Academics and writers call for poet John Clare archive to be protected

Academics and writers call for poet John Clare archive to be protected

Issued: Thu, 11 Jan 2018 09:00:00 GMT

A leading University of Glasgow professor is among a stellar cast of writers and academics appealing to an English council to protect a unique collection by John Clare, the great English countryside poet.


Professor Gerard Carruthers, Francis Hutcheson Professor of Literature, is one of nearly 30 signatories to an open letter to Northamptonshire County Council published on 10 January 2018 in The Guardian newspaper.

The letter expresses concerns about the cuts planned to library services across the English county which are currently out to public consultation through the council’s Review of library services in Northamptonshire.

Although Northampton Central Library “home to an important collection of the manuscripts and books of the poet John Clare” is not specifically mentioned in the review, the letter expresses concern that it could still be detrimentally affected by cuts to library staff and services. 

The letter says: “The collection at Northampton has always been maintained by expert, attentive, scholarly librarians, who do their level best with scant resources to make this publicly owned archive available to readers and researchers of all kinds.

“Our central concern here is that – given the size of the cuts planned, and the loss of staff and expertise delivered by all of the council’s options – there will be a permanently detrimental effect upon the care and curation of the Clare collection.

“We worry that this internationally significant collection will no longer be safe in the council’s hands. We would like the council to give public and quantified assurances that this will not be the case.”
Professor Carruthers said: “The John Clare collection is of international significance and importance to scholars and creative artists alike.

“It is important to ensure that collections of this importance are curated and protected for future generations and we want that assurance from the council.”

The letter can be read in full here and was signed by people including writers Hilary Mantel and Philip Pullman, as President of the Society of Authors, as well as, Simon Kövesi, Editor of the John Clare Society Journal and Professor of English Literature at Oxford Brookes University, the University of Oxford’s Simon Armitage and Comedian Josie Long.