Dr Dwayne Thompson, head of the Bermuda College’s English department and senior English lecturer Angela Barry are pictured with some of Brian Burland’s unpublished manuscripts. *Photo by Kageaki Smith
Dr Dwayne Thompson, head of the Bermuda College’s English department and senior English lecturer Angela Barry are pictured with some of Brian Burland’s unpublished manuscripts. *Photo by Kageaki Smith
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FRIDAY, MARCH 16: Unpublished works by noted Bermuda writer Brian Burland could soon see the light of day.

A total of five unpublished novels by Mr Burland are part of a bequest of papers to the Bermuda College — and senior English lecturer Angela Barry said talks were underway to reprint his published work and publish the unseen novels.

Ms Barry said: “There is a whole universe of possibilities in this archive — apart from the novels, there are plays, hundreds of unpublished poems and various versions of work which eventually became published books.”

She was speaking after the family of Mr Burland, who died in 2010, donated a total of 14 boxes of his writing to the college.

Ms Barry said that Mr Burland, who died in 2010 aged 78, had won more acclaim abroad than in his homeland and daughter and literary executor Dr Susan Burland was keen for his legacy to be preserved and studied by future generations.

She added: “It’s a remarkable array of material. It’s very difficult to put a price on it, but it is of incredibly high value. He was a most successful and highly-acclaimed author.”

Mr Burland, who was the author of eight novels many of which featured Bermuda, was praised by distinguished English writers like Anthony Burgess and Noel Coward.

He was not afraid to tackle social issues and his work turned the spotlight on the shameful inequality in what was then a segregated country.

His books include A Fall From Aloft, A Few Flowers for St George and Undertow, which helped establish his reputation in both the UK and US.

But his work remains largely unknown and uncelebrated in Bermuda, although he won a Lifetime Achievement award from the Bermuda Arts Council in 1994 and was honoured in the first Bermuda Literary Awards in 2001.

Ms Barry said: “He certainly has high critical stature and we think that one of the reasons the college was the beneficiary was the fact that Mr Burland wanted his work more widely known in Bermuda.

“People don’t know too much about him here. His wish was that his material be widely accessible to the Bermudian public. We’re really hoping for this not to be a dead archive.

“We’re putting plans in place to make it a living legacy in the form of classes where his work is featured.

“Students will be able to see the process of writing, from original idea, to drafts and finished text.”

Mr Burland, who wrote most of his books while living in Connecticut, was a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and was a guest Fellow at Yale University in the US.

Dr Dwayne Thompson, head of the college’s English department, said that a special course concentrating on Mr Burland’s work would be up and running by the end of the year.

He added: “This is the first literary bequest we have had and it’s very significant. Brian Burland was a leader in the area of English literature and a local writer who received international acclaim.

“We deem it an honour to have been selected to be the repository for his works. He wanted his work used as living documents and we will use his work in courses.

“People will see how his work, which has historical, local and political significance, as well as literary importance, evolved.”