The threat to an unique archive of papers from Arthur Machen, the great Welsh writer of weird fiction, posed by cuts at Newport City Council appears to have released a growing wave of protest, progressing from local news reports to a BBC News item about the issue. The Friends of Arthur Machen, founded to commemorate and study the writer but now the focus of the campaign to protect the Machen archive held in Newport Art Gallery and Library, now numbers Alan Moore among its supporters, and is chaired by Ray Russell, founder of the independent British publisher Tartarus Press.

The Machen papers are at risk from a plan to close the current Library building and relocate its contents. Council spokespeople have indicated that no definite plans have been made yet about the disposition of the archive, but this in itself has given little comfort to the protestors, who have called for the archive to be kept together and open to the public, and further developed.

Whether all this pressure will do anything to protect the archive in the long term is still an open question. The UK central government’s nominally positive response to the Sieghart report on the significance of UK libraries has not included much in the way of actual funding for local libraries, and for as long as this is not provided, and absent plans for its future, the threat to the Machen archive remains open.


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