Printed Heritage provenance research – withdrawal and apology

As part of the Library’s ongoing work to interpret and document the provenance and history of the printed collections under our care, curators have undertaken some research to identify collections associated with wealth obtained from enslaved people or through colonial violence. The aim is to share knowledge with researchers, so that they can judge whether these aspects are important to their understanding of the circumstances behind the creation of individual collections.

The Library is committed to openness around the provenance of the collections in our care and the initial findings from this research was recently published on our website in the form of a spreadsheet. However, early presentation of these findings has caused confusion and concern, particularly in relation to connections drawn between named individuals and their ancestors. We regret profoundly the distress that this has caused and have removed the spreadsheet pending a review of this research.

In particular we wish to apologise to Mrs Carol Hughes, widow of the late Poet Laureate, Ted Hughes, and to other family members and friends, owing to a reference included in the spreadsheet to a distant ancestor which should not have been made, and which we withdraw unreservedly. While the document involved has been removed pending review, this reference will not be made again. 


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