Treasure trove of modernist novelist to be opened up at event on campus

The archive of May Sinclair (1863-1946) - the first writer to use the phrase ‘stream of consciousness’ to describe modernist writing - will be opened up at a workshop on campus next week.

The event will be the first in a number of workshops which sees the School of English’s Centre for Modernist Studies open up the modernist archives held in University’s Special Collections at The Keep.

Dr Helen Tyson , Co-Director, with Dr Hope Wolf, of the Centre for Modernist Studies, said: “May Sinclair is a fascinating figure.

"Alongside twenty-one novels, Sinclair also published poetry, short stories, two books on idealist philosophy, a book on the Brontės, as well as pamphlets for the suffrage movement, psychoanalytic papers, and literary criticism promoting the modernist writing of Dorothy Richardson, T. S. Eliot, and H.D.

"One of Sigmund Freud’s earliest British readers, Sinclair was also on the board of one of the first psychotherapeutic clinics in Britain. In the first weeks of World War One, Sinclair joined an ambulance unit put together by staff at the Medico-Psychological Clinic and travelled to Belgium, an experience she described in her published account, A Journal of Impressions in Belgium (1915).

“Although her work has been neglected until recent years, Sinclair was at the centre of the explosion of literary and artistic experiment that we now call modernism, while also bearing witness to the radical social and political upheavals of the early-twentieth century: feminism, psychoanalysis, and the First World War.”

The archive of the writer will be explored during an interactive workshop led by Dr Rebecca Bowler , Lecturer at Keele University and Dr Claire Drewery , Senior Lecturer at Sheffield Hallam University; both general editors of the new Edinburgh Critical Editions of the Works of May Sinclair .

“We’re delighted to welcome two leading Sinclair scholars, and editors of the forthcoming Edinburgh Critical Editions of the Works of May Sinclair, to share their insights into the remarkable collection of May Sinclair’s papers held at the University of Sussex Special Collections. The workshop will examine the manuscripts and typescripts of two short stories by Sinclair, while also allowing participants the opportunity to look at signed first editions of Sinclair’s books as well as other manuscripts and drafts.”

‘May Sinclair’s Manuscript Drafts and the Difficulties of Scholarly Editing’ will take place on Wednesday 8 th May from 10am-midday in Room 4 of the Language Learning Centre in Arts A. All are welcome to attend. Please email moderniststudies [at] (p) uk to receive a copy of the recommended (although not required) reading.

The Centre for Modernist studies regularly hosts events within Sussex and in collaboration with external organisations on modernist themes, and will hold a yearly workshop based on a modernist archive accessible to Sussex students and staff. Please get in contact with moderniststudies@sussex if you would be interested in running a future event with this interdisciplinary Centre.

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By: Stephanie Allen
Last updated: Friday, 3 May 2019

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