The world-renowned John Murray Archive is on its way to Scotland. Today the Heritage Lottery Fund announced its decision to contribute £17.7 million towards the National Library of Scotland's bid to buy the literary treasure trove and keep this important collection in the UK.
The archive - containing more than 150,000 items - includes private letters, manuscripts and other correspondence from Jane Austen, Lord Byron, Sir Walter Scott, David Livingstone, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Edith Wharton, among others. Although independently valued at £45 million, the collection has been offered to the Library for a reduced price of £31.2m. With the Scottish Executive contributing £6.5m initially, followed by a further £1.8m, this leaves the balance of £6.5m as the Library's own fundraising target.
National Librarian Martyn Wade described the HLF decision as wonderful news for Scotland and for the Library. 'It is fantastic to secure such a unique and important collection for Scotland,' he said. 'We will now sit down with all interested parties and draw up a timetable for bringing the archive to Scotland and ensure it is available for everyone to use and enjoy.
'It is entirely fitting that the archive will be housed in Edinburgh, the first UNESCO World City of Literature, and there is no doubt that it will enhance Scotland's cultural reputation both at home and overseas.'
John R Murray, current head of the Murray family, said today: 'I am delighted by the generosity of the Heritage Lottery Fund that enables the John Murray Archives to be acquired by the National Library of Scotland. All the money from the Heritage Lottery Fund will go into the Murray Charitable Trust with the purpose of supporting the archives for years to come and will also support the other national libraries in the acquisition of important items. In addition it will enable the Murray family to give help to charities about which they feel passionately.'
26 January 2005