Bestselling author Lee Child’s legacy celebrated at UEA event

Published by  Communications

On 9th Mar 2022

Lee Child © Axel Dupeux

One of the world’s most popular writers will be coming to Norwich when the University of East Anglia (UEA) hosts an event dedicated to the writing of Lee Child, creator of the world-renowned Jack Reacher series and the evolution of the crime thriller.  

Hosted by UEA’s School of Literature, Drama and Creative Writing and British Archive for Contemporary Writing (BACW), the Lee Child Symposium will celebrate the official opening of the archive of Child’s papers held at UEA and will also mark the 25th anniversary of the publication of his debut novel Killing Floor, which introduced his most famous literary character: Jack Reacher. 

Members of the media are invited to attend the day’s public event: a live in conversation with Lee Child and Margaret Drabble, chaired by Richard Beard on 31 March. 

What: Lee Child: Landmark and Legacy 

When: 6.30–8pm with book signing and refreshments at 8-8.30pm 

Where: The Enterprise Centre, UEA 

The Jack Reacher series has attracted a global following, with a readership of over 100 million, translation into 50 languages and adaptations for film and TV, most recently, the hugely successful Amazon Prime series, Reacher. Among the questions the symposium and in conversation event aim to address are what factors have contributed to Jack Reacher’s enduring appeal, and how the craft behind the character helped create its iconic status. 

Prof Henry Sutton, Professor of Creative Writing and Crime Fiction said: “Lee Child is the most significant crime thriller writer of his generation. With extraordinary literary skill and acute characterisation, he redrew the map and created a globally recognised figure in the form of Jack Reacher.  

“Child's generosity and openness as a reader, a critic and a practitioner add greatly to his legacy and will continue to influence and enable writers across genres for generations to come.” 

The evening event will see Lee Child in conversation with Dame Margaret Drabble, literary writer of more than 20 books and fan of Jack Reacher. This will be chaired by UEA graduate and award-winning writer, Richard Beard.  

The symposium earlier in the day will also consider the evolution of the thriller in the last 75 years and features a range of leading writers and critics including the new James Bond writer, UEA alumna Kim Sherwood.  

The archive will be on display at the symposium and evening event and will include drafts (including the handwritten manuscript of Killing Floor), manuscripts and correspondence relating to the Jack Reacher series as well as notebooks, correspondence, drafts, typescripts and working papers associated with the spectrum of Lee Child's writing career. 

Justine Mann, Archivist at UEA’s British Archive for Contemporary Writing, said: “The Lee Child archive provides writers, readers and researchers with an incredible behind the scenes look at the creation of Jack Reacher; from the very first draft of Lee Child’s debut novel, Killing Floor, recently adapted on Amazon Prime as ‘Reacher’, to the sales and marketing plans of major publishing houses that helped make him a global bestselling brand.”   

Exhibited at the event will be original pencil drafts of the first Jack Reacher novel, written by Lee Child on his dining table in mid 1990s Kirby Lonsdale. They will be displayed alongside editorial feedback from agents and publishers and fan letters that illustrate his wide readership - from US presidents to prison inmates. 

For more information, and to book tickets, visit  https://www.uea.ac.uk/library/british-archive-for-contemporary-writing/a-z-writers/lee-child 

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