Papers of Tony Dyson and Cliff Tucker

Scope and Content

The archive consists of correspondence and papers generated by Dyson and his partner, Cliff Tucker, and dates mainly from the 1950s to the late 1990s. There is also a small quantity of Dyson and Tucker family papers, primarily consisting of family photographs and wills. There is material representing the wide range of Dyson's interests, from campaigning against progressive educational policies to the promotion of new poetry and literary criticism for schools and universities through his Norwich Tapes and Casebooks ventures. There is also material representing his liberal Christianity and his campaigning for homosexual legal and civil rights.

Dyson had a wide circle of friends and acquaintances, and within the collection there is a large amount of correspondence from publishers, theologians, non-conformist groups, politicians, agony aunts, literary critics, actors, poets and academics relating to Dyson's various interests.

Tony Dyson became close friends with several of the poet contributors to his periodical Critical Quarterly - particularly Ted Hughes, R.S. Thomas and Thom Gunn - and this is reflected in the archive. Included are first editions of their poetry collections, often with accompanying letters and/or inscriptions. In particular, there is a significant amount of correspondence between Dyson and Thomas, in which R.S. Thomas writes in a candid and deeply personal way. Also of interest are two manuscript volumes of Thom Gunn's poetry which he sent to Dyson: a typescript copy of his 1990 collection of poems, The Man With Night Sweats, and a manuscript copy of a collection of poetry, with Dyson's annotations. This was published in 1971 as Moly by Faber and Faber.

There is a significant amount of material relating to Dyson and Tucker's long-term campaigning for homosexual rights. There are papers relating to Dyson's open letter to The Times, which was sponsored by public figures and called for the implementation of the recommendations of the Wolfenden Report (i.e. the partial legalisation of homosexuality) and also relating to his editorship of the liberal periodical which called for homosexual rights, The Christian. However, other papers relating to these events were extracted by Dyson and gifted to the London School of Economics in the 1990s, along with all the papers relating to the foundation of the Albany Trust and the Homosexual Law Reform Society. There is a significant amount of papers and correspondence relating to Dyson's establishment in 1978 of the Campaign for Reason, the sponsorship of his Charter of Homosexual Rights by public figures, and a conference organised to discuss the issues. Of particular note is the presence of the minutes of the Campaign for Reason for early 1978. This includes a significant amount of correspondence from members of several Christian denominations including Anglican clergy and bishops and also gay Christian groups such as Quest (Catholic), Friends Homosexual Fellowship (Quaker), Open Church Group (Anglican) and the Metropolitan Community Church. Within the collection there is a quantity of rare pamphlets and printed ephemera by groups campaigning for homosexual rights during the 1970s. Organisations represented include: Quantum Jump; Third Way; Reach (ecumenical evangelical); Gay Christian Movement (ecumenical/Anglican); New Christian Publications; Campaign for Homosexual Equality; Albany Trust; Gay Research Group; Integroup; Centre du Christ Liberateur (Paris); Barcelona Gay Liberation Front; Gay Icebreakers; and Gay Activists Alliance. Other organisations represented in the collection include: the Committee Against the Blasphemy Law; the Sexual Law Reform Society; and the National Council for Civil Liberties. There is also a small amount of papers relating to an early gay counselling service which Dyson and Tucker established in 1970 called the Viva Trust and a conference about counselling organised in 1980.

Another item of interest is a manuscript work by the openly homosexual Catholic priest, Illtud Evans, who was a friend of Dyson and Tucker and went to college with the latter. Dyson helped Evans publish some of his writings. Related to this is correspondence between Tucker and the University of Wales, Lampeter, concerning research about Evans's attendance at what was then called St David's College and also his campaign to have a posthumous graduation for Evans, who was expelled from the college for admitting his homosexuality during the 1930s.

Amongst papers relating to literature, there are a significant number of letters from the publisher Macmillan relating to Dyson's editorship of the Casebook series and also correspondence regarding Casebooks and Dyson's commercial venture, Norwich Tapes, where literary critics, academics and sometimes poets were asked to talk about literary works and were recorded for educational purposes. There are also scrapbooks relating to Critical Quarterly (1959-1968) and a scrapbook and numerous newspaper cuttings relating to the Black Papers (a campaign against 'progressive' educational policies run by Dyson and Brian Cox) from 1969-1970. During the last years of his life, Dyson wrote a book which was in part a work of theology and philosophy and part autobiography, which he titled The Fifth Dimension. Present are typescript copies which Dyson produced, some with his manuscript corrections.

