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'Python notebooks' among Michael Palin archive donated to British Library

The archive spans his literary and creative life for more than 20 years, from 1965 to 1987.


Former Monty Python star Michael Palin has donated his personal archive – including more than 50 notebooks relating to the comedy show – to the British Library.

The archive spans the writer, actor, comedian and TV presenter’s literary and creative life for more than 20 years, from 1965 to 1987.

The “Python notebooks” contain drafts, working material and personal reflections relating to Palin’s writing as part of the surreal comedy troupe.


The comedian could not resist making a joke as he explained his thinking behind the donation.

“My work has been inspired by, and created in, this country, so I’m very pleased that my archive has been accepted by the British Library, and that they will make it publicly available, so that future generations will know not to make the same mistakes again,” he quipped.

Palin has also donated his personal diaries as well as project files, containing material relating to his film, TV and literary work.


The files include correspondence, drafts and annotated scripts on later Python projects.

Rachel Foss, the British Library’s head of contemporary archives and manuscripts, said the archive is “fascinating” and “wide-ranging”.

“Michael’s contribution to comedy, film and television over the past 50 years has been enormous; in particular through Monty Python, which has had an unparalleled influence on British comedy and internationally,” she said.


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“We’re looking forward to making it available for researchers, students and everyone with an interest in post-war popular culture. It’s particularly exciting to think that the comedy talent of tomorrow may find inspiration from this collection.”

:: The collection will be available to view in the British Library Reading Rooms from spring 2018.

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