Saturday, December 13, 2014

ARTHUR MACHEN COLLECTION AT RISK


The public library at Newport, Gwent, houses a splendid Arthur Machen collection, including rare items, some donated by his admirers, friends and family over the years. It is the best public collection of his work in the UK, and an argument can be made for its international significance. The library is now under threat of closure. The local council are considering a plan to replace it with a few much smaller local hubs.

The Friends of Arthur Machen literary society is very concerned about this and is joining the campaign against the closure. Please add your voice to those urging the local council to protect the library and collection. A national and international response may help them rethink plans or at least safeguard the collection.

A local consultation is under way. No final decisions have yet been made either about the Library or the Arthur Machen collection, but the danger is that it may not be accessible in the future to either scholars or the general public. The worst case might even be that it is sold.

Please consider following this link to Newport City Council’s online consultation document. The first page asks where in Newport you live, but you don't have to fill this part in and can go to the second page where you can leave comments.

You may wish to explain that the Machen collection is of national and international importance. Do let them know where you are in the world, and how vital it is for Newport to continue to make this internationally important collection accessible to literary scholars and the general public.

You may also wish to write courteously to the leader of Newport City Council, Bob Bright:

Bob Bright
Leader of Newport City Council
80 Allt-yr-yn Road
Newport
South Wales, NP20 5EF

Or via this electronic form (scroll down to view).

Thank you for your support for this priceless collection devoted to one of the towering figures of fantastic literature.

Mark Valentine

12 comments:

  1. Thank you for bringing this to our attention. I have completed the survey.

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  2. Thank you, that's appreciated.

    Mark

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  3. Seriously, you should contact Stephen King. he is a great admirer of Arthur Machen and has lauded him in his short story collection 'Just After Sunset' and more recently, in his new novel 'Revival'.

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  4. Thanks, Jason. Yes, we do have in mind rallying eminent names if needed. Mark

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  5. I,ve commented. Anything else I can do get in touch.

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  6. Attached, my submission to the survey:
    ***
    I am writing to advise that the Arthur Machen collection should be preserved at a single site. The Machen collection is of international significance, given Machen's global importance to modern literary and popular fiction. Machen's influence on US writer H.P. Lovecraft alone has borne fruit in a multi-billion dollar industry based upon 20th and 21st century literature, particularly in science fiction, fantasy and horror genres.

    I write from Canberra in Australia, perhaps the furthest one can be from Newport and remain on the same planet. However, Arthur Machen works are part of our shared literary history. Machen explored themes of alienation, disconnection and dissociation that bore fruit in the postcolonial literature of the former British colonies and the United States.

    The further uptake of these genres in film, radio, television, graphic novel and online media makes preservation of the Machen collection essential for future literary analysis and cultural history. Breaking up the collection, or worse the sale of the collection, would place it beyond the reach of scholars, writers and the general public.

    My thanks in advance for considering my proposal.

    Yours faithfully

    Michael Barry
    Canberra, Australia

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  7. Thank you, Michael, it's good to have support from Australia too. This all helps to show that Machen has international stature.

    Mark

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    1. My note to the Newport council is not nearly as eloquent as as Michael's, but perhaps it will add to a groundswell nonetheless:

      My name is Thomas Miller and I live in Southern California USA. The current Newport public library houses many memorable artifacts of Arthur Machen. Arthur Machen was a giant in the field of fantasy fiction and his writings have been an inspiration to me for 40 years. In fact, I traveled to Wales five years ago specifically to visit the places that were important to Machen. He has influenced several generations of up-and-coming writers worldwide--authors such as Stephen King, Brian Lumley, Ramsey Campbell, H.P. Lovecraft, and Jorge Luis Borges. His stature is roughly equivalent to Edgar Allan Poe in America. At all costs, The Arthur Machen Collection must be preserved. The world would be a much poorer and sadder place if Arthur Machen's memory was allowed to fade away, and if those responsible for preserving the artifacts of his life no longer have the verve to continue to do so. Machen is a towering literary figure of international importance. The Arthur Machen Collection must, please, be preserved.
      Sincerely,
      Thomas K. Miller
      Redlands, CA 92375
      USA

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  8. Jebus...
    I grew up in Newport and the council has *always* hated the heritage and art of the town. This is the same place that pulled down a castle to build a road. That library is a vital part of the cultural landscape of Newport (the same building also houses the museum and the art gallery) and without them Newport will be little more than chain discount retailers.

    God damn this makes me angry. >:(

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  9. I commented:
    The library/museum/art gallery building in the centre of Newport is the cultural hub of the entire city. It is a central point where people from all across the city can access the rich cultural heritage of the city. The central library also houses the Arthur Machen collection. Arthur Machen was is one of the most celebrated writers of supernatural tales, as lauded as the great M.R. James, and has had an immense impact on global literature, art, and cinema. Having the Machen collection at the heart of Newport places the city firmly on the world literary stage. It is vital that Newport preserves and promotes its culture and heritage and having a central hub is essential for the city to do so.

    Please, please, please keep the library open.

    The Machen collection is an internationally important resource and so I'm sure that the council will be able to find funding to make up for the supposed savings. If the council is willing that is.

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  10. Thanks, both, for your comments. Mark

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