Represented among the papers of Cliff Tucker are professional papers relating to his interest in industrial relations and also the law, including the texts of several talks/addresses. Also present is correspondence relating to Tucker's long-term involvement with Toynbee Hall, including letters from John Profumo. Tucker had a great interest in the local history of Monmouthshire, where he grew up, and there are materials relating to this interest in the collection. Finally, Tucker and Dyson were a loving couple for over thirty years and included in the collection is a significant quantity of air mail correspondence exchanged during periods when Dyson was away teaching in North America, which gives a great insight into their relationship.

In 1990 and 1995, Dyson extracted from his papers items which he regarded as significant in the establishment of the Homosexual Law Reform Society, the Campaign for Reason and some correspondence relating to The Christian and New Christian publications. Along with some contextual notes, these were given to the Hall Carpenter Archives at the London School of Economics.

There are a number of academic disciplines for which this archive will be of value. Besides study of English Literature and Language (in particular, poetry), it is a rich source of information for the history of post-war gay rights campaigning and post-war Christian Theology as well as contemporary legal history. It is also of interest to the study of post-war education policy.

Administrative / Biographical History

Anthony Edward (Tony) Dyson was born on 28 November 1928 at 53 Warlock Road, Paddington, London. He was the only child of Sydney Herbert Dyson and Lillian Matilda Dyson (née Drake). He shared a house with his parents and his maternal grandmother, Lillian Drake. His father was gassed during the First World War which caused permanent mental and physical incapacitation and illness, and periods of hospitalisation; he was unemployed throughout the interwar period. He remained a remote and problematic figure in Dyson's life, dying in 1966. Dyson was brought up by his mother and grandmother. Dyson's mother worked as a shop assistant at Selfridges and the family income was supplemented through taking in lodgers. Dyson's mother was a significant influence on his life, introducing religion and education. Another great influence was Dyson's grandmother, whose religious faith had faltered due to the loss of her son during the First World War and, to an extent, Dyson was doted on in place of her dead son.

Dyson attended Essendine Elementary School during 1933-1939, then gained a scholarship to Sloane School. During the Second World War, he remained in London and was educated by teachers considered too old for conscription. In 1946 Dyson was awarded an open exhibition in English at Pembroke College, Oxford, but beforehand had to complete three years' national service as a clerk at the Ministry of Food, being considered medically unfit for the armed forces. He arrived at Pembroke College in 1949 and was awarded an MLitt in 1958. In 1955, Dyson was appointed assistant lecturer in English at the University College of Wales, Bangor. In 1962 he joined the University of East Anglia, Norwich, where he took early retirement as Reader in English in 1982, on the grounds of ill-health. Whilst at East Anglia, he also spent periods of time - in 1967, 1969 and 1976 - as a visiting lecturer at Sir George Williams University, Montreal.

Dyson published several books of literary criticism including The Inimitable Dickens (1970); Between Two Worlds: Aspects of Literary Form (1972); The Crazy Fabric: Essays in Irony (1975); and Yeats, Eliot and R.S. Thomas (1981). He also co-authored and co-edited books on education and literary criticism, was general editor of the Macmillan Casebook series of critical essays on authors and literary works, and wrote Three contemporary poets: Thom Gunn, Ted Hughes and R.S. Thomas (1990). Dyson also ran a commercial venture known as Norwich Tapes, Critical Forum Series. Here, academics and writers gave recorded lectures on particular writers or works.

