Working with Archives is a day-long event on the topic of archival research. Aimed at postgraduate students, this event is comprised of series of workshops and seminars led by expert archivists and academics.

March 4th 2016, The John Rylands Library, Deansgate, Manchester, M3 3EH

The day will begin with a practical session on working with archives, covering issues such as locating material, ethics, copyright, collections policy, and born-digital archives. The second session will be a roundtable conversation between an archivist, a critic, a publisher, and an archived artist. In the third session we’ll divide into two groups to undertake two activities – the first group will work with archival materials drawn from the Rylands’ collection; the second will tour the Rylands Library, guided by Elizabeth Gow, an expert on the library’s founder Enriqueta Augustina Rylands. The fifth and final session, ‘Literary Archive or Literary Heritage?’ takes the form of a lecture and workshop that considers the different perspectives of scholars, archivists and curators in their approaches to manuscripts.


‌Alberto Manguel

‘On the Archive’


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Fran Baker and David Sutton

‘Working with Archives’


Download the Powerpoint

 Baker Sutton

‌Tara Bergin



Watch on Vimeo


Wim van Mierlo

‘The Affect of Manuscripts’


Watch on Prezi

 van mierlo


Event partners: 


View the Programme

9:00am – 10:00am Registration
10:00am – 11:15am Using Archives
10:00am – 10:15am Introduction to the day (Paul Wake and Nikolai Duffy, Manchester Metropolitan University)
10:15am – 11:15am Practical session on archival work (Fran Baker, The John Rylands Library, The University of Manchester, and David Sutton, University of Reading)
  • Ethics
  • Copyright
  • Locating and using archival materials
  • Collections policy
  • Born digital archives
11:15am – 11:40am Break
11:40am – 1:10pm The Archive: Four Perspectives
A roundtable session with four ten-minute presentations and discussion:
  • Archivist (Jennie Hill, Aberystwyth University)
  • Poet (Tara Bergin, Newcastle University)
  • Literary critic (Andrew Biswell, Manchester Metropolitan University)
  • Publisher (Michael Schmidt, St John’s College, Cambridge)
1:10pm – 2:00pm Lunch
2:00pm – 3:45pm Archival Materials/Tour
The students will divide into two groups to undertake two forty-minute sessions. The sessions run twice to allow students to undertake both activities.
Session 1:  The Architecture of the Archive (tour of the John Rylands library) (Elizabeth Gow, Manchester University)
Session 2: Archival Artefacts (The Bible Room) (Fran Baker and Stella Halkyard, The John Rylands Library, The University of Manchester)
3:45pm – 4:10pm Break
4:10pm – 5:15pm ‘Literary Archive or Literary Heritage?’ (Wim Van Mierlo, Loughborough University)
5:15pm – 5:20pm Closing Remarks (Paul Wake and Nikolai Duffy, Manchester Metropolitan University)
6.00pm – 6:30pm Wine reception for Alberto Manguel Public Lecture
6.30pm – 8:00pm

Alberto Manguel Public Lecture


The final event of the day is a plenary lecture open to the public given by Alberto Manguel. Author of The Dictionary of Imaginary Places (with Gianni Guadalupi in 1980), A History of Reading (1996), and The Library at Night (2007), Manguel is an internationally renowned anthologist, translator, essayist, novelist and editor. Tickets to Alberto Manguel’s lecture are free, but these must be booked in advance. 

View the Speakers

 Baker Fran Baker


Fran Baker is an archivist at The University of Manchester Library, where she has responsibility for literary archives, social and political history archives and born-digital archives. She has an MA in Archive Administration and an MPhil in English Literature. She was a founder member of the Group for Literary Archives and Manuscripts, and is currently the Group’s Treasurer. Her MPhil thesis was published in 2005, and she has also published articles on literary and born-digital archives.

Bergin Tara Bergin


Tara Bergin is from Dublin. Her first poetry collection, This is Yarrow is published by Carcanet Press and has been awarded the Seamus Heaney Centre for Poetry Prize and the Irish Shine/Strong Award. She was named as one of the Next Generation Poets in 2014. Tara has worked extensively with Modern Literary Archives, including a period of PhD research at Emory University, Atlanta, and post-doctoral collaborative work on the Bloodaxe Archive at Newcastle University. She currently lectures on poetry at Newcastle.

Biswell Andrew Biswell


Andrew Biswell is Professor of Modern Literature at MMU and Director of the International Anthony Burgess Foundation. His publications include a biography, The Real Life of Anthony Burgess, the new Penguin Classics/Random House Digital edition of A Clockwork Orange, plus articles on Peter Ackroyd, William Boyd, J.M. Coetzee and A.L.Kennedy. He is one of the General Editors of the Irwell Edition of the Works of Anthony Burgess, to be published by Manchester University Press. As a literary journalist, he has written for the Times Literary Supplement, Guardian, Telegraph, Literary Review and the Boston Globe. Outside the university, he is a director of the Carcanet Press.

