We hold the archives of pre-eminent novelists, poets, publishers and literary societies whose work has enriched contemporary British culture
About the collection
We are increasingly collecting archives in both paper and digital formats. The range of material in our archives is extensive, including handwritten drafts, proofs, letters, diaries and emails.
Examples of our archives and manuscripts include:
- Novelists Robert Aickman, Beryl Bainbridge, J G Ballard, John Berger, Angela Carter, Lawrence Durrell, Eva Figes, Ian Fleming, B S Johnson, Ruth Prawer Jhabvala, Hanif Kureishi, Shiva Naipaul, George Orwell, Mervyn Peake, Jean Rhys, Will Self, Graham Swift, Edward Upward, Keith Waterhouse, P G Wodehouse
- Poets W H Auden, Al Alvarez, John Betjeman, Wendy Cope, Bob Cobbing, T S Eliot, David Gascoyne, Seamus Heaney, Lee Harwood, Ted Hughes, Philip Larkin, Laurie Lee, Andrew Motion, Sylvia Plath, Kathleen Raine, Stevie Smith, Meary James Thurairajah Tambimuttu, Dylan Thomas, Vernon Watkins
- Publishers and societies Carmen Callil, Golgonooza Press, Macmillan & Co, Turret Books/Bernard Stone, Virago Press, Punch magazine, Poetry Book Society, The Society of Authors, The Royal Literary Fund
- Popular culture The Beatles lyrics, the archive of Barry Miles
You can also find archives and manuscripts relating to post-war theatre.
What is available online?
You can find a selection of digitised material from the collections on our Discovering Literature: 20th Century website. Featured authors include W H Auden, J G Ballard, E R Braithwaite, Angela Carter, T S Eliot, Ted Hughes, Hanif Kureishi, George Orwell and Sylvia Plath.
What is available in our Reading Rooms?
We don't generally allow access to uncatalogued material, but please contact the Manuscripts and Maps Reference Enquiry Team for further advice on this.
What is available in other organisations?
The following resources will help you find material held in other institutions: