Knowlson, James & Elizabeth – Archive and Library

Professor James Knowlson is 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 Damned 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 lectured 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 Knowlson information: 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. This includes original manuscripts, interviews with friends and colleagues of Beckett’s, over 6500 letters to more than 160 recipients, including nearly 200 to James Knowlson himself, and Knowlson’s research files.   


Library Collection

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

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