Odds and quads

This Tippa model typewriter, silver fountain pen inscribed with the letter J, carved wooden box with record-player needles, brass knuckleduster and pipes made by Allen & Wright were all found in the desk of the English novelist John Fowles (1926-2005), most famous for his 1969 novel The French Lieutenant's Woman.

May 26, 2011

Although the bulk of his manuscripts, books, half a century's worth of diaries and personal effects were acquired by the Harry Ransom Center, a humanities research facility at the University of Texas at Austin in 1991, the desk and its contents formed part of additional material supplied by his widow in 2008.

On 31 March this year, which would have been Fowles' 85th birthday, the items were put on display in the centre's Reading and Viewing Room, where they will remain for at least two years.

Also to be seen there are the desks once owned by Edgar Allan Poe and Compton MacKenzie.

A poignant evocation of Fowles' life and travels, his desk's drawers also contain two rubber bands, an optometrist's prescription card, Greek and Swedish coins, a leather dice shaker, a bag of pebbles and an ancient Tic Tac mint.

Send suggestions for this series on the treasures, oddities and curiosities owned by universities across the world to: matthew.reisz@tsleducation.com.

You've reached your article limit.

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 3 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Most Commented

James Fryer illustration (27 July 2017)

It is not Luddism to be cautious about destroying an academic publishing industry that has served us well, says Marilyn Deegan

Jeffrey Beall, associate professor and librarian at the University of Colorado Denver

Creator of controversial predatory journals blacklist says some peers are failing to warn of dangers of disreputable publishers

Kayaker and jet skiiers

Nazima Kadir’s social circle reveals a range of alternative careers for would-be scholars, and often with better rewards than academia

Hand squeezing stress ball
Working 55 hours per week, the loss of research periods, slashed pensions, increased bureaucracy, tiny budgets and declining standards have finally forced Michael Edwards out
hole in ground

‘Drastic action’ required to fix multibillion-pound shortfall in Universities Superannuation Scheme, expert warns