Adapting South Yorkshire: a SURE project using the Hines Papers by School of English student Jessica Keen
When I received the email from Professor Sue Vice and Dr David Forrest asking for someone to complete a SURE project on Barry Hines, I had never heard of him before. I applied to work with them because I knew that this was an experience that I would not be able to receive as a part of my degree, and I wanted to be able to explore a new author. What attracted me about the project was that I would be looking at both novel and film, and that I would have a chance to visit the archives in Special Collections to examine original documents. I had visited Special Collections in my first year as a part of the Early Englishes module that I took, and before this project I did not know that I could just go in myself and view any of the documents that are held there.
For my project I focused on The Price of Coal, The Gamekeeper, and Looks and Smiles. Dave and Sue recommended these as the texts that I focus on, as they are not as widely known as others, for example A Kestrel for a Knave. My project was focused on the process of adaptation both from film to novel and vice versa, and I looked at Hines’ wider adaptation of South Yorkshire. Jacky within Special Collections was kind enough to send me the catalogue of documents, so that I could see which bits I wanted to look at. This is available to look at on the website, and was really easy to navigate. If you look through the catalogue and send an email to Special Collections stating what you would like to look at and when you will be in, they’ll then get the requested documents out for when you arrive!
On looking at the documents for all three texts it was the sheer amount of bits within the folders that fascinated me. As an English student I take it for granted that I can just open up Word and create a new document, or make alterations to an existing one. Hines drafted and re-drafted each work until he was happy with it all. Amongst the drafts there was a lot of documentation of Hines’ research, showing how he wanted his pieces to be as authentic and as accurate as possible.
It was interesting to view the different documents for each text and to see Hines’ process of writing. For example with Looks and Smiles a prominent change from draft to the final piece was that Mick’s friend Alan was going to die whilst in the army in Ireland. This was present in both screenplay and novel right up until the end, where I can only assume that Hines, Ken Loach (director) and the producer sat down and decided to change this. This meant that the focus shifted completely onto Mick and unemployment, which I found interesting in that Hines was always adapting and readapting his writing to fit with what was affecting the contemporary audience.
After having looked at each text and their corresponding documents, I was lucky enough to be given the chance to curate an exhibition of my findings outside of Special Collections. This meant that I created a leaflet of what I did for my project and what I found most interesting, so that people could read this alongside what I had chosen from Special Collections for my exhibition. As there are seven cabinets, I had two for each text and I used the last one to focus on Hines more widely.
I thoroughly enjoyed the experience of picking out the material that I wanted to use, and to set up the cabinets so that they were both informative and interesting to look at. A lot of what I used was what I personally found interesting, so for example the newspaper clippings, the notebooks Hines used, and some stills from the films. After two days of sorting out material and pinning it on to the boards and laying out different bits, my exhibition was ready. My exhibition ran for six weeks and was viewed by both members of the University, and members of the public.
This experience highlighted to me how much more you can get out of a text by looking at the original documentation, and seeing the process of writing. For my future assessments I will definitely be seeing if there is anything in the archives that I can go and have a look at, as it is something that should be taken advantage of whilst I’m at the University.
If you’ve never visited Special Collections before now is the time to! The staff know a lot about the documents that they hold, and are more than happy to help with anything, so if there’s something you’re really interested in why not take a look at the catalogue and see what you might like to view?
Adapting South Yorkshire Exhibition by Jess Keen
The Price of Coal
Looks and Smiles
A closer look at Hines