Swansea University Home - 2009 - 2010

Inaugural Richard Burton Lecture

Members of the public, representatives of the Burton Family and guests are invited to attend the inaugural Richard Burton Lecture at the Taliesin Arts Centre on Friday 30 April 2010.

The lecture, which will explore 'Richard Burton the Scholar', celebrates the launch of Swansea University's Richard Burton Centre for the Study of Wales and the completion of the Richard Burton Archives - a £1.2 million refurbishment that will preserve the treasured Richard Burton Collection, the South Wales Coalfield Collection, the Raymond Williams papers and other fascinating Collections which relate to the rich cultural heritage of modern and contemporary Wales.

Speaking ahead of the lecture, Professor Chris Williams, Director of the Richard Burton Centre at Swansea University's School of Arts and Humanities, said: "Richard Burton was, in many ways, a frustrated scholar. A man of considerable intelligence, he had great respect for scholarship and literature, and often expressed a desire to make his mark in these fields rather than in the world of theatre and film acting.

"This dimension to his character emerges very powerfully in the private writing that he undertakes in his diaries."

The lecture will examine these characteristics of his personality together with the actor’s determination to educate and improve himself and to make something of his life.

Professor Williams added: "For many years, Richard Burton kept diaries in which he recorded his thoughts about his work, his family, friends and the world around.

"As a perfectionist, his published writing was occasional rather than prolific. It is an honour and a pleasure to review and annotate his journals and to undertake the in-depth research required to gain a better insight into  the complex character that the Collection reveals.

"In terms of cataloguing the Collection, and preparing components for public viewing, steady progress is being made and a full scholarly edition of the diaries will be published in due course."

From his personal diaries and journals it is clear that Richard Burton used his love of books and reading to try to understand the world and, as a keen linguist, to learn to converse, with varying degrees of fluency, in French, German, Hungarian, Italian, Serbo-Croat, Spanish and Russian.

Professor Williams estimates that it will take him a year to prepare the journals for publication and anticipates that the diaries will then be published by the end of 2012. These will be published in their entirety, complete with scholarly notes and an introduction that will set the story in context.

Professor Noel Thompson, Pro Vice Chancellor at Swansea University, said: "The Richard Burton Collection, generously donated by Sally Burton, provides a major resource of interest to scholars both within and beyond Wales and will confirm the reputation of the Richard Burton Centre as a major centre for research into the cultural history of modern Wales."

The Inaugural Richard Burton lecture will start at 5.00pm in the theatre of the Taliesin Arts Centre on Friday, 30 April 2010. Everyone is welcome and admission is free. As places are limited the organisers advise that you arrive early. 

The public bar at the Taliesin will be open for those who would like to enjoy a meal, or light refreshments, before or after the lecture. 


Additional Information

Following the lecture, there will be an interlude (of around one hour) before the screening of The Night of the Iguana – a humane and touching story of the fall and redemption of an Episcopalian pastor, his desperate struggle to save his soul and to find some solace other than alcohol.

The 12A certified film, which stars the volatile trio of Richard Burton, Deborah Kerr and Ava Gardner, will be screened from 7pm at the Taliesin Cinema. This must see film was, sadly, snubbed at the Oscars on release in the 1960s (1964) and is today more remembered for the media circus surrounding its filming in Puerto Vallarta than for its outstanding performances and memorable direction. 

Ticket prices on the door are £6.10; with concessions for full-time students, senior citizens and others. Discounts are also available for advance bookings. If you would like to attend, please contact the box office on 01792 602 060 or, for further information, please click here  or visit: www.taliesinartscentre.co.uk.

For further information, please contact the Press Office:
TEL: +44 (0) 1792 29 50 50 or FAX: +44 (0)1792 29 50 48

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