The University of Exeter looks after a rich collection of literary papers of more than thirty writers, poets and playwrights with links to the South West of England. Our collections also include several working libraries of South-West writers. The close proximity between writers in the South West often led to friendships and sometimes literary collaboration. Examples of this can be found in many of the archive collections described below, in particular within correspondence, which connects a number of the archives.
This LibGuide provides an overview of some of the archives of South West Writers held by the University of Exeter Special Collections. Each box below describes a different literary collection and contain links to the catalogues, through which you can explore the collections further.
The resources highlighted in this guide have been identified using our catalogues, but are not exhaustive. You can search our archives catalogue and library catalogue with key word searches to identify further items of interest. More information on searching the catalogues can be found on the Search our Catalogues LibGuide. If you come across any other sources within our collections that you think should be included in this guide, we would be very pleased to hear about them.
Archives and rare books held by Special Collections are available to everyone. More information about accessing the collections can be found in our Visiting Heritage Collections LibGuide. Please note that there may be some restrictions on accessing and copying (including photography) material in the archives and books held by Special Collections in line with current data protection and copyright legislation. Always make sure to check the access conditions on the archive catalogue and email Special Collections before your visit for more information about specific restrictions.
H G Andrews was an artist and poet, who created lino-cuts and simple poems, often with a straightforward religious theme. He was a friend of Walter de la Mare, and two poems of his appear in a de la Mare-edited anthology, Love, in 1946. In 1934 he was living in Bristol, in 1936 in Llandaff, Glamorgan, and from 1938 in Taunton, Somerset.
The collection is one side of a correspondence about the poems and art between Andrews and the bookseller, Ifan Kyrle Fletcher, of Old Bond St, London. The collection includes a neat copy manuscript book of poems entitled 'A Tale Told', and a number of other calligraphically written poems, with a few letters from Andrews to Kyrle Fletcher.
Further information about the correspondence of H G Andrews can be found on the archives catalogue.
Patricia Beer was a poet and writer who was born in Exmouth, Devon (1919-1999). On completion of her formal education, Beer travelled to Italy where she taught at the University of Padua,The British Institute in Rome, and the Minstero della Aeronautica, Rome. She returned to England in 1953 and published her first collection of poems in 1959. In 1962 she was appointed as a lecturer in English at Goldsmith's College, London where she taught until 1968. On leaving Goldsmith's she became a full-time writer. Her publications explored themes of nature and topography, good and evil, love, religion, ritual and mortality. She married first the literary scholar Philip Nicholas Furbank, then, in 1964, the architect Damien Parsons. The couple returned to Beer's birth county to a farm house in east Devon, near Honiton, where she remained for the rest of her life.
Patricia Beer's archive includes material relating to her literary output, including manuscripts, typescripts, correspondence and audio recordings, as well as notebooks, desk diaries, journals, address books, a small collection of private correspondence, family papers and miscellaneous papers.
Further information about the literary and personal Papers of Patricia Beer can be found on the archives catalogue.
Frances Bellerby (1899-1975) was a poet, short story writer and novelist. She was born in Bristol and later settled in Cornwall and Devon. From the age of twenty, she worked as a teacher, and at about the same time began writing articles for 'The Bristol Times and Mirror'. In 1930, she had a fall while walking along the Lulworth Cliffs on the Dorset coast, in which she badly damaged her spine. From 1942, Bellerby started writing at her Cornish cottage, where she published poetry, short stories and a novel. In 1950, she was diagnosed as having breast cancer and was given a year to live. In 1954, she bought a semi-detached cottage in Goveton, near Kingsbridge, Devon, where she remained for the rest of her life, battling severe health issues, and writing new poems, most of which were published by The Enitharmon Press.
The University of Exeter Special Collections holds several collections of Bellerby's personal and literary papers. In addition, correspondence between Bellerby and the poet Charles Causley - who were close friends - can be found in the Papers of Charles Causley.
Further information about the Frances Bellerby collections can be found on the archives catalogue.
