Harry Ransom CenterThe University of Texas at Austin

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Sebastian Barry

What do you think about the fact that the Harry Ransom Center is home to your works?

There is a brand of high romance attached to it. Not only that the Harry Ransom Center took the boxes, some of which material had been floating around various houses since the mid seventies, but that now nigh on thirty years of work nests in the one place, in great safety. As safe as houses (the centre has many mansions). It's a source of pride, private pride, the sort of pride that keeps you going when work is staring back at you, as if you were an interloper in the chair.

When visiting the Ransom Center's website what would you want to explore?

Probably a different marvel each time. I was scrolling down the names and saw the papers of AJ Leventhal, a friend of Samuel Beckett's. I was immediately back in Paris in 1978, a very young and foolish writer of 23. Con was a friend of my father's, so he invited me and my girlfriend to dinner.

We didn't have a bean, and had been living off vegetables from the market. But we bought a dress for my girlfriend and a box of strawberry pastries for Con and his wife. We were broke for a month, but content.

Another time, scrolling down, and there's the sacred, dangerous, darkened, brightened name of Hemingway.

If someone isn't entirely familiar with your work where would you suggest that they begin?

You might try a play called The Steward of Christendom, or a novel called A Long Long Way.

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Sebastian Barry and Joan Sibley

During a visit in 2006, Sebastian Barry looks over Jean Cocteau's address book, part of the Carlton Lake collection, with Joan Sibley, who oversees archiving and cataloging at the Ransom Center.

Writers Reflect
Additional Information

Listen to Sebastian Barry read from The Secret Scripture.

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Learn more about Barry's 2006 visit to the Ransom Center.

Read Article

View photos from Barry's visit.

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Listen to audio from Barry's visit.

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Read a brief interview with Barry.

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Other Writers Reflect

Sebastian Barry

Jim Crace

Alan Furst

Tim O'Brien