Ithaca in Stratford-upon-Avon: A Tribute to Sir Derek Walcott.

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Third Instalment of a blog series, by Miranda Jones.

The next stage of research into this production has involved contacting archivists working with two further collections: The University of the West Indies’ Alma Jordan Library at St. Augustine, Trinidad and Tobago, and the Special Collections department within the University of Toronto’s Libraries, Canada.

The Alma Jordan Library (which is named after its pioneering first Campus Librarian, Dr. Alma Jordan) is based at the University of the West Indies’ St. Augustine Campus in Trinidad and Tobago. It has a renowned collection of material relating to Sir Derek Walcott, with an extensive archive including manuscripts, personal papers and a variety of other materials. This collection contains such items as draft scripts of ‘The Odyssey’, a production programme and even a guest ticket stub for Walcott’s own seat at the performance. As well as helping with the wider research on this project, the librarians at Alma Jordan have also very kindly offered me images of items in their collection for the purposes of this blog series, including this image of Walcott’s ticket stub:


An image of a ticket stub, detailing Derek Walcott’s guest seat at the performance.

The University of Toronto (Canada) has a number of archival holdings, with a variety of these archives and libraries participating in its ‘Discover Archives’ portal, increasing access to its collections. The Thomas Fisher Rare Books Library holds the Derek Walcott Papers Manuscript Collection in its Special Collections, spanning several decades. Helpfully, they have sent over copies of draft scripts, personal correspondence relating to the production and a copy of the theatrical programme.


Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library

The encouraging response of both these institutions has revealed the potential for productive collaboration between academic archives across the globe. It has been exciting to correspond with librarians at these archives, and to make use of their material, in conjunction with the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust’s own vast collection. Through this process, it has been possible to gain a clearer picture of the dialogues, drafts and decisions that ultimately led to this production taking place.

You can hear Miranda speak about the production as a Shakespeare Birthplace Trust Research Conversation on Wednesday 13 September at 5.00-6.00pm in the Shakespeare Centre: ‘Stratford Salutes Sir Derek Walcott!’ The event includes an opportunity to look archive material and will include some readings of Walcott’s work. No tickets required. Free. All welcome.


The views expressed in this article are the author’s own.

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Author:Miranda Jones

Miranda Jones is a Ph.D. Candidate at the University of Birmingham, funded by the Midlands3Cities AHRC Doctoral Training Partnership. Her work analyses the use of the pastoral mode in the poetry of Derek Walcott. After completing her MA in Shakespeare Studies at the Shakespeare Institute in Stratford-upon-Avon, Miranda is now working as a Research Advocate at the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, working on a series of blogs relating to Sir Derek Walcott’s work with the Royal Shakespeare Company. She will be holding a session of the ‘Research Conversations’ seminar series at the SBT on Wednesday 13 September, which will be open to all who are interested in this production of The Odyssey. Read Miranda’s academic profile here:

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