Sir John Betjeman (1906-1984) was a poet, writer on topography and architecture, broadcaster, and Poet Laureate (1972-1984). He published poetry and pieces on topography and architecture, and obtained a job at 'The Architectural Review' in 1930. Betjeman succeeded Cecil Day Lewis as Poet Laureate in 1972, a position which he held until his death. He was knighted in 1969, awarded a CBE in 1960, and a CLitt in 1968. He had a lifelong love of Cornwall, which is reflected in his work, and he died at his home in Trebetherick in 1984.
Archive collections relating to John Betjeman include draft poems, correspondence and archive materials from the John Betjeman Library.
Further information about the John Betjeman archive collections can be found on the archives catalogue.
Sir John Betjeman's Library contains more than 4,000 printed books and pamphlets from the eighteenth to the twentieth century. The collection, which also contains many items with fine bindings, is arranged into the following subject categories: poetry, churches, architecture, topography, art, theology, Victorian bindings, biography, early twentieth-century schoolboy novels, and the English public school.
Titles in John Betjeman's Library can be browsed via the library catalogue (local classmark: Betjeman).
Arthur Caddick (1911-1987) was born in Coatham, Yorkshire. He was employed at the War Office during the Second World War, before moving his family to Cornwall in 1945. For thirty-six years Caddick lived in the same cottage, 'Windswept', above the village of Nancledra in West Penwith, until ill health necessitated a move to North Devon. Caddick arrived in Cornwall intending to pursue a writing career, and quickly found the inspiration he was searching for in the place and people of his adopted home. Much of his published work is deeply connected to Cornwall, where he mixed with artists and writers and became involved in the rise of the Cornish nationalist movement, an aspect of Cornish life which his writing both celebrates and satirises.
The collection represents a very full record of his published career and of his engagement in the political and cultural landscape of West Penrith, Cornwall. Included are: correspondence with authors, publishers and artists; autograph manuscripts and typescripts; legal papers; presscuttings; personal and family correspondence; diaries and notebooks; and memoirs by Caddick's wife and daughter.
Further information about the literary and personal papers of Arthur Caddick can be found on the archives catalogue.
Titles of Arthur Caddick's publications can be browsed via the Library catalogue (local classmark: Reserve 828 9 CAD)
Richard Doddridge Blackmore (1825-1900) was a novelist and poet of the second half of the nineteenth century. He was educated at Blundell's School, Tiverton, and Exeter College Oxford. He began his career as a lawyer, but occasional epileptic fits impeded his progress and instead he worked firstly as a schoolmaster and later as fruit-grower at Teddington, where he lived for the rest of his life. Besides Lorna Doone, which was published in 1869, he published thirteen other novels, plus a number of short stories, poems and translations from the classics.
The collection amounts to four boxes of literary fragments, exercise books, completed drafts and corrected proofs. These include poems in progress and finished, whole manuscripts (e.g. 'Craddock Nowell') and part manuscript novels, plus typescript novels (e.g. 'Alice Lorraine') and a number of short stories in proof. There are also a few letters. In addition there is a set of 21 printed pamphlets of editions and transcriptions of Blackmore's work, including a comprehensive overview of Blackmore's writings and transcriptions of Blackmore's letters to his sister.
Further information about the R D Blackmore literary papers can be found on the archives catalogue.
Charles Causley (1917-2003) was a poet, teacher and broadcaster, who was born in Cornwall and is closely associated with the development of a strong regional identity for creative writing in the South West. During the Second World War he served in the Communications Branch of the Royal Navy, as a coder, but with the exception of these Navy years, he lived in Launceston, Cornwall, all his life. After the war Causley returned to Cornwall and taught there until 1976 when he chose to concentrate solely on his writing career. Although he wrote and published plays in the 1930s, it wasn't until after the war that his career as a writer and poet blossomed. His poetry was heavily influenced by traditional popular forms such as folk songs, verses and hymns. Equally influential was his experience in the Navy. He died on November 4, 2003, aged 86, and was buried next to his mother's grave in St Thomas' Churchyard, barely 100 yards from where he was born.
