University of Dundee University of Dundee
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24 June 2010

University and Canongate link to form 'Living Archive'

A 'living archive' of the records of leading Scottish publisher Canongate Books is to be kept at the University of Dundee.

The link between the University and Canongate will be celebrated with an event at the Dundee Literary Festival on Friday June 25th.

Canongate is renowned for being both innovative and hugely successful, home to a list of authors that runs from Barack Obama through Philip Pullman to Nick Cave and Alasdair Gray. Now the firm will turn its entire archive - including letters, e-mails and even text messages - over to the University’s Archive Services department.

'When we were approached by the University of Dundee with a proposal to create and house a Canongate Archive we were both flattered and thrilled,' said Jamie Byng, Publisher and Managing Director of Canongate Books.

'Flattered for obvious reasons, thrilled because as the world becomes increasingly digital there are ever more ways in which language is experienced and communicated and stored. Having the expertise and knowledge of the University’s Archive Services to help us record and document our past, present and future is a generous gift and a wonderful opportunity.

'Canongate has always attempted to publish the best writing and in the most imaginative ways. This new venture with the University of Dundee will help us to continue to do so.'

Patricia Whatley, University Archivist, said, 'This is a massively important literary collection which has led the way in Scottish publishing.

'We are delighted to have the archival collection in the University Archives, where it can be used by a wide range of scholars. The University has established a centre of excellence in literary studies, book history and creative writing, headed by Professor Kirsty Gunn.

'Stephanie Wolfe Murray and Jamie Byng have shown real vision at Canongate and have put Scotland on the publishing map. The company is distinctive in its diverse range of publications and has developed a reputation for works of quality and individuality, such as the Man Booker Prize-winning 'Life of Pi'.'

The Canongate collection will include not only all the publications produced, draft manuscripts, artwork and marketing material, but the University archive is also working with Canongate to ensure that the significant electronic records, including emails and texts, are included in the archive on an ongoing basis, which will provide a full record of the company and its ongoing development within the digital age.

The University will also collect an oral history of the company, conducting interviews with some of the people who've been important in the history and development of Canongate.

'The oral histories we will collect will be a valuable addition to the written records, giving personal testimony, the memories and opinions of the people involved and will document a different history to that in the official formal records, in the same way that the texts and emails will do,' said Ms Whatley.

The Canongate archive will be used for teaching and research. 'This collection has such high profile authors that it will attract attention from an international audience,' said Ms Whatley.

'Creating History - the story of Canongate Publishing’ is a free event taking place at the Dundee Literary Festival this Friday, June 25th. Those taking part include Stephanie Wolfe Murray, Jamie Byng, Alasdair Gray, Louise Welsh and Michael Faber. The event takes place in the Dalhousie Building at the University from 10 am to noon.

The Dundee Literary Festival takes place at the University of Dundee from June 23rd to 27th. For full details see:

For media enquiries contact:
Grant Hill
Press Officer
University of Dundee
Nethergate, Dundee, DD1 4HN
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