Samuel Beckett Takes a Road Trip With His Mother

“In the summer of 1935, Samuel Beckett and his widowed mother, May, took a three-week road trip together in England. It is not clear whose idea it was, but Beckett, who was living in an almost destitute state in London at the time, seems to have gone along with the plan willingly enough. With his mother paying all expenses, he hired a small car and took her on what he called a “lightning tour” of English market towns and cathedral cities including St Albans, Canterbury, Winchester, Bath and Wells. They covered hundreds of miles, driving as far as the West Country and spending almost three weeks together.

Beckett described their trip together in letters to his friend Tom MacGreevy, later the director of the National Gallery of Ireland. After they reached the West Country, he told MacGreevy, their hired car struggled with the “demented gradients, 1 in 4 a commonplace” around hilly Porlock and Lynton. They decided not to spend a night in the seaside resort of Minehead: one look at it was enough. Instead, they spent almost a week in a comfortable hotel in Lynmouth, close to where Shelley was said to have stayed. From there they went on day excursions around the coast and toured the literary locations of North Devon, including the Exmoor of Lorna Doone and the bathing place of Westward Ho! on Bideford Bay, named after Charles Kingsley’s famous book.”

Read More
Advertisements

The Book Show (RTÉ Radio 1): Eimear McBride on Samuel Beckett

“On this special episode of The Book Show Eimear McBride (A Girl is a Half Formed Thing, The Lesser Bohemians) visits The Samuel Beckett Collection in University of Reading. There she gains a rare glimpse at the original manuscripts of Beckett’s first publish novel Murphy and his last published prose work Stirrings Still.

With contributions by Head of Archive Services Guy Baxter, Director of the Beckett International Foundation Dr Mark Nixon, Chair of the Samuel Beckett Research Centre Stephen Matthews, Beckett’s biographer and friend James Knowlson, actors Lisa Dawn and Olwen Fouéré.”

Read More

Samuel Beckett Featured on BBC Radio 4’s Great Lives

BBC Radio 4: “Business guru Sir Gerry Robinson was born in Ireland but moved to England in his teens, and he chooses Samuel Beckett, another Irishman who lived away for much of his life – in Paris. Gerry, a late convert to Beckett’s plays, loves him because he’s accepting of the human condition: that we’re all locked in this repetitive pattern. We don’t want to keep on doing the same thing over and over again, but we do. Presenter Matthew Parris is also joined by Jim Knowlson, who was a personal friend of Samuel Beckett for 19 years, and is his authorised biographer. He reveals that Beckett was far from the dour gloomy figure of popular imagination, and was in fact very good company – as long as you didn’t interrupt him when he was watching the rugby on the telly on a Saturday afternoon. Producer Beth O’Dea.”

Read More

Michael Coffey on his book, Samuel Beckett Is Closed

“[A]ny attempt to get a handle on Beckett takes you to into interesting territory—to classical music, Irish history, Continental philosophy, World War II, abstract painting, the French language. For a quiet man his interests were voracious. Beckett scholarship has ranged far beyond those seminal early essays by Maurice Blanchot and Theodor Adorno and the studies by Ruby Cohn and Lawrence Harvey. Now, with James Knowlson’s authorized biography, the recently released four volumes of letters, and the digital manuscript project going on in Antwerp, the study of his works is vibrant all around the world.”

Read More