creation of one of English literature’s most enduring and uncompromising characters, and the structure and development of a long running and highly successful thriller series.

 

Lee Child Symposium

In March 2022, we hosted two landmark events to explore Child's legacy and the evolution of the crime thriller.

We celebrated the deposit of Lee Child's Archive at the UEA, and the 25th anniversary of the first Jack Reacher novel being published.

Our symposium celebrated the official opening of the archive of Child’s papers held at UEA. It also marked the 25th anniversary of the publication of Killing Floor (1997), which introduced the inimitable Jack Reacher, whose fight for justice, on behalf of the vulnerable and oppressed, has become a series hallmark.

Lee Child was also joined in conversation with novelist, biographer and critic Margaret Drabble and fiction and non-fiction writer and tutor Richard Beard, in a very rare public event. They discussed literary legacies, and what it means for your work to be popular, widely read and durable.

See the full day's programme

 

The University of East Anglia, UK, is proud to host this symposium dedicated to the writing of Lee Child, a key figure in contemporary crime fiction, and creator of the world-renowned Jack Reacher series. 

Hosted by the School of Literature, Drama and Creative Writing and by the British Archive for Contemporary Writing (BACW), this symposium celebrates the official opening of the archive of Child’s papers held at UEA. It also marks the 25th anniversary of the publication of Killing Floor (1997), which introduced the inimitable Jack Reacher, whose fight for justice, on behalf of the vulnerable and oppressed, has become a series hallmark. Reacher is a modern reworking of the mythic hero, a perpetual loner and outlaw.    

This UEA symposium is the first event to invite scholarly consideration of Child’s writing. The Jack Reacher series has attracted a global following along with literary prizes and critical acclaim – all of which are testament to Child’s skills as an author and his championing of the thriller form – yet his writing has garnered little academic attention to date. Lee Child is among that select group of authors whose crime series have longevity and a readership of 100 million+. The Reacher novels have  been translated into 50 languages and been adapted for film and TV. Among the questions this symposium aims to address are what factors have contributed to Jack Reacher’s enduring appeal, and how has the craft behind the character helped create this iconic status. 

The focus of the symposium will be Child’s work, but also considers the evolution of the thriller in the last 75 years and the future direction of this most exciting and malleable literary form. 

For those unable to make the daytime Symposium tickets are available to purchase for the evening event only when Lee Child will be in conversation with two of his greatest fans: Margaret Drabble and Richard Beard. This includes an exhibition, book signing and drinks. 

FULL PROGRAMME

12:00 Welcome

Includes registration, lunch and access to an exhibition from the Lee Child Archive, deposited at UEA in 2018. 

13:00-14:30 Panel One: The global influence and legacy of Lee Child and his mythic creation Jack Reacher. Dr Heather Martin, Dr Elspeth Latimer, Dr Jacob Rollinson

- Dr Heather Martin’s paper interrogates the relationship between writer and editor, drawing from materials in Child’s literary archive;  

- Dr Elspeth Latimer explores the transatlantic poetics of the Reacher series, with its ranging topographies of small-town Americana;  

- Dr Jacob Rollinson responds to the contextual resonances in the melody and silence of Reacher’s heroic archetype, in contemporary landscapes fraught with ideological tensions. 

Break

15:00-16:30 Panel Two: The evolution of the thriller over the last 75 years and the future direction of this most malleable and most exciting of literary forms. Prof. Gill Plain, Kim Sherwood, Ayo Onatade

This panel will consider the conventions and traditions of the thriller form, mapping its development over the last 75 years and speculating on its future directions.  

- Professor Gill Plain’s paper traces the antecedents to Lee Child’s work, examining the resurgence of the thriller in the aftermath of World War II through a close reading of the work of Hammond Innes.  

- Kim Sherwood discusses the solidification of the thriller as contemporary literary mode, whilst reflecting on her own creative participation in the expansion of the James Bond ‘Double O’ universe.  

- Finally, Ayo Onatade situates the thriller in a global context, exploring the form’s capacity for innovation, experimentation and change. 

Break

17:00-18:00 Round Table: Crossing genres, building bridges, carving paths: what can you learn from Lee Child and the contemporary crime thriller, and how might such approaches be applicable to other fictional and non-genre modes?

UEA Creative Writing, Literary Critical Faculty and other delegates will discuss approaches, prejudices, practicalities, opportunities and limitations of writing with purpose and design. A short provocation by Henry Sutton, Professor of Creative Writing and Crime Fiction, will be followed by a roundtable discussion featuring among others Tom Benn, Julia Crouch, Nathan Ashman. 

Prof. Henry Sutton, Tom Benn, Julia Crouch, Dr Nathan Ashman, Prof. Jean McNeil

Break

18:30-20:00 Lee Child: Landmark and Legacy Lee Child will be in conversation with Margaret Drabble and Richard Beard

Global bestselling thriller writer and former Booker Prize judge, Lee Child, will be joined by novelist, biographer and critic Margaret Drabble, and fiction and non-fiction writer and tutor Richard Beard in a very rare public event. They will discuss literary legacies, and what it means to be popular, read and durable. Their books alone have broken numerous boundaries and records around the world. Their opinions are highly sought. Please join these three extraordinary writers, who are also consummate educators and critics, in what promises to be a candid evening in exploration of fine writing.       

20:00:20:30  Book signing, exhibition, wine and soft drinks

Contact us

If you have further queries, please contact the Archivist, Justine Mann