Write Cut Rewrite

About the exhibition

Write, Cut, Rewrite is an exhibition dedicated to the creative importance of editing in literature, often referred to as ‘killing your darlings’.

Often, in the attempt to find the perfect form, the author cuts more words than the ones that are eventually published, and one might expect these discarded fragments to end up in waste-paper baskets and disappear. But many are preserved in libraries and archives, a testament to the importance of this form of creative undoing in the writing process.

The exhibition offers a peek behind the scenes into the writers’ workshops, drawing upon the Bodleian Libraries’ unparalleled collection of modern manuscripts from the 18th century to today, to reveal little-known literary revelations. It features abandoned works, such as Jane Austen’s The Watsons, and cases of censorship, such as Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot. It also touches on the revisions and rewritings of famous books, offering a unique chance to look over the shoulder of literary greats at the moment of creation.

Highlights include discarded ideas, fundamental changes, deletions, additions, notes and scribbles from great authors such as Mary and Percy Shelley, Jane Austen, James Joyce, Raymond Chandler, Ian Fleming, Samuel Beckett, and John le Carré.


This exhibition is curated by Dirk Van Hulle, Professor of Bibliography and Modern Book History at the University of Oxford; and Mark Nixon, Professor of Modern Literature and Beckett Studies at the University of Reading.

Related links

Press & media enquiries