Duffy Nikolai Duffy


Nikolai Duffy is a Senior Lecturer in American Literature at Manchester Metropolitan University. He has published various essays on experimental writing practices, contemporary poetics, and small press publishing. His cross-genre work fusing poetry and essay, the little shed of various lamps, was published by Very Small Kitchen in August 2013 and his Relative Strangeness: Reading Rosmarie Waldrop was published by Shearsman in April 2013. He has recently edited The Selected Poems of Rosmarie Waldrop, which will be published by New Directions in 2016; his collection of prose poems, Up the Creek, is also forthcoming in 2016.

Gow Elizabeth Gow


Since qualifying as an archivist in 2002, Elizabeth Gow has worked for the University of Manchester Library as a professional archivist and manuscript curator. She curated the 2008 exhibition at the John Rylands Library to mark the centenary of the death of Enriqueta Rylands. In 2015 she was awarded an AHRC NWDTP studentship to undertake a part-time PhD in Museum Studies.

Halkyard Stella Halkyard


Stella Halkyard is the Visual Collections and Academic Engagement Manager at The John Rylands Library. Stella has considerable curatorial experience in libraries and archive repositories and focuses her attention on The John Rylands Library Art and Visual Culture collections. She has studied English Literature, Archive Administration, and the History of Art and Visual Culture at the Universities of Newcastle, Liverpool and Manchester.

Hill Jennie Hill


Jennie Hill is Director of Postgraduate Studies in the Department of Information Studies at Aberystywth University. She lectures in aspects of archives and records management, rare books, and the history of recordkeeping and is editor of the Facet volume The Future of Archives and Recordkeeping. In addition to interests in literary archives and archive theory, she is currently undertaking research into the shaping of the heritage landscape in the UK.

manguel Alberto Manguel


Alberto Manguel is a Canadian writer, translator, editor and critic, born in Buenos Aires in 1948. He has published several novels, including News From a Foreign Country Came, and All Men Are Liars, and non-fiction, including With BorgesA History of ReadingThe Library at Night and (together with Gianni Guadalupi) The Dictionary of Imaginary Places. He has received numerous international awards, among others the Commander of the Order of Arts & Letters from France, and is doctor honoris causa of the universities of Ottawa and York in Canada, and Liège in Belgium and Anglo Ruskin, Cambridge, UK. His new book, Curiosity, was published in March 2015.

Michael Schmidt Michael Schmidt


Michael Schmidt is a Mexican-British poet, author, scholar and publisher. Born in Mexico City, Mexico, Schmidt studied at Harvard and at Wadham College, Oxford University. He is founder (1969) and editorial and managing director of Carcanet Press and a founder (1973) and general editor of PN Review. A fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, he received an OBE in 2006 for services to poetry.

Sutton David Sutton


Dr David Sutton has been Director of Research Projects in Reading University Library since 1982. He is editor of the Location Register of English Literary Manuscripts and Letters and UK editor of the WATCH copyright project (Writers Artists & Their Copyright Holders). He has been awarded the Benson Medal of the Royal Society of Literature for distinguished services to literature; the Archivist of the Year award (Scone Foundation, New York, 2006); and Honorary Fellowship of the Royal Society of Literature (FRSL, 2012). He is Chair of the Section for Archives of Literature and Art (SLA) in the International council on Archives and Chair of the UK group called GLAM (Group for Literary Archives and Manuscripts). He has published extensively on literary manuscripts and on ways of tracing copyright holders, and his other interests include food history (contributor to the Oxford Symposium on Food & Cookery 2009-2014) and local politics (Leader of Reading Council 1995-2008: Chair of the Board of Reading Buses, 2010-date).

See his University of Reading home page at:, the Wikipedia article about him at:, the websites for which he is responsible at:

van mierlo Wim Van Mierlo


Wim Van Mierlo is Lecturer in Publishing at Loughborough University.  He has worked on and written about the literary manuscripts of a wide range of authors for well over 20 years.  He has published extensively on James Joyce, and has edited the manuscripts of Where There is Nothing and The Unicorn from the Stars, two plays written collaboratively by Yeats and Lady Gregory, for the Cornell Yeats Series.  His current book project is titled, The Archaeology of the Poem: William Wordsworth to Ted Hughes, which will be a comparative study of the composition methods and creative practice of 6 or 7 poets.  He is also the editor-in-chief of Variants: the Journal of the European Society for Textual Scholarship.

Paul Wake Paul Wake


Paul Wake is a Reader in the Department of English Literature and Co-Director of the Humanities Research Centre at Manchester Metropolitan University. He is author of Conrad’s Marlow: Narrative and Death in ‘Youth,’ Heart of Darkness, Lord Jim and Chance (2007), and co-editor, with Simon Malpas, of The Routledge Companion to Critical and Cultural Theory (2013). He has also written on the historical novel, the literature of the Gunpowder Plot, early modern archives, games and interactive fiction, and children’s literature.