Beckett events at the Taylorian

1 June 2007


The Taylor Institution ond its Library celebrates the Irish dramatist, novelist and poet Samuel Beckett with a small exhibition and a series of lectures, readings and films, following a surge of interest in his work after last year’s centenary of his birth.

The display showcases Dr. Bill Prosser’s drawings inspired by Beckett’s marginal illustrations on his play fragment entitled Human wishes. Artist Prosser has been studying Beckett’s spontaneous drawings as part of a larger project, Beckett and the Phenomenology of Doodles, funded by the Leverhulme Trust (see for information). While some of the pictures now on display at the Taylorian were exhibited in Paris as part of the centenary celebrations in November 2006, other exhibits are being shown for the first time.

Also on display are manuscript facsimiles of items such as Beckett’s notebooks, on loan from the Beckett International Foundation, as well as a few books from the Taylor Institution Library’s collections, including a 1st edition of En attendant Godot (Waiting for Godot), and others on loan from a private collection.

Amanda Peters, Librarian in Charge, Taylor Institution Library, said: ‘There is something about the atmosphere at the Taylor Institution that encourages library users and staff to combine their talents and imagination in creating events of this kind.  Personal passions for the audio-lingual and audio-visual heritage of Samuel Beckett and the desire to share these more widely, have given rise to a small festival of activities, which we are delighted to host this summer.’  

The exhibition opens at 12 noon on Saturday 2 June 2007, and is preceded at 11.30 a.m. by a reading by Dr Rosemary Pountney, Nicole Gore and Sarah Blair of Human wishes itself. The morning’s events kick off at 10 a.m. with a showing of Film, a short, silent film by Samuel Beckett [1964: dir. Alan Schneider] and a talk by Professor Jonathan Bignell of Reading University.  On Wednesday 6 June (5 pm), there is a talk on Beckett and Valentin by Dr Julian Garforth, with some of Karl Valentin’s films, and on Thursday 21 June (5.30 pm), the series concludes with a talk on Beckett by the Oxford Professor of Poetry, Professor Christopher Ricks.

The Taylor Institution has been at the heart of research in Modern Languages and Literatures for more than 150 years, and is the perfect location for such important international lectures and events.  The Library holds a number of early and special editions of Beckett’s work. The current exhibition coincides with a major Beckett retrospective currently on at the Centre Pompidou in Paris until 25 June.

The next Taylorian exhibition features Dante and is on from September.


Taylor Institution

Saturday 2 June

10 am Film: short, silent film by Samuel Beckett (1964: dir. Alan Schneider); talk by Prof Jonathan Bignell (Reading University).

11–11.30 am Coffee.

11.30 am Reading: Dr Rosemary Pountney, Nicole Gore and Sarah Blair read Beckett’s rarely performed short piece, Human wishes (1999, in English).

12 am Exhibition opening (drinks served):  Drawings in progress by artist Bill Prosser, inspired by Beckett’s marginal drawings, material from the Taylor Institution Library, and manuscript facsimiles from the Beckett International Foundation.

Exhibition 2 June– 31 July (Monday–Friday 9 am–5 pm; Saturday 9–1). 

All welcome; no charge.

Wednesday 6 June

5 pm Talk and film: A talk on the relationship between Beckett and the German film actor, Karl Valentin, by Dr Julian Garforth, with some of Valentin’s short films.

Thursday 21 June

5.30 pm Talk: A talk on Beckett by the Oxford Professor of Poetry, Christopher Ricks.

Events organized by the Taylor Institution Library . Non-University members wishing to attend should confirm to


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