His archive comprises literary papers, including working notebooks, manuscripts and typescripts; extensive correspondence with other writers such as Ted Hughes, Siegfried Sassoon, Jack Clemo and Frances Bellerby; publicity material; professional and personal photographs; personal papers, including diaries; papers relating to Causley's careers in teaching and broadcasting and the Navy; and Causley's printed book collection.
Dame Agatha Mary Clarissa Mallowan (1890-1976), the novelist known as Agatha Christie, was born in Torquay, Devon. In 1920 her first novel 'The Mysterious Affair at Styles' was published by John Lane, More than twenty more novels had appeared by 1938 (when this collection of papers begins), and a further forty followed, in addition to short stories and plays. She went on to become the world's biggest-selling author. She died on 12 January 1976 at her home in Oxfordshire.
This archive is from the offices of Hughes Massie and Co. Ltd. and relates to Agatha Christie's literary estate. Throughout her career her agent was Edmund Cork, and these files were created by him to reflect his dealings with publishers, film-makers and other professional persons with an interest in the Christie estate, including Agatha Christie herself, and her husband, Sir Max Mallowan.
Futher information about the Agatha Christie Business Papers can be found on the archives catalogue.
Reginald John 'Jack' Clemo (1916-1994) was a poet who was born in Cornwall and lived there until he moved to Weymouth in 1984. As a child he experienced two periods of complete blindness and by 1955 he was totally blind. He began to write at the end of his schooldays, but for many years his only vehicle for publishing his verse and stories was a local newspaper. In 1948, he published a novel, followed by an autobiography in 1949, and a volume of poetry in 1951. Further volumes of poetry in 1961 and 1967 furthered his reputation as a poet. By 1955 he was totally blind, and although periodically he was able to hear music faintly, he could never again recognise speech. He continued to write and publish.
The collection includes all of his manuscript notebooks and typescripts for prose and poetry, personal letters, diaries, photographs, reviews, newscuttings and correspondence.
Further information about the Jack Clemo literary and personal papers can be found on the archives catalogue.
A selection of items from this archive have been digitised and are available to browse via the Open Research Exeter Portal.
Titles from the library of Jack Clemo can be browsed via the library catalogue (local classmark: Clemo)
Lois Deacon (d 1984) was born at Tamerton Foliot, Devon, and began writing poems and short stories in her youth. Her work began to appear in journals and popular periodicals in the 1930s and 1940s, with her 1940s poems appearing in more literary journals, such as 'Poetry Review'. Her first commercial book, 'So I went my way', a double biography of William Mason and his wife Mary, appeared in 1951; but her major work was a series of books she wrote concerning Thomas Hardy, especially concentrating on Hardy's relationships with women. Later books on Hardy were published by the Toucan Press in Guernsey. She lived in Chagford, on the edge of Dartmoor, Devon (about which she also wrote in later life), and died there in November 1984.
The collection includes typescripts and manuscripts of her published and unpublished monographs, poetry and short stories; correspondence; notebooks; diaries; guidebooks and maps; and pictures.
Further informatoin about the Lois Deacon Collection can be found on the archives catalogue.
Ronald Frederick Delderfield (1912-1972) was an English novelist and dramatist, who was born in New Cross, London, on 12 February 1912. In 1923, his family moved to Exmouth, East Devon, where his father became publisher of the 'Exmouth Chronicle'. In 1929, he joined the staff of the 'Exmouth Chronicle', and later assumed its editorship from his father. R.F. Delderfield's first play, 'Spark in Judea', was produced in London in 1936 and this marked the beginning of a prolific and successful writing career. Following war-service in the RAF, Delderfield took up permanent residence in Devon, where he immersed himself in local associations and historical events. He ran an antiques business near Budleigh Salterton and continued writing plays until 1956, when he decided to disengage from the theatre and pursue a career as a novelist. R.F. Delderfield died at his house in Sidmouth, Devon on 24 June 1972.
The collections include literary papers relating to 'Give us this day' and 'To serve them all my days'.
Further information about the literary papers of R.F. Delderfield can be found on the archives catalogue.
