Back in April 2021 the Special Collections and Archives took delivery of around 40 boxes of library and archive material which forms the Antonio Carluccio Library and Archive. It has been my job to unpack and list the material and, along with colleagues, create an exhibition to promote the collection which is now on display in the John Henry Brookes building.
The first stage was to unpack the books onto the shelves in our reading room. They are currently uncatalogued but we do have a listing of them and researchers are permitted to browse the collection and use them in the reading room. The archive material was checked and then I created a basic box list which I will turn into a full online catalogue over the next several months.
The box list allows me to get a feel for the collection and what it contains, I go through each box and list all the items or folders in it. The next step is to identify the different types of material and decide the best way to arrange them in the catalogue structure.
There is lots of wonderful material in the archive, much of it focussing on Antonio’s passion for regional Italian food and his love of foraging and mushrooms. Included are drafts of several of his books; being able to track the book from the first notes Antonio hand wrote in pencil, through to the finished product, is fascinating. There are also beautifully designed advent calendars which were used to promote the Christmas range at The Neal Street Restaurant and later Carluccio’s deli. Neal Street was Antonio’s first experience as a restaurateur, developing the menus and marketing the restaurant. He began as manager and became its owner in 1989, transforming it into a destination for Italian food. The collection charts Antonio’s development from restaurateur to his work in television and the books he published, some as accompaniments to the programmes. The archive also contains recordings of many of his television appearances including shows which looked back in history to understand the Italy Antonio loved.
Some of the other collection highlights which are currently on display include fan letters from public figures as well as young aspiring chefs, a Patrick Caulfield painting which hung in The Neal Street Restaurant, and mushroom books from Antonio’s personal library.
It’s fantastic to be able to make the Antonio Carluccio Library and Archive available to the public. The exhibition is on until December 2021 and is located on level 1 outside the library entrance in the John Henry Brookes building and in the Special Collections reading room in the basement.
Oxford Brookes students and staff can also access this playlist on Box of Broadcasts, with examples of Antonio’s television work.
— Annabel Valentine, Archivist