Archives and Special Collections

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The Attenboroughs at Leicester

29 April – 18 August 2023

Black and white photograph of David and Richard Attenborough in academic dress, taken in 1970.

Our new exhibition is based on material in the University's Archives, including excerpts from a new oral history interview with Sir David Attenborough that was conducted by Elizabeth Blood (Research Associate, University History) in 2022.

Frederick Attenborough was Principal of University College Leicester from 1932 to 1951. His wife Mary, née Clegg, lived with him and their three sons, Richard, David and John, on campus for almost twenty years. The Attenborough legacy is a story of triumph over adversity, as the Attenboroughs helped lay the foundation for independent University status. 

Our exhibition explores the University College during these two decades, combining documents, photographs, objects and audio-visual traces of the Attenboroughs' daily lives and individual pursuits during their time at Leicester. See our newly-identified student photograph of David Attenborough from 1945, alongside a host of other items illustrating the family's life in the 1930s and 1940s.

To coincide with the exhibition launch, the Department of English have released a new interview with Michael Attenborough about his love of literature, My Life in Books, available via Soundcloud. 

Visiting the exhibition

Located on the Ground Floor of the David Wilson Library, the exhibition is open every day between 9.30am and 4.30pm (excluding public holidays and University closure days). Entry to the Library is free but security controlled. Ask for admission to the Special Collections exhibition at reception. 

We are grateful to David and Michael Attenborough for their support and assistance with the exhibition. 

For more information email or call 0116 252 2056.

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