LETTER : Scholarship without borders Scandal? We aid scholarship

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The Independent Online
The appropriate word to characterize the acquisition of contemporary literary archives by American research libraries is hardly "scandal" ("The scandal of Britain's lost literary archives", 8 December). If indeed it were a scandal, you're rather late in reporting it. The Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center has been acquiring, cataloguing and preserving the literary archives of British writers for over 40 years; George Bernard Shaw, D H Lawrence, Elizabeth Bowen, Graham Greene, Evelyn Waugh, Paul Scott, Edith Sitwell and Virginia Woolf are a few of nearly 100 modern British writers whose papers are held at the Center.

There is abundant evidence that worldwide use of these materials has enhanced scholarly as well as general interest in the works of these writers. British authors of major biographies ofWaugh (two), Greene, Lawrence (five), Scott, Bowen, Shaw, Lytton Strachey and two dozen more have used the archives at the Center. Nearly half of the annual research fellowships ($2,000 to $6,000) awarded by the Center have been to scholars from the UK to pursue the study of our literary holdings.

Surely as we continue to shrink the Atlantic Ocean by both transportation and cyberspace, there should be some recognition that scholarship in our common language is a mutual enterprise.

Thomas F Staley

Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center

The University of Texas

at Austin