Trinity College Library is celebrating today having announced the acquisition of the largest collection of Beckett correspondence ever to have been offered for sale at a public auction. The arrival of almost 350 letters and cards, written by Nobel Laureate Samuel Beckett to the artists Henri and Josette Hayden, cements the Library’s position as the research world’s number one repository for Beckett correspondence.
Trinity was enabled to make the purchase because of the generosity of a former staff member; William O’Sullivan, Keeper of Manuscripts from the 1950s to 1982, left a bequest to the Library which made this acquisition possible.
Beckett and his partner, later wife, Suzanne Deschevaux-Dumesnil, met the Haydens when both couples were in southern France evading discovery by the Nazis. The letters in this collection begin in 1947 and cover the difficult period in Beckett’s life during which his mother and his beloved brother Frank died. They also cover the most intensely fertile period of the author’s writing life when he was completing Waiting for Godot, and working on all three books of his trilogy Molloy, Malone Dies and The Unnameable.
The letters are a wonderful mix of the profound and the hilarious and will be invaluable for both biographers and students of Beckett’s work.
Launching the collection today were the new Librarian, Helen Shenton, and the Head of Research Collections and Keeper of Manuscripts, Dr Bernard Meehan. Also present was Chris Morash, Seamus Heaney Professor of Irish Writing at Trinity.