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Thomas Hardy plays kept in UK

21st December 2009

Culture minister Margaret Hodge has temporarily barred a collection of drama scripts of Thomas Hardy works from being exported.

The adaptations, which were written by amateur dramatic society The Hardy Players between 1908 and 1924 with input from the author himself, have been deemed as closely connected to the history and national life of the UK.

By banning the export of the collection, which comprises typescripts, miniature mock-up scenery, actors' parts, prompt copies and programmes, Ms Hodge has sought to stall for time while money is raised in a bid to keep the collection in the UK permanently.

The ruling came after the Reviewing Committee on the Export of Works of Art and Objects of Cultural Interest said it would be a 'misfortune' if the collection was taken out of the country.

Christopher Wright, a member of the committee, commented: 'This collection is closely associated with the life of a particular region, one given an enduring literary identity as Thomas Hardy's Wessex.'

Last week, the Department for Culture, Media And Sport revealed that 25 cultural items worth more than GBP 1.5 million were saved from export between May 2008 and April this year.

The objects included a manuscript journal of 17th-century English naval explorer Sir John Narbrough, nine dresses designed by the French couturier Madeleine Vionnet and a rare manuscript of Francesco Cavalli's opera Erismena.

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