Exhibit on Nobel Prize in Literature

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photo of Alice Munro display

In celebration of the awarding of 2013 Nobel Prize in Literature to Alice Munro—the first Canadian so honoured—the Division of Archives and Research Collections is pleased to present an exhibition highlighting Munro and 17 other Nobel Laureates represented in our collections.  The documents featured include letters and cards written by the authors, manuscripts of their work, signed first editions, broadsides and more.

One exhibit case is devoted entirely to Alice Munro (Nobel Prize in Literature, 2013) and draws primarily from the archive of her long time editor and publisher, Douglas Gibson.  It includes letters from Munro to Gibson, as well as a transcribed dust jacket proof of Too Much Happiness, manuscripts of some of her work, and other documents.

Also prominently featured is the archive of Bertrand Russell (1950).  Russell is one of three philosophers to have been awarded the prize.  Selections from his vast archive include manuscripts and books and, perhaps of greatest interest, his Nobel Prize medal and diploma, just as he would have received them at the Stockholm Concert Hall on December 10, 1950.

Russell’s archive also includes several letters from individuals who received, or would go on to receive, the Nobel Prize in Literature.  Letters—and related publications—on display include those from Rabindranath Tagore (1913), John Galsworthy (1932), T.S. Eliot (1948), François Mauriac (1962), Jean-Paul Sartre (1964), Pablo Neruda (1971), and Harold Pinter (2004). Eliot wrote a poem about his impression of Russell as a professor at Harvard in 1914—‘Mr. Apollinax’ was published in Prufrock and other observations in 1917, a copy of which is included in the display.

From our Samuel Beckett (1969) collection, we are exhibiting manuscripts and letters in his famously challenging handwriting, as well as editions of his work and news clippings from the time of the awarding of his Nobel Prize.

Other Nobel laureates from the second half of the 20th century included in the exhibit are John Steinbeck (1962)—a letter from the James Brasch archive and a postcard from the Claire Mowat archive; William Golding (1983)—a letter from the H.R. Percy archive; Seamus Heaney (1995)—colourful cards addressed to Christopher Levenson, from his archive; and Doris Lessing (2007)—a letter from the Vera Brittain archive. 

 From earlier in the century, we are featuring Rudyard Kipling (1907)—documents from our Copp Clark archive, his Canadian publisher; W.B. Yeats (1923)—letters from the C. F. McLoughlin archive ; George Bernard Shaw (1925)—cards from the W.H.R. Rivers collection; and Thomas Mann (1929)—letters from the Eric Bick collection. These documents are complemented by first and early edition books, broadsides and other documents.

We hope that you will come to see this remarkable collection of 18 of the greatest names in world literature in the 20th and 21st centuries.  The exhibit will run until early summer 2014.

Items selected by Renu Barrett and Rick Stapleton

Installation by Renu Barrett and Audrie Schell

Text by Rick Stapleton; photo by Renu Barrett