Ronald Duncan (1914-1982) was a productive West Country author whose literary career encompassed journalism, fiction, poetry, libretti, film scripts and plays. He is best known as the playwright of 'This Way to Tomb' (1946), poet of 'The Horse' (1964) and librettist of 'The Rape of Lucretia' (1946). He was also a farmer, horse breeder and pacifist who lived in Welcombe, Devon for most of his life.
Possible topics of research within the Duncan Collection are extremely wide ranging given the size and breadth of the collection. Some possible areas of interest to early career researchers are listed below, but if you have a particular topic in mind then contact Special Collections to chat about whether this collection would be suitable for your research.
Janice Elliot (1931-1995) was born in Derbyshire and brought up in wartime Nottingham. She started her writing career by producing experimental blank verse drama. She found a job as sub-editor on 'House and Garden', then a writing position on 'House Beautiful', and later a post on 'The Sunday Times' women's pages. However, she left journalism to become a full-time writer in 1962. Elliott lived in Partridge Green, Sussex, for many years and for the last few years, from the mid 1980's onwards, she lived in Cornwall, where she continued to write, until her final novel, 'Figures in the Sand' (1994) was published shortly before her death. In total she wrote twenty two novels, five childrens books and a collection of short stories ranging in subject matter from the bizarre and magical to the social realism of the 'England Trilogy'.
The collections include typescript drafts and letters and postcards found in Elliott's private library.
Further information about the Janice Elliot collections can be found on the archives catalogue.
Malcolm Elwin (1902-1973) was born in Nottingham businessman. He studied at the University College, Oxford, but left without a degree in order to embark on a literary career. As that career progressed during the 1930s he corresponded with many of the figures of the literary establishment, some of whom are represented in the archive. Elwin lived in North Stoke, Oxfordshire, during his first marriage, but eloped to North Devon with Eve Conelly in the 1930s. Elwin was a prolific biographer, critic and editor. Later in his career, he published perhaps his best-known work on Lord Byron's wife, Annabella Milbanke. He also had a passionate interest in cricket. Having founded a famous cricket club, the South Oxfordshire Amateurs, Elwin later played for, and became the historian of, the Devon Dumplings. Although Elwin transferred his cricket loyalties to the South West, he was all too conscious of his remoteness from the literary 'centre' during the rest of his life, spent successively on the coastal fringes of Parracombe, Woody Bay and Putsborough, North Devon.
The archive contains material deriving from Elwin's life as biographer, editor, novelist, publisher's reader, essayist, lecturer, cricketer and friend/advisor of writers and as such it has a rich seam of research interest. It includes correspondence, literary drafts and personal papers.
John Fairfax (1930-2009 ) was born and educated in Devon. Fairfaxwas at school in Plymouth during the war period and afterwards moved to London where his mother lived. London did not suit for long, however, and he joined his uncles and other poets in Zennor, Cornwall for a short period, during which time he practised writing poetry. On his return to London, he published the occasional poem and was active on the Soho scene of writers and artists. He met his wife-to-be, Esther Berk, at a Dylan Thomas party. They were married in 1952, and lived in Paris for a short period. On their return from Paris to London Fairfax took on a series of jobs to earn a living, including a private eye and excise clerk. After the birth of their first son, Michael, he secured a post as a teacher in a prep school in Berkshire. He remained there for the rest of his life, and although the teaching post lasted only a few years, the course of his life continued from then on in the roles of teaching, writing poetry, editing and encouraging others to write. He inherited the Phoenix Press from his uncles and Maurice Carpenter and as its editor he gave a platform for young writers. In 1964, he met fellow writer and artist John Moat, with whom he co-founded the Arvon Foundation in 1968. The Foundation began as a small series of lectures at the Beaford Arts Centre in Devon and blossomed into an organisation with four centres and a learning ground for an enormous number of well-known writers. It now runs 100 courses a year.
This small literary collection contains: three notebooks containing poem drafts and rough notes, with enclosed manuscript and typescript copies, 1972-1995; two files of personal correspondence, including from John Moat, 1964-1988; one portfolio of five 'poem posters' John Fairfax and Ken Turner, undated [1980s]; one audio cassette of songs 'Spindrift' set to the words of John Moat and John Fairfax, performed by Mike Campbell Cole and Andrew Pratten, Phoenix Press (Music): Newbury, Berkshire, 1981.
