Dr Sophie Ratcliffe wins University Public Engagement Award for Unsilencing the Library

sophie ratcliffe

A project run by researchers at the Faculty of English Language and Literature has won an award in this year’s Vice-Chancellor’s Public Engagement with Research Awards, which celebrate public engagement work across the University.

The award-winning project Unsilencing the Library is a collaborative exhibition at Compton Verney Art Gallery and Museum. The project focused on finding the creator of a ‘mock’ bookshelf, a key decorative feature at Warwickshire’s Compton Verney, in which all the authors were women, and co-curating an exhibition with the public, which opens in June.

The project team, led by Dr Sophie Ratcliffe, invited a series of individuals and communities to select real books to accompany this Victorian feminist bookshelf. This year’s guest curators include actor and campaigner Emma Watson; local school pupils; and members of Prison Reading Groups.

Unsilencing the Library offers Compton Verney’s 80,000 annual visitors new insights into why books mattered in the past, and why they still do. The accompanying website at www.unsilencingthelibrary.com is an ongoing learning resource, and Radio 4's Woman's Hour are featuring the exhibition in a specially recorded programme.

Uncovering stories about reading, from Georgiana Verney, Lady Willoughby de Broke, in the 1860s to the men at Bullingdon Prison today, has also hugely enriched the project team’s research and teaching.

The Vice-Chancellor's Public Engagement with Research Awards recognise and reward those at the University who undertake high-quality engagement activities and have contributed to building capacity in this area. Unsilencing the Library was one of six winners in the Project category of the awards. The announcement was made yesterday, 28 June, at an awards ceremony at the Oxford University Museum of Natural History hosted by Vice-Chancellor Professor Louise Richardson.

Our heartfelt congratulations to Dr Ratcliffe, Dr Ceri Hunter, and Dr Eleanor Lybeck for this well-deserved accolade.