Stephen Cleary

Image of Stephen Cleary
Lead Curator, Literary and Creative Recordings
Drama, literature

Steve has worked for the British Library since 1994 and has been Lead Curator, Drama and Literature Recordings, since 2003, taking on an expanded role from April 2015. 

The Drama and Literature Recordings department collects and makes accessible documentary recordings of literary readings, drama, and other non-musical performance in Britain, together with recordings of ancillary material such as interviews and discussions. 

In addition to a wide-ranging location recording programme, poetry readings and interviews with poets are regularly recorded in the British Library's own studio. 

Steve was Lead Curator of the British Library exhibition 'Listen: 140 Years of Recorded Sound', which ran from 6 October 2017 to 13 May 2018. A slimmed-down version of the exhibition opened at Pingshan Library, China, 20 August 2021. This ran until 20 February 2022.

Steve is a member of the board of the Poetry Archive. He was Vice-Chair and Secretary of the Board of Directors of the Live Art Development Agency from October 2008 to Jan 2020.


Articles / chapters in books

  • 'Plugging the Gaps: Documentation of Fringe Theatre at the British Library', Les convergences entre passe et futur dans les collections des arts du spectacle / Connecting Points: Performing Arts Collections Uniting Past and Future; Editors: Helen Baer, Claudia Blank, Kristy Davis, Andrea Hauer and Nicole Leclercq, directed by Nicole Leclercq; (Brussels: P.I.E. Peter Lang, 2014) pp. 83-89
  • 'Cataloguing The Riots', ARC (Taunton); August 2013, no. 288, pp. 30-32
  • 'Audiovisual theatre: past, present, future', Viewfinder (London); June 2011, no. 83, pp. 6-7
  • 'Speech recordings at the British Library: digitization and access', Convergence: the International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies (London); 2010, vol. 16, no. 1, pp. 53-56
  • 'Audio and Video Documentation of Performance at the British Library, 1963-2008', Capter l'essence du spectacle / Capturing the Essence of Performance; Editors: Nicole Leclercq, Laurent Rossion and Alan R. Jones; (Brussels, P.I.E. Peter Lang, 2010) pp. 117-123

British Library exhibitions

  • LISTEN: The Story of Recorded Sound (20 August 2021 to 20 February 2022 at Pingshan Lbrary, China)
  • Listen: 140 Years of Recorded Sound (6 October 2017 to 13 May 2018 at the British Library): with Eva del Rey and Paul Wilson
  • Punk 1976-78 (13 May to 2 October 2016 at the British Library; 3 December 2016 to 26 February 2017 at Sunderland Museum & Library; 3 November 2018 to 3 March 2019 at Liverpool Central Library): with Andy Linehan (British Library) and Prof. Colin Fallows (Liverpool John Moores University)
  • On the Road: Jack Kerouac's Manuscript Scroll (4 October to 27 December 2012): audio curator
  • Writing Britain (11 May to 25 September 2012): audio curation, with Eva del Rey
  • The Sound and the Fury (3 Feb to 31 December 2009)

Curation of British Library audio CDs / CD sets

  • The Spoken Word: Laurie Lee (2014)
  • The Spoken Word: Irish Writers and Poets (2013)
  • Short Stories: Volume 2 (2013)
  • The Spoken Word: William S Burroughs and Brion Gysin (2012)
  • The Spoken Word: Travel Writers (2012)
  • Shakespeare's Original Pronunciation (2012)
  • Short Stories (2011)
  • The Spoken Word: American Poets (2010)
  • The Spoken Word: British Poets (2010)
  • The Spoken Word: Stevie Smith (2009)
  • The Spoken Word: Bob Cobbing (2009)
  • The Spoken Word: American Writers (2008)
  • The Spoken Word: British Writers (2008)
  • The Spoken Word: Evelyn Waugh (2008)
  • The Spoken Word: Edith Sitwell (2008)
  • The Spoken Word: George Barker (2008)
  • The Spoken Word: Graham Greene (2007)
  • Works for Radio: Samuel Beckett (2006)

Collection guides

Drama and literature recordings

A unique collection of audio-visual recordings of drama, poetry and literature in performance

Forced Entertainment

Over 300 video recordings of performances, workshops and rehearsals