A Generous Donation


Source of Photo:

By Allan Warren (own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons


In 2008, playwright Alan Bennett, author of The Madness of George III, donated his papers to the Bodlean Library of Oxford University in England. Such a donation is a boon to scholarship, and it is impressive that Mr. Bennett donated his papers rather than sold them. In an opinion piece for the British newspaper Guardian, Max Hastings wrote that “Bennett’s gesture in promising his archive free to the Bodleian bucks the trend among British writers. Most, when offered large sums by rich American institutions, swiftly bank the cheques, in the manner of Salman Rushdie. If British universities want authors’ papers, they must bid for them, just as British galleries have to raise huge sums to prevent the export of aristocratically owned Old Masters.” Mr. Hastings hopes that other British authors will follow Mr. Bennett’s lead; indeed, he hopes that the generous donation will encourage Britons in general to be more generous. Mr. Hastings wrote, “His gift to the Bodleian is a noble gesture, and there are not many of them around. If it inspires his peers, and indeed the rest of us, to behave just a little more generously in our own lives, then it will achieve much more than provide a treasure trove for literary scholars.”

For Further Information: Max Hastings: “It makes us all feel better to see a good man doing something wholly benign.” Guardian (UK). 26 October 2008


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