Friday, September 14, 2007

Scots Downplay Manchester's Byron Centre

I really enjoy the book coverage in The Scotsman, and a short bit in today's Tim Cornwell piece is exactly why. Cornwell's discussing the newly-created Byron Centre at the University of Manchester, which he says has "brought a sniffy response from experts associated with the Murray Archive, now installed in the National Library of Scotland. 'He had nothing ever to do with Manchester,' says one, adding it was time Scotland claimed 'that well known poet of Aberdeen' for its own." That's just the first paragraph.

Cornwell continues by noting the massive Byron holdings in the John Murray Archive, adding "The upstart Byron Centre in Manchester, with a staff of three scholars, aims to correct 'years of disregard' of Byron as an 'over-sexed Regency dandy.'

And then, the final twist: "So far the Manchester collection includes a small handbag made by Byron's childhood love, Mary Chaworth, thirty years of writings from an amateur British researcher, and a bust by a Greek sculptor."

Ouch. Talk about a sniffy response. I hope those actually involved with the respective archives are a bit more amiable toward each other.