Further information about the literary and personal papers of John Fairfax can be found on the archives catalogue.
John Robert Fowles (1926-2005) was born in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex. John Fowles worked first as a university lecturer in English in France, and later as a school teacher in Greece and London. His international reputation as a novelist was assured early with the publication in 1963 of 'The Collector', the success of which was followed by 'The Magus' (1965), 'The French Lieutenant's Woman' (1969), 'Daniel Martin' (1977), and 'The Maggot' (1985). John Fowles also published poetry, criticism, and written on historical and topological subjects, mainly about the South West of England. He received a number of literary awards and honours, including an honorary degree from the University of Exeter in 1983. John Fowles lived at Lyme Regis, on the Devon-Dorset border.
The collection consists of copy diaries c 1949-1990, copy typescript and autograph correspondence (with index) and miscellaneous papers (draft typescript poems, diary of holiday at Ippedes, 'A nice day in the country: a private record', 22 June 1957, and other papers).
Further information about the literary and personal papers of John Fowles can be found on the archives catalogue.
Sir William Gerald Golding (1911-1993) was a novelist, who was born in Newquay, Cornwall. He moved to London in 1935, working as a writer, actor and producer for a small, non-commercial theatre before taking up teaching in 1939 when he married and had a family.
During the World War II he served in the Royal Navy. He returned to writing and teaching after the war. 'Lord of the Flies', his first and best known novel, was not published until 1954 by Faber and Faber, after being rejected by 21 publishers. Golding wrote 12 novels, many essays and reviews, poems, short stories and a travel book about Egypt. In 1961, he was able to resign as a school teacher and in 1983 was awarded the Nobel prize for literature. Golding died in 1993 at his home in Perranarworthal, near Truro.
His archive comprises notebooks, manuscript and typescript drafts of Golding's novels up to 1989 including the original manuscript and typescript of Lord of the Flies.
Further information about the William Golding collections can be found on the archives catalogue.
Ted Hughes (1930-1998) was born at Mytholmroyd in Yorkshire. In 1948, he won a scholarship to Cambridge, and read English at Pembroke College before changing to Archaeology and Anthropology, graduating in 1954. At Cambridge he met Sylvia Plath (d 1963), whom he married in 1956. The year after his marriage his first book of poetry, 'The Hawk in the Rain', was published by Faber and Faber to widespread acclaim. A number of increasingly diverse publications followed, including childrens' stories and poetry, librettos and poetry. After a short period in London and the USA, he moved to Devon in 1961. In 1970, he married his second wife, Carol Orchard, who survived him. He became Poet Laureate in 1984. He died in London in October 1998.
The archive collections include manuscripts relating to Cave Birds and Under the North Star and collaborative work with Leonard Baskin for the Gehenna Press, as well as correspondence with other South West writers.
William John Fletcher Jarmain (1911-1944) was a novelist and poet. In 1933, he married Eve Houghton and moved to Somerset. From 1937, Jarmain taught Mathematics, English Literature and Italian at Millfield School in Street. In 1938, he and Eve divorced. Immediately after war was declared in 1939, he joined up and was commissioned in July 1940. He served throughout the Second World War as a gunnery officer with the 51st Highland Division, part of the 61st Anti-Tank Regiment Royal Artillery, during their campaigns in North Africa and Sicily. He married Beryl Butler in the spring of 1940, before being posted to Scotland where he trained until 1942. Their first daughter, Janet Susan, was born during the war. Jarmain served in North Africa with 242 Battery from August 1942 till May 1943. After having been promoted major, he commanded 193 Battery and trained in Algeria before the Sicily landing in July 1943. In Sicily he fought at Vizzini, Ramacca, Gerbini and Sferro hills [Italian Campaign]. Jarmain returned to the UK in November 1943. After further training, he took part in the D Day landing and was killed at St Honorine la Chardonnerette, a village in Normandy, by a mortar bomb on 26 June 1944. His published work includes Priddy Barrows, a novel published in 1944, and Poems, a collection of poems published in 1945.
