Knowlson, James & Elizabeth – Archive and Library

Professor¬†James‚ÄĮKnowlson‚ÄĮis Emeritus Professor of French at the University of Reading where he founded the Beckett Archive (now the¬†Beckett International Foundation). He was a friend of Samuel Beckett for twenty years and is his authorised biographer, publishing‚ÄĮDamned to Fame: The Life of Samuel Beckett¬†with Bloomsbury in 1996. He has written or edited many other books and essays on Beckett and modern drama, including most recently¬†Images of Beckett¬†with theatre photographer John Haynes.

Dr Elizabeth¬†Knowlson‚ÄĮlectured in French at the University of Glasgow from 1961 to 1969. After having three children, she resumed her university career as an administrator at the Centre for Applied Language Studies in the University of Reading, before leaving her post to assist her husband with his biography of Beckett and his later books and essays.

(Source for Elizabeth‚ÄĮKnowlson‚ÄĮinformation:‚ÄĮ¬†Elizabeth¬†Knowlson. [online])

Archive Collection

Reference: JEK                    Date: 1906-2010                    Extent: approx. 160 boxes

The archive collection contains about 2,000 items, which are organised into five sections: research material, correspondence, audio visual material, photographs and artwork, and objects.‚ÄĮThis includes original manuscripts, interviews with friends and colleagues of Beckett’s, over 6500 letters to more than 160 recipients, including nearly 200 to James‚ÄĮKnowlson‚ÄĮhimself, and‚ÄĮKnowlson’s‚ÄĮresearch files.‚ÄĮ‚ÄĮ¬†


Library Collection

Reference: KNOWLSON/BECKETT COLLECTION                    Date: 1755-2020                    Extent: 1,282 volumes

The collection was originally the private¬†working¬†library of Professor‚ÄĮJames¬†Knowlson. It includes editions of Beckett‚Äôs works, critical works, journals and books on art, literature, theatre, poetry and other subjects that relate to the study of Beckett.¬†¬†


  • This¬†collection is searchable on the¬†online catalogue.
  • The collection is located next to the Beckett Collection open access book collection in the open access corridor¬†of Special Collections.
  • See also the¬†Beckett Collection: Published Works.