Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Foraging through Fickling’s Archive Part 2

Our volunteer Grace continues her exploration of our David Fickling Collection. If you haven’t seen it yet, take a look at her first blog here

Next week is The National Archives Explore your Archive Week.  So come explore our archives and join in the #exploreachives conversation.  Join us on Twitterand Instagram using the handle @7stories and on Facebook by searching for 'Seven Stories, National Centre for Children's Books'.


Part 2

Delving deeper into the boxes this week I came across a pile of papers which I personally thought were a bit boring – some of Fickling’s financial documents. Nothing major just a few bits of correspondence between illustrator and publisher with some figures nestled in there. I was a bit dismissive, these were not as exciting as the original material with lovely scribbles all over it, so I just sorted it into a box and labelled it. However later I discussed this with my tutor, just an off-the-cuff comment, and she illuminated how valuable this information can be. Apparently when it comes to actual facts and figures about who was paid what, how many books were published at the time and anything else of that nature, they are really hard to get hold of. As a researcher you need this kind of information to back up your claims, or to shed light on a particular book or author. Not so boring!

Letters, notebook and floppy discs from David Fickling's correspondence files
The day continued as before, I have probably enjoyed the rifling through letters, comments by editors, ideas by authors and illustrators a bit too much. I feel very nosy! I found some of the John Boyne The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas drafts and ideas for screenplay. I think it is really interesting to see the agent promoting John Boyne as an unknown author to the publishers – seeing how the dialogue works between the agent and publisher, how they advertise their client.  I found it quite funny to read the agent’s positivity about Boyne’s distressing story! This story was marketed at children and yet contains ideas and themes that are considered by many as controversial. However, it is still undeniably a highly successful book and now a film too. All of this is in post-it notes, letters and emails between all the parties, are all part of the story behind the story. 

- Grace Owens


Seven Stories was able to support the acquisition of David Fickling's archive through support from a Heritage Lottery Fund ‘Collecting Cultures’ grant. This has been awarded to Seven Stories in recognition of the museum’s national role in telling a comprehensive story of modern British children’s literature. For more information on our HLF Collecting Cultures project see: http://www.sevenstories.org.uk/news/latestnews/hlf.




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