Library announces addition to the Beckett collection

College has expanded the archive of Irish writer and Trinity alumni Samuel Beckett

Today, College has announced an addition to the Trinity alumni Samuel Beckett collection. 

The Library has acquired the archive of “Rockaby”, the 1981 play by Irish writer and playwright Samuel Beckett. 

The archive includes copies of the original play and its French translation, production notes, correspondence from Beckett, material from the play’s premiere and photographs of Beckett at later rehearsals in London.

The Library released an online exhibition today, and announced that the entire Rockaby archive will be made available later in 2021 in the Library’s Digital Collections.

The Rockaby material adds to the Library’s Beckett Literary Archive Collection, which was founded by Beckett himself with the gift of four notebooks in 1969. 

The Library has expanded the archive over the years, and it is now a “leading” collection of original material and research relating to the Trinity alumni. 

The Beckett collection is considered significant for scholarship on Beckett’s life and works, providing insight into his creative process and response to his plays’ performances. 

In addition to the latest Rockaby material, the Trinity collection contains the largest collection of Beckett’s private correspondence, draft notebooks of the prose work Imagination dead imagine, and a first edition of Waiting for Godot, annotated by Beckett when directing this play’s first performance. 

Speaking on the recent acquisition, Trinity librarian and archivist Helen Shenton said: “The Library of Trinity College Dublin has one of the world’s greatest collections of Beckett archives.” 

Shenton continued: “The archives relating to the origins and world premiere of the play ‘Rockaby’ is significant for Beckett scholarship, both nationally and internationally.”

“We welcome the opportunity to be able to share these collections with researchers,” she added. “We are especially grateful for the philanthropic support which made the acquisition of these manuscripts possible as well as their cataloguing and conservation.”

The Friends of the Library provided funding for the acquisition of the Rockaby archive. The Library also thanked the Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation for supporting the cataloguing, conservation and curation of the exhibition. 

Beckett wrote Rockaby at the request of Daniel Labeille, who was organising a festival to celebrate Beckett’s 75th birthday, for the State University of New York, Buffalo. It was “uncommon” for Beckett to write upon request, and Labeille was “delighted at receiving a new work”. 

The play premiered in April 1981, directed by Alan Schneider and performed by Billie Whitelaw. 

Sarah Emerson

Sarah Emerson is currently a Deputy News Editor of Trinity News. She is a Senior Sophister English Literature and Jewish and Islamic Civilizations Student.