Friday 15 April 2011

Ross Thomas Week (Mark III) Interruptus: Existential Ennui to be Archived by the British Library

Well then. This announcement won't come as a huge surprise to some regular – or even irregular, in every sense – readers of Existential Ennui, but I've now received official confirmation of it, and it is a thing which I feel is exciting enough to warrant its own missive. To wit:

On Tuesday a comment popped up on this post purporting to be from the British Library. The British Library, if you've been living in a cave your entire life – or indeed if you're American (joke!) – is the UK national repository of every book, newspaper, journal, magazine and play script (not to mention sundry sound recordings, drawings and whatnot) ever printed – or at least as many of them as has been humanly possible to acquire. It holds in its collection over 150 million items from all around the world.

The comment was an invitation to participate in the British Library's web archiving programme. As the comment noted, "We select and archive sites to represent aspects of UK documentary heritage and as a result, they will remain available to researchers in the future. The British Library works closely with leading UK institutions to collect and permanently preserve the UK web, and our archive can be seen at"

Now, I'll admit I was slightly sceptical about this invitation. It had, after all, come completely out of the blue, and therefore it seemed entirely feasible to me that it could merely be a mean-spirited prank or hoax. But I emailed the Permissions Officer back as requested, and sure enough received a reply in short order, the upshot of which is that, at some point (the British Library aren't able to tell me precisely when, but it should be soon), Existential Ennui will be archived on the Library's UK Web Archive, permanently accessible whatever changes there might be to hardware and software. In short, my daft blog has been deemed historically significant and will be preserved in perpetuity.

I am, I have to say, as astonished as you probably are by this turn of events. I'm guessing it's come about because of all the bibliographical information I've been posting – publication dates, cover art credits and so forth. But it was really only around mid-2010 that I started to become more thorough in my research for the various books I blog about, and probably only around April last year that Existential Ennui began to find its focus. So it's doubly astonishing that my meandering bibliographic ramblings are to be preserved for all time (well, quite a long time, anyway – and before you ask, no, Existential Ennui isn't on the British Library site just yet; I checked).

(UPDATE, 5/5/11: It is now.)

I should point out that the British Library has archived and continues to archive thousands of websites and blogs, so it's not as if mine will be the only blog on their site. Even so, considering the millions of blogs that exist, it's nice to be included and indeed to be in such relatively rarefied company. So, to celebrate this strange honour, and to tie this post in at least tangentially to Ross Thomas Week, Mark III, here's a lovely picture of all my Ross Thomas UK first editions (with a few other editions in front of them), in order of publication:

Still a couple of Thomas novels to add to that collection, and if you've been following my Ross Thomas-collecting you might be able to spot a book I haven't blogged about yet. Unsurprisingly, it's that very book that will form the basis of the next post, as we return once more to Ross Thomas Week, Mark III...


  1. Very nice! That is some hot book collector porn right there!

  2. I have a British Library reader's card and I'm American, so there goes your crackpot theory.

  3. Heh heh, twas but a small joke. I've amended the post to make that clear. Of course Americans know what the British Library is; I was being facetious, and also stringing the the thing out a bit for dramatic effect. Allow me that at least, Ms. Eiss...

    Olman, oh hell yes, even I get hot at the sight of that collection...

  4. I know it was a joke--Americans have a sense of humour/humor too! You're still a crackpot, though.

  5. I hadn't even read the post before my first comment and now I have. Wow! Congratulations! I have to say that makes me feel great in at least two ways. One is that you heartily deserve the recognition for the excellent work you have been doing. Two is that somebody is actually aware that these books and all the work that went into them have value and should be remembered. Great work on all sides.

  6. By the way, everyone should go check out Jen's movie:

  7. ^^ Aw, thanks Olman! And you're right: it's great that the books we all love are getting the recognition they deserve. That's what it's all about, innit.