This collection consists of 120 manuscript letters from the poet John Jarmain, which were sent to his wife Beryl Jarmain in Dorset whilst he was serving with the 51st Highland Division in North Africa and South Italy during the Second World War (June 1942 to November 1943). The collection also includes a copy of a letter sent by John Jarmain from France the night before he was killed at Saint Honorine la Chardonne on 26 June 1944. Some of the letters include drafts of the poems, which provide an insight into his poetry and the context which inspired it.
All 120 letters have been digitised and are available to browse via the Digital Collections website of the University of Exeter Special Collections: view digital copies of all items in this collection.
Sylvia Kantaris (nee Mosely) was born in 1936. She was first published as a school girl in 1952. Kantaris studied French at Bristol University, and achieved a post-graduate Certificate in Education. She wrote poetry whilst she worked as a teacher - first in Bristol and London, then in Australia, where she moved in 1962. Whilst in Australia, she wrote her MA and PhD theses in French surrealism, and also wrote poetry reviews, articles for newspapers and magazines. 'Time and Motion' was published in 1975 in Australia, at the same time as Kantaris moved back to England, specifically Helston, Cornwall. From there, she continued to work as a tutor through the Open University and the University of Exeter's Extra-Mural department, whilst also publishing many literary articles and several collections of poetry (seven collections in total, between 1975 and 1993, many of which were published internationally). In 1986, she was appointed Cornwall's first Writer in the Community, and in 1989 she received an honorary DLitt from the University of Exeter.
The collection includes the author's editions of all seven published collections of poetry; drafts (some unpublished); manuscripts; notes, and correspondence from publishers or translators; copies of articles and reviews written for newspapers and magazines; plans and notices of lectures and readings; photographs from events; and a copy of Kantaris' MA Thesis, 'Surrealism in Spite of Dada'.
Further information about the papers of Sylvia Kantaris can be found on the archives catalogue.
Daphne du Maurier (1907-1989) grew up in London, but the family developed strong links with Cornwall after buying a riverside house near Fowey, and it was in Cornwall that du Maurier settled. She began publishing stories and articles in 1928; her first novel, 'The Loving Spirit', was published in 1931 by Heineman. There followed 'The Progress of Julius' (Heineman, 1933) and 'Gerald, a portrait' (Gollancz, 1934) before her first enduring success, 'Jamaica Inn', which was published by Gollancz in 1936. Two years later she published her most significant and best-loved novel, 'Rebecca'. Besides these she published a number of other novels, short-stories and biographical portraits, blending history and literary art in some, while developing her own unique vision of the macabre in others.
The University of Exeter's Special Collections include literary and personal papers of Daphne du Maurier.
Further information about the Daphne du Maurier collections (including papers relating to other members of the du Maurier family) can be found on the archives catalogue.
John Moat (1936-2014) was a writer and artist based in Devon since the age of two, although he was born in India. He spent a year as a painter in France at the age of eighteen, working with the artist Edmond Kapp, before reading English Literature at Oxford University. After graduating, he taught for four years in order to support his writing career, and then turned to writing full-time. Together with his life-long friend and fellow poet John Fairfax, he was the co-founder of the Arvon Foundation, which is now one of the UK's foremost creative writing establishments. The first week-long creative writing course was held for Devon schoolchildren in 1968, with Ted Hughes (Poet Laureate) attending as guest reader. The Foundation now runs residential creative writing courses at four centres throughout the United Kingdom. Moat was a broadcaster and teacher, and he also illustrated his own books, having gradually resumed painting from the age of thirty. He wrote a column for the leading international 'alternatives' magazine Resurgence for twenty-five years.
This collection includes personal correspondence, literary manuscripts, papers and drawings.
Further information about the literary and personal papers of John Moat can be found on the archives catalogue.
Margaret Hilda Penn, nee Kenworthy (1896-1982) was born in Glazebrook, Lancashire, and lived most of her adult life in Devon, predominantly at Bixley Haven, Woodbury. She wrote three autobiographical novels, 'Manchester Fourteen Miles' (Cambridge University Press, 1947), 'The Foolish Virgin' (Cape, 1951) and 'Young Mrs Burton' (Cape, 1954), based on her alter ego Hilda Winstanley, who grew up in the fictional village of 'Moss Ferry', in reality Hollins Green, a village fourteen miles from Manchester.
The collection includes typescript and manusscript drafts, notebooks, correspondence, and personal effects.
Further information about the literary and personal papers of Margaret Penn can be found on the archives catalogue.
Eden Phillpotts (1862-1960) was born in India while his father Henry Phillpotts was serving as an officer in the Indian Army. He returned home with his mother and two siblings at a young age, after the death of his father. He was educated at Mannamead School, Plymouth, and later went to London where for ten years he was employed as a clerk in the Sun Fire Office. He became interested in literature, gave up his dreams of going into the theatre, and made his living from writing novels, short stories and one-act plays. His first major novel, 'Lying Prophets', was published in 1897, followed by 'Children of the Mist' in 1898. Most of his work has Dartmoor as a background. He died at his home in Broadclyst, near Exeter, in 1960.
The collections include six letters to Philpotts and four photograph albums.
Further information about the Eden Philpotts collections can be found on the archives catalogue.
For thirty two years, C.F. Powys was Rector of Montacute, Somerset, and subsequently the Powys children would always regard the West Country as their home. John Cowper Powys the novelist, poet, philosopher, essayist and letter writer was the eldest child. Theodore Francis Powys was born in 1875 and started farming in Suffolk in the 1890s, but moved to Dorset in 1901 to write. Llewelyn Powys was an essayist polemicist and writer of memoirs. Although less well known than their brothers, Gertrude Powys was a painter, Philippa Powys was a published novelist and poet, Marian Powys was an authority on lace and lace-making.
The core of the Collection is based around the work of the brothers and writers John Cowper Powys, Theodore Francis Powys and Llewelyn Powys, as well as their immediate circle of family and friends.Their books and papers form the bulk of the collections held here.
David Rees was born in Surbiton in 1936 and moved to Exeter to 1968 to take up the position of lecturer at St Luke's College. He became lecturer in education in 1978, when the college became a part of the University of Exeter. He worked at the University until 1984, when he retired early in order to write full-time. He lived with HIV and AIDS, which he talked and wrote about openly. He continued writing until his death in 1993.
David Rees came out as a gay man when he was 37 years old. He had his first novel accepted for publication the same year. Much of his fiction was aimed at young adults and explores the experiences of growing up as a gay teenager. His novels Quintin's Man (1976) and In the Tent (1979) were the first books for teenagers in the UK to have central gay characters. His novel The Milkman's On His Way (1982) was cited in Parliament during the Section 28 debates.
The archive collection at the University of Exeter comprises literary papers of David Rees dating between c 1975-1993. They include manuscripts, typescripts, correspondence, and reviews collected by Rees.
The literary papers of David Rees have been catalogued and can be browsed via the online archives catalogue.
Books by David Rees are held within our Reserve Collection, catalogued under the classmark Reserve 828.9/REE-9. You can browse the titles in the library catalogue.
Alfred Leslie Rowse (1903-1997) was a Cornish historian, poet, diarist, biographer and critic.He was born in Tregonissey near St. Austell, Cornwall. He won a scholarship to Christ Church, Oxford, gaining a first class honours degree in history in 1925 when he was also elected Fellow of All Souls, Oxford (the first man from a working-class background to do so). It was during this period that he established so many of the social contacts with academic, political and literary circles within which he was to move for the remainder of his life. He stood unsuccessfully for parliament at Penryn and Falmouth in 1931 and 1935. He became Sub-Warden of the All Souls but was defeated in his election as Warden in 1952, shortly after which he retired to Trenarren, his Cornish home, for the remainder of his life. He began to publish relatively late in life. He produced a tremendous output of works on both history and Shakespeare between the 1950s and 1980s, and published 65 of his 105 books after the age of 65.
The A.L. Rowse collections contain both literary and historical manuscripts, typescripts and proofs of various published and unpublished works including articles, poetry, short stories, memoirs and autobiographical material, journals and a wide range of correspondence.
Titles from A.L. Rowse's library can be browsed via the library catalogue (classmark: Rowse).
Lawrence Sail (1942-) is a contemporary British poet and writer, born in London in 1942, and brought up in Exeter, Devon. Reading French and German at St. John's College, Oxford, he taught for over four years in Kenya before returning to the UK to hold other teaching posts. He then turned to freelance writing. He has published many collections of poems and was the editor of 'South West Review' from 1980 to 1985. He has worked in schools and colleges, and was a frequent participant in the W.H. Smith Writers in Schools scheme. His poems have been broadcast on both radio and television, and he has also written a radio play, as well as various short features for radio. He was chairman of the Arvon Foundation from 1990 to 1994.
His archive includes worksheets and drafts of his poetry, prose, essays, reviews, and BBC Radio 3 and Radio 4 broadcasts.
Further information about the literary Papers of Lawrence Sail can be found on the archives catalogue.
Flora Thompson (1876-1947), writer, was born Flora Timms. She left school at fourteen to work in the village post office at Fringford. After marrying she and her husband ran the post office in Liphook, Hampshire, where she began to write in order to supplement the family income after she had three children. In 1921 she published her first volume of verse, 'Bog Myrtle and Peat'. The family moved to Devon in 1928. Her acclaimed autobiographical trilogy, 'Lark Rise' (1939), 'Over to Candleford' (1941), and 'Candleford Green' (1943) was reissued as 'Lark Rise to Candleford' in 1945.
The University of Exeter Special Collections holds two small collections of letters from Flora Thompson to Arthur and Anna Ball, and from Flora Thompson to a Mrs Tylor.
Further information about the Flora Thompson collections can be found on the archives catalogue.
John Mills Whitham (1883-1956), novelist and historian, also known as 'Jan' Mills Whitham, was born in Folkestone in 1883. He was educated at Liverpool College, and became an architect before turning to writing. In 1912 his first novel, 'Broom', was published by Stephen Swift and Co under the name J Mills Whitham. This was followed by 'Starveacre' (Methuen, 1915), 'Wolfang' (Methuen, 1917) and a further seven novels over the years 1919-1925. He then published two biographical works on the French Revolution under his full name in 1930 and 1933. His final novel, 'Swings and Roundabouts', was published by Duckworth in 1937. He married Silvia Frances Milman, and lived at The Cottage, Holdstone Down, North Devon, until his death in 1956.
The papers include the manuscripts of most of his published works, as well as some texts which remain unpublished. There is also a bundle of letters, 1928-1942.
Further information about the literary papers of John Mills Whitham can be found on the archives catalogue.
Chris Wallace-Crabbe (b 1934) is an Australian poet who grew up with a family tradition of military-bohemian Scots. On leaving school, he worked at such jobs as cadet metallurgist and electrical trade journalist before finding his metier as poet and as a university teacher. He lived in Exeter and taught on the Commonwealth Arts course at the University in the early seventies, and has also lived in the United States and Italy, as well as Melbourne. He has published fifteen books of poetry, plus prose works, art criticism and varied anthologies.
The collection includes a number of draft poems; part of a corrected proof of 'Six Voices' for publication; notes; postcards, and programmes.
Further information about the literary papers of Chris Wallace-Crabbe can be found on the archives catalogue.
Henry Williamson (1895-1977) was born in South London. He fought in the army in the First World War. He worked as a journalist for a short while before writing his first novel, 'The Beautiful Years', in 1921. This became volume one of a quartet, named 'The Flax of Dreams'. At the same time he moved to North Devon and, in 1927, wrote there 'Tarka the Otter', the book on which his fame most heavily rests, and 'A Patriot's Progress' (1930), based on his trench experiences. After 'Salar the Salmon' (1935) he became an outspoken supporter of German reform and British fascism, which led to his being briefly interned at the start of the war. His postwar work is a cycle of fifteen novels entitled, 'A Chronicle of Ancient Sunlight', which was completed in 1960.
Our collections include literary manuscripts and typescripts, the papers of the Henry Williamson Society and correspondence from and to Williamson.
Further information about the Henry Williamson collections can be found on the archives catalogue.