Home / People / #NationalTreasure: British Library acquires Hanif Kureishi archives for £100,000

#NationalTreasure: British Library acquires Hanif Kureishi archives for £100,000

The British Library has acquired the priceless personal archives of celebrated British-Pakistani novelist, playwright, screenwriter and filmmaker Hanif Kureishi for an estimated £100,000.

The archive includes drafts of his acclaimed novels ‘The Buddha of Suburbia’ and ‘The Black Album’, the original screenplay for ‘My Beautiful Launderette’ as well as far more intriguing documents such as personal diaries and notebooks stretching back more than four decades.

One remarkably perceptive diary entry from when the South London-born Kureishi was just 15 notes: “Perhaps a great failing in life is due to wasting time. 

Instead of spending a few minutes here and there on useless things it would be better if (one) spend all one’s spare time engrossed in one morally profitable aim.”

Kureishi, 59, joins other British writers such as Andrew Motion and Graham Swift whose works have been taken over by the British Library for the benefit of researchers, budding writers and members of the public.

The author said he was “thrilled” that the British Library will look after his archive.  He told the Guardian: “I’m a British writer and my subject, really, is Britain so it seemed important it was here rather than anywhere else.  I also wanted it to be here for my kids so if they ever take any interest in my work – which they don’t obviously now – they can come in and see the stuff.”

Rachel Foss, Lead Curator of Modern Literary Manuscripts at the British Library, said: “Hanif Kureishi is one of the most radical and challenging voices in contemporary literature.

This archive will play a crucial role in developing critical understanding of his life and work and represents a resource of major international significance.”

More material will be added to the archive in the coming years, including drafts and manuscripts of his eagerly anticipated new novel, ‘The Final Word’, a fictionalized account of a young writer composing a book about a well-known Indian author.

Whilst Kureishi has flatly denied it, rumour has it that ‘The Final Word’ is inspired by Patrick French’s grimly revealing biography of Nobel Prize winning author V S Naipaul.

The first segments of the archive will go on public display beginning 08 March whilst Kureishi will also headline the British Library’s Spring Festival which gets underway 29 March with an event exploring Kureishi’s career in film titled ‘My Beautiful Film Career’.

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