On a sunny afternoon in June the University Of Stirling presented the writer Patrick McGrath with an honorary degree in recognition of his outstanding support for research and learning at Stirling. In 2015 Patrick deposited his literary papers with the University Archives, a fantastic resource for researchers of contemporary fiction, and in particular the students of the university’s MLitt course on The Gothic Imagination.
The University Archives was delighted to welcome Patrick on the morning of his graduation and show him how his papers are being cared for at the university, the visit captured in this lovely video.
Later, at the afternoon’s graduation ceremony Patrick’s laureation was given by our University Archivist, Karl Magee. The speech, reproduced below, provides further information on Patrick’s work as an acclaimed novelist and the importance of his literary archive:
Laureation presenting Patrick McGrath for the award of Honorary Degree of Doctor of the University Of Stirling (28 June 2018):
Chancellor, Principal, Members of the University, Graduands, Ladies and Gentlemen:
It is an honour to introduce Patrick McGrath today, a critically acclaimed novelist whose work consistently stages and interrogates both psychopathology and psychiatry. His novels include The Grotesque, Spider and Asylum. His most recent novel The Wardrobe Mistress was published last year. Patrick grew up in the grounds of Broadmoor Hospital where his father was the medical superintendent. Well-versed in theories of psychiatry and psychoanalysis Patrick’s works are often narrated by psychiatrists, or those suffering from mental ill health themselves. He is a writer who is fascinated by the human mind and by those spaces where both trauma and healing may take place such as the institutionalized asylum, the analyst’s office, or even the family home.
In 2015 Patrick deposited his literary archive with the University of Stirling Archives. The University runs a highly regarded MLitt course on ‘The Gothic Imagination’ which teaches his work and Patrick was keen for his archive to go to an institution where the material would be of direct benefit to academics and students.
The archive provides a comprehensive record of the author’s creative process from rough writing notebooks, to early drafts of novels, to proofs and published editions and on through promotional material, press cuttings of reviews, correspondence with publishers and material relating to film adaptations of his work. The collection will continue to grow as Patrick is committed to continuing his relationship with the University of Stirling. Indeed the manuscripts and drafts of his most recent novel have already been transferred to the archive.
The deposit by Patrick of his literary archive with the University is an act of great generosity and commitment to academic research. In doing so Patrick has chosen to support a university which teaches Gothic fiction – the critical field in which his work is often read and considered – at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels.
Over the last few years our students have gained a unique opportunity to work with the archives of a contemporary writer. They have assisted the archives team in the sorting, arrangement and cataloguing of the collection, with a number of students going on to use the archive as the subject of their academic research. Throughout this process the University Archives has benefited from Patrick’s continued support and engagement, creating a stimulating research environment for everyone involved in the project.
This award of an Honorary Degree recognises Patrick’s support for the inclusive and ambitious academic aims of the University of Stirling. He is a writer whose outlook particularly suits Stirling’s principles and goals as he strives endlessly to understand the human mind and the human condition. This is evident in his many meditations upon Broadmoor Hospital in London, this work complementing our NHS Forth Valley Archive which includes the historical records of a number of local institutions including the old Stirling District Asylum.
Patrick’s work is of global importance, as can be seen in the international editions of his work which have been translated into many languages present in the collection, and his standing amongst contemporary critics of Gothic literature is of the very highest calibre.
Patrick’s mother Helen dreamed of opening a bookshop in Stirling. While she never fulfilled this dream I am delighted that we have welcomed her son to the city to formally recognise his most generous gift to the university.
In the name and by the authority of the Academic Council, I present to you for the Honorary Degree of Doctor of the University, Patrick McGrath.
For the last three months, I have been a Wikipedian-In-Residence at the University of Stirling Archives. The last few weeks of the project have flown in, and I have been continuing to edit and create new articles for the collections in the archive.
In the last few weeks, my focus has been on Sam Black, Peter Mackay and the William Simpson Asylum which each now have an article on Wikipedia dedicated to them. The Peter Heatly and Norman McLaren articles had time dedicated to adding more information to them as well.
I have been uploading images from the Peter Mackay Collection on to Wikimedia Commons, it has been fascinating looking through the photos of Peter’s life in Africa, and I hope other people will enjoy looking at them as well. I also uploaded images from the University of Stirling Collection, an image of Forsyth Hardy and some images for Howietoun Fishery.
I worked on a #DYK (Did You Know) on Twitter to show the wonderful programs from the Edinburgh International Film Festival (EIFF) that the archive holds, but also give some interesting facts about the EIFF.
It has been a wonderful experience working with the archive, I have enjoyed learning how to add articles to Wikipedia and hope to continue to add or edit pages in the future.
Lucy Rodger is completing a Masters in Environment, Heritage and Policy at the University of Stirling.