Tony Dyson met fellow academic Brian Cox (1928-2008) at Cambridge University and the two went on to become long-term collaborators on projects. In 1959 they founded the literary journal Critical Quarterly, which soon gained an international reputation and some 5,300 subscribers. Contributors included Ted Hughes, R.S. Thomas, Philip Larkin, Thom Gunn and Sylvia Plath. The journal later moved into publishing pamphlets, organised large conferences to encourage the popular enjoyment of literature, and began a second journal aimed at teachers called Critical Survey. In 1969, Dyson and Cox published a pamphlet called Fight for Education, the first 'Black Paper', in contrast to government white papers. It attacked the perceived excesses of progressive education and the destruction of the grammar school system. Further Black Papers were produced with contributions from politicians such as Rhodes Boyson and Angus Maud, and writers such as Iris Murdoch and Kingsley Amis. This venture was to receive much criticism from left-wing commentators and Labour politicians.

From his teenage years, Tony Dyson knew that he was homosexual but was also a committed Anglican. However, he never found these two aspects of his life to be in conflict and always saw his campaigning for equality for gay people through a Christian lens and comparable to the repression of other minority groups in society. Aged 30, in early 1958, he resolved to campaign for the legalisation of homosexuality. This was in reaction to the Wolfenden Report, which the previous year recommended the decriminalisation of homosexual behaviour in private for men aged 21 and over. He wrote to many famous figures of the day and managed to get a number to agree to put their names to an open letter to The Times, published on 7 March 1958, calling for the decriminalisation of homosexuality. These included people of the standing of J.B. Priestley, Clement Attlee and Bertrand Russell. His pioneering campaigning inspired others to begin campaigning for gay rights, including Anthony Grey, who responded to his advertisement asking for volunteers, and also Alan Horsfall, who would later establish the more politically strident Campaign for Homosexual Equality. Following correspondence and interest generated by the publication of the letter, Dyson established the Homosexual Law Reform Society on 12 May 1958. This was along with others, including J.B. Priestley and his wife, Jacquetta Hawkes, Stephen Spender and Victor Gollancz. They also established the associated charity, the Albany Trust. This was a pioneering organisation, which researched homosexuality in society and provided a counselling service for gay men and lesbians. It was named after the building where the Priestleys' London flat was located, which was where the first meetings were conducted. Tony Dyson was supported in his gay right campaigning by his life-partner, Cliff Tucker; they were a committed couple for some 35 years.

In 1970, Dyson and Tucker helped establish another charity offering counselling to gay men, called the Viva Trust, which also organised conferences on the issue. This was finally wound up in 1996. Also during the 1970s, Dyson was involved with Anglican organisations which were interested in campaigning for homosexual equality. From the early 1970s until 1977, he assumed editorship of The Christian, a periodical which campaigned for gay rights from a Christian perspective and contained articles by church ministers of several denominations. Dyson was also involved with an Anglican-dominated pressure group, called the Open Church Group, as honorary president and he helped with the publication of pamphlets and newsletters. In 1977, following a private prosecution by Mary Whitehouse, the magazine Gay News and its editor, Denis Lemon, were convicted of the crime of Blasphemous Libel for publishing a poem by James Kirkup which involved Christ and homosexual desire. This appears to have motivated Dyson in 1978 to organise the 'Campaign for Reason'. Again, he contacted politicians, academics, writers, actors and theologians, to become sponsors of a pamphlet which he called Towards a Charter of Homosexual Rights. This was published with the names of 174 sponsors, including Margaret Drabble, Dudley Moore, Iris Murdoch, Donald Pleasence, Norman Pittinger and Donald Soper. Also in 1978, Dyson organised a conference on homosexuality and Christianity at his old college, Pembroke College, Cambridge, attracting people from several Christian denominations.

Tony Dyson had for many years endured chronic ill health. During the 1970s, he suffered from a non-malignant tumor of the jaw. Although this was removed, it left him scarred and caused difficulties with eating. Dyson lived at 2 Streatley Place with his long-term partner, Cliff Tucker, until Tucker (16 years his senior) died in 1993. After Tucker's death, Dyson became more introspective and reclusive. He became increasingly concerned with environmental matters, both local and national, contributing to charities such as Centrepoint and organising the planting of memorial trees for a significant number of deceased friends and family members. He set about writing The Fifth Dimension (published in 1996), which is in part autobiography and in part a work of philosophy and personal theology. Towards the end of his life, Dyson suffered from leukemia, from which he died in 2002.

