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Sassoon archive acquired by Cambridge University Library

21st December 2009

Cambridge University Library has secured the personal archive of war poet Siegfried Sassoon after a six-month campaign.

The collection, which includes the poet's war diaries, childhood notebooks and post-war journals, were purchased after GBP 1.25 million was raised through donations from charitable groups, grant-awarding bodies and members of the public.

Sebastian Faulks, whose critically-acclaimed novel Birdsong looks at soldiers' experiences in the First World War and its aftermath, said the library's acquisition of the writings is a 'major coup' and will help the UK's literature and history scholars.

Former Poet Laureate Sir Andrew Motion added: 'As a memoirist and as a poet, Sassoon occupies a unique place in the history of writing in English.

'The Sassoon archive that has been acquired by the university library is of the greatest importance, nationally and internationally.'

Staff from the library will now conserve, sort and catalogue the writings before an exhibition combining the archive with other items from the university's Sassoon collection opens in July 2010.

In November, Ancestry.co.uk and the National Archives published the full service records of more than two million British soldiers who served in the First World War, including those of flamboyant playwright Noel Coward and famous Sherlock Holmes actor Basil Rathbone.

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