Dorset Archives Trust (DAT) has started a campaign to raise the final £5,000 needed to purchase a collection of important manuscript and printed material once owned by Dorset’s literary giant Thomas Hardy.
The archives have been in private hands for decades. A successful purchase would mean that the collection will be returned to the county and held for public benefit and access at Dorset History Centre.
The collection consists of 46 separate elements, including books thar once formed part of Hardy’s own library at Max Gate. One such is Hardy’s annotated copy of Horace from his school days and his personal edition of Pouncy’s ‘Dorsetshire Photographically Illustrated’. There are also letters from Hardy, with one giving a clear expression of the author’s interest in animal welfare, and a poem penned by Hardy referring to the embarkation of soldiers for service in the Boer War. Hardy’s typescript of the speech he delivered at the opening of Dorchester Grammar School in 1925 is also part of the collection.
The collection is the most significant to have been offered for sale for many years and, if acquired, will sit alongside the principal Hardy archive housed and made accessible in the Dorset History Centre, where the majority of the collection is owned by Dorset County Museum.
Chairman of Dorset Archives Trust, Carola Campbell, said, “The Trust is thrilled to have the opportunity to acquire this collection on behalf of the Dorset History Centre. Particularly exciting are the new insights this once hidden treasure of archival material reveals about the private thoughts and life of Thomas Hardy.”
Thanks to generous grants totalling £45,000, only £5,000 remains to be raised.
Donations can be made online at virginmoneygiving.com/thomashardycollection. Alternately, cheques can be sent to Dorset Archives Trust, c/o Dorset History Centre, Bridport Road, Dorchester, Dorset.
DAT plans to support Dorset History Centre’s next project to fully catalogue and conserve the Hardy archive and to make it available online. Fundraising to support this work will commence in the New Year.
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