The Foundation

Reading Room

As art is a mirror of oneself and oneself is one’s life, so it is right to want to know about the life. – Anthony Burgess

in this section

Collections, acquisitions and disposals policy:

Collection, Acquisition and Disposal Policy


The collection of the International Anthony Burgess Foundation is at the core of its charitable mission to encourage and support engagement with all aspects of the life and work of Anthony Burgess among the widest possible audiences.

The purpose of this policy is to provide guidance on the content of the Burgess Foundation’s collection and its aims in collection management along with details of the material that it seeks to acquire and on how such material may be donated and accessed. It forms part of a broad framework of policies and procedures developed and implemented by the Burgess Foundation to govern and inform its approach to collection management. It operates alongside the following:

  • Collection Access Policy
  • Collection Care and Conservation Strategy
  • Digitisation Strategy
  • Reading Room guidelines and user-registration procedures, including guidance on handling, data protection and self-service photography
  • Facilities Report
  • Loan and Gift Agreements

Overview of the Collection

The Burgess Foundation cares for a mixed collection of library and archive material and a range of artefacts from Burgess’s various houses. The collection primarily dates from 1934 onwards and contains material in a wide variety of media: paper, photographic, audio, audio-visual and digital.

Highlights of the collection include:

An extensive book collection of more than 8000 review copies and reference books from Burgess’s private library, including important annotated and proof copies of contemporary novels; a collection of dictionaries and books on linguistics, drama and theatre, music, and poetry. The general book collection includes titles in Russian, French, Italian, Spanish and German, indicating the breadth of Burgess’s interests.

120 linear metres of archive material, including

  • extensive research materials for novels and other projects
  • family photographs and related personal items, including some relating to pre-war Manchester, wartime in Gibraltar (1943-1946), and colonial Malaya and Brunei (1954-1959)
  • an extensive audio collection, including commercial recordings of music and of spoken word (primarily on audio-cassette and vinyl) owned by Burgess and his family; recordings of public lectures and seminars by Burgess; and unique home-recordings of Burgess and his family in conversation, playing instruments, reciting poetry and other literature, or discussing professional projects with other artists with whom they were collaborating
  • audio-visual material, including rare interviews and home videos
  • extensive business and legal correspondence, including book, theatre and film contracts and correspondence with publishers, literary agents and lawyers, covering the period 1955-2007
  • correspondence between Burgess and other notable writers and artists, including Angela Carter, Olivia Manning, Adrienne Rich, Erica Jong, Kingsley Amis, Robert Conquest, Graham Greene, Anthony Powell, Stanley Kubrick, Thomas Pynchon, Lord Grade, Michael Powell, Eric Partridge, Larry Adler, Jean Queval, Jacques Attali and Benny Hill
  • drafts and manuscripts of major novels and plays, including Earthly PowersThe Pianoplayersand Napoleon Symphony
  • manuscript scores for orchestra, chamber, and other ensembles, many of which have never been performed
  • a considerable quantity of unpublished material, including non-fiction books, journalism, plays and film scripts
  • papers and correspondence relating to Liana Burgess’s work as literary agent and Italian translator (of Thomas Pynchon, Lawrence Durrell and Anthony Burgess) between 1952 and 2007

A collection of paintings, engravings, furniture, typewriters, musical instruments, medals, rugs and other objects from Burgess’s houses in Bracciano, London, Lugano and Monaco.

Aims and Objectives in Collection Management

The Burgess Foundation aims to

  • catalogue the collection according to professional standards and provide online access to the catalogue
  • extend access to the collection by making it available (where appropriate) for public consultation in a designated Reading Room and online through selective digitisation
  • further promote awareness and use of the collection through exhibitions, lectures, special events, tours and publications
  • answer enquiries relating to the collection
  • develop the range and depth of the collection by acquiring material in line with its acquisition policy
  • act as a responsible custodian of the collection by ensuring it is managed and preserved effectively
  • ensure that those records created by, or relating to the work of the Burgess Foundation, which are deemed to have lasting legal, evidential, historical, fiscal and administrative value are identified for transfer to its archive

Acquisition Policy

The Burgess Foundation seeks to extend and develop its collection by acquiring material that:

  • complements and enhances its existing collection and provides a greater knowledge of Anthony Burgess’s life and work;
  • helps researchers to better understand and interpret material within the collection;
  • contributes to and enhances the current work of the Burgess Foundation and supports its mission

In assessing material for acquisition, a number of specific exceptions apply to our acquisition policy:

  • material which duplicates current holdings, or which is so similar as to not justify its inclusion. Exceptions will be made for items which are considered to be of sufficient significance to the Foundation’s holdings.
  • items which are in such a poor physical condition as to prohibit public access to them and where the cost of undertaking the necessary conservation treatment is disproportionate to their historical value.

The Burgess Foundation continues to benefit from generous donations of individual items and collections that fall within the scope of this policy. From time to time the Board of Trustees may also make funds available for the purchase of material which, in its view, meets these criteria.

Guidelines for Gifts, Donations and Bequests

In order to protect the rights of the donor and the integrity of the collection, the Burgess Foundation is pleased to accept gifts, donations and bequests on the following conditions:

  • the donor is authorised to transfer title to the material;
  • the donor signs a gift agreement detailing the content, extent and specific terms and conditions of the donation;
  • donations, gifts and bequests become the property of the Burgess Foundation;
  • all material is appraised in detail before it can be recommended for long-term preservation. Material which is judged to be ephemeral will be returned to the donor, transferred to a more appropriate place of deposit, or disposed of, in accordance with the appropriate gift agreement, where such agreements are in place.


The Burgess Foundation is keen to encourage and facilitate access to its collection among a wide variety of users in accordance with its Collection Access Policy. Material is made available to researchers in a designated Reading Room and the Burgess Foundation also offers a range of special events and exhibitions throughout the year.

Although the Burgess Foundation is keen to promote access to its holdings, certain records may be unavailable for research or other purposes due to the nature, content, or physical condition of the material. Examples may include records which have not been catalogued or numbered; those which are in a fragile state; and those to which closure periods have been applied in consultation with their donor, or in consideration of the sensitive information they contain. It may also be necessary to periodically withdraw material from public use for display reasons.

In certain circumstances, special access arrangements may be put in place to facilitate access to uncatalogued material in consultation with the Archivist and following written application to the Burgess Foundation’s Director.


Material is acquired on the basis that it will become part of the Burgess Foundation’s long-term holdings and there is a strong presumption against de-accession. However, the Burgess Foundation reserves the right to conduct a periodic review of its collection, with reference to the Burgess Foundation’s mission and Collection Policy and, where necessary, to recommend material for transfer (to another institution), return to the donor, or disposal, with reference to the Board of Trustees and in accordance with the relevant gift agreement. Conditions where such recommendations may be made include duplicate material, damaged items, or items which do not meet the acquisition policy.


This policy will be reviewed annually. Last updated January 2018.