Page last updated at 17:41 GMT, Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Dorset museum wins fight to secure Hardy collection

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Dorset County Museum plans to purchase the collection at the end of April

A museum has won a fight to keep a series of rare Thomas Hardy manuscripts in the UK after raising nearly £60,000.

The play scripts and stage set models by Dorset's famous son, collected by Thomas Harry Tilley, of the original Hardy Players, date from 1908 to 1924.

When the collection was put on sale last November, Dorset County Museum pledged to raise the £58,750 price.

Interest from overseas had been made in taking the collection if the money could not be secured.

Museum director Jon Murden said he hopes to buy the collection in April.

Overseas inquiries

A spokesman from the museum said: "A leading American university had expressed strong interest in acquiring all the manuscripts if the necessary funds were not forthcoming in this country.

"The collection is unique because the documents it contains demonstrate Hardy's special relationship with the people of Dorchester and the original Hardy Players who performed his works in public.

"Hardy attended rehearsals and advised the players on the adaptations."

Among the items are original advertising posters and hand-painted scenery boards which fit into the displayed miniature Hardy Theatre purchased by museum last year.



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