Our collection of resources relating to the Nobel Prize winning author, Samuel Beckett, is the largest in the world and officially Designated by Arts Council England as an outstanding collection.

The collection originated in an exhibition organised by James Knowlson in 1971 for which Beckett and his friends donated the items which formed the nucleus of the archive Beckett continued to support the collection with great generosity until his death in 1989, donating manuscripts, paintings and other items.

The collection includes:

  • over 600 manuscripts and typescripts including manuscript drafts, annotated copies and corrected copies. Notebooks include the drafts of Beckett’s first novel, Murphy.
  • Beckett’s correspondence with many friends and collaborators including Ruby Cohn, Jocelyn Herbert and Pamela Mitchell
  • stage files containing programme, reviews and publicity material for around 700 productions of Beckett’s plays; along with other ephemera including posters
  • photographs, films and sound recordings relating to Beckett’s work
  • published works, many of which are available on open access, including 500 editions of his work in more 20 languages, 1000 critical and biographical works, journals, offprints and dissertations
  • artworks including framed works by Avigdor Arikha, Geer van Velde and Henri Hayden, presented to the collection by Beckett himself.

We also hold several other Beckett-related collections, the most notable of which are the archive of James and Elizabeth Knowlson and the papers of Billie Whitelaw and Katharine Worth.

The collection supports the work of the University’s Samuel Beckett Research Centre and the Beckett International Foundation. Ongoing projects include Staging Beckett, which has created a database of productions of Beckett’s work in the UK and Ireland.

Some manuscripts are available online as part of the Samuel Beckett Digitisation Project.

More information

See our Collections A-Z pages for more detail of our holdings.

The Beckett Collection is catalogued and searchable via the online catalogue. Please contact us if you need more information.

You can access the Beckett Collection via the reading room. Please note that surrogate copies of manuscripts, not originals, are normally made available for consultation

We welcome use of the Beckett Collection in teaching sessions.

A list of Samuel Beckett’s manuscripts in other repositories is available by searching The Location Register here.