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Legacies creating legacies: Preserving the past for future generations

Valerie Soar has decided to leave a gift in her will to the King’s Libraries and Collections. Her generosity will help catalogue and maintain the Eric Mottram Archive, so that it might serve the academic world for years to come.

Professor Mottram pioneered the study of American literature in the UK. He was an academic, poet, critic, editor and educator, who met several key Beat Generation artists, including William Carlos Williams and Allen Ginsberg, and had a friendship with William S Burroughs.

Eric Mottram

Eric Mottram dedicated his life to academia, serving as a lecturer in English and American Literature at King’s from 1960, before co-founding the Institute of United States Studies here just three years later.

Through his significant involvement, King’s became an important site for the British Poetry Revival. Valerie is keen to ensure that this legacy and its location at King’s continues for generations to come.

Giving the gift of time

Valerie has not only supported the Eric Mottram Archive, but she also volunteers there. Giving time is just as important to Valerie, ‘to make sure it’s presented at its best and is available to researchers, scholars and students’ all over the world.’

Valerie first worked on Professor Mottram’s archive in the late 1990s when his family gifted it to King’s. She had known him for around 20 years herself, giving her the ability to bring something unique and personal to the archive. It includes hundreds of cassette tapes of readings and interviews, plus most of his graduate lectures. Not to mention wonderful photographs – formal and informal – artworks and posters!

Valerie returned to the archive five years ago to continue the mammoth task of organising a collection that has the potential to influence, inspire and support researchers today.

As Valerie puts it, ‘This is the most amazing research source, rich in so many areas of 20th-century American and British poetry and literature, correspondence between Eric and virtually every poet of note in that period.’

A legacy gift has the power to forge new pathways and impact on the future, while honouring a life’s work. Legacies have the power to bring like-minded people together through time. Legacy donors can help shape the future of research, while supporting early-career researchers.– Valerie Soar

Preserving history

Valerie’s efforts to honour the significant figure of Eric and maintain this invaluable resource are motivated entirely by her interest in his life and works.

Archives are an important source for researchers and for students working on projects towards their degrees. However, they also show, especially for students, that their interest in the subject didn’t come from nowhere, but from a long line of scholars working in the area. The current students are continuing that line into the future.

By maintaining this material, she is helping us to carry out our mission to serve the world’s academic community for years to come.

To find out more, please request our gift in wills guide.

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