Cliff Tucker (18 December 1912-21 May 1993) was born in Monmouth, the son of a Baptist Minister. He was educated at Monmouth School and then St David's College Lampeter. He became employed in Imperial Chemical Industries' industrial relations division in 1936, and from 1946 until retirement worked for British Petroleum, retiring as Industrial Relations Manager. From an early age, Tucker was a member of the Labour Party and was elected a councillor in the London Boroughs of Stepney, St Pancras and Camden. He was also for many years a justice of the peace and acted as deputy chair of the Inner London Magistrates Committee during 1978-1981. Amongst his interests, Tucker was a long-term supporter of Toynbee Hall, living there in the 1950s. Tucker supported Dyson in his campaigns for gay civil rights and also retained a life-long interest in his old college. These interests coincided with his campaign to exonerate his good friend, Illtud Evans (then called John Alban Evans). Despite excelling academically and entering St David's College as a Bates English Prizeman in 1931, in 1934 Evans was expelled from St David's College for admitting his homosexuality. Evans converted to Catholicism in 1937 and was ordained a priest, adopting the name Illtud in 1943. He became a respected liberal theologian, author and campaigner for penal reform. He died in Greece in 1972. Tucker wrote to the college and conducted research using its minute books to campaign for Evans to be posthumously awarded his degree. On his death, Tucker bequeathed to his old college (later University of Wales, Lampeter) money to pay for a scholarship for research in history, a public lecture series and a new lecture theatre.


All the papers in AED 1/1 have been kept in the arrangement which Brian Cox gave them. The majority of the material in AED/2 has been retained in the order in which it was found and original files have been retained where they survived. However, the majority of this second accrual was received in a very disordered state. Generally, papers have been separated into files where they were found together and share similar themes and dates. However, it has been necessary to impose an order (or reimpose a lost order) to a small amount of the collection, especially where correspondence relating to a discrete theme with an organisation or individual had become scattered, or in the case of photographic and audio-visual material. The papers have been arranged into the following main subdivisions:

  • AED/1: Brian Cox accrual: Papers of Tony Dyson
  • AED/1/1: "Letters from famous Critical Quarterly poets"
  • AED/1/2: Alphabetical correspondence on literary and educational themes
  • AED/1/3: Printed and published poetry
  • AED/1/4: Critical Quarterly correspondence
  • AED/1/5: Photographs and obituaries
  • AED/2: University of Wales, Lampeter, accrual: Papers of Tony Dyson and Cliff Tucker
  • AED/2/1: Papers of Tony Dyson:
  • AED/2/1/1: Papers relating to literature and education
  • AED/2/1/2: Papers relating to homosexual rights and Christianity
  • AED/2/1/3: Personal Papers
  • AED/2/2: Papers of Cliff Tucker:
  • AED/2/2/1: Correspondence
  • AED/2/2/2: Papers relating to Welsh local history
  • AED/2/2/3: Personal, professional and family papers

Access Information

The collection is open to any accredited reader.

The collection includes material which is subject to the Data Protection Act 1998. Under Section 33 of the Data Protection Act 1998 (DPA), The University of Manchester Library (UML) holds the right to process personal data for research purposes. The Data Protection (Processing of Sensitive Personal Data) Order 2000 enables the UML to process sensitive personal data for research purposes. In accordance with the DPA, UML has made every attempt to ensure that all personal and sensitive personal data has been processed fairly, lawfully and accurately. Users of the archive are expected to comply with the Data Protection Act 1998, and will be required to sign a form acknowledging that they will abide by the requirements of the Act in any further processing of the material by themselves.

Open parts of this collection, and the catalogue descriptions, may contain personal data about living individuals. Some items in this collection are closed to public inspection in line with the requirements of the DPA. Restrictions/closures of specific items will be indicated at the relevant level in the catalogue.

Acquisition Information

The collection was acquired in two distinct accruals. AED/1 was received in 2002 from Brian Cox, who appears to have selected correspondence and other items from Dyson's papers which he considered to be of importance. AED/2 was a later accrual, received in December 2002 from the University of Wales, Lampeter, and comprises the papers of Tony Dyson and his partner, Cliff Tucker, both of whom had close associations with the University. Both accruals were received as gifts to the University of Manchester Library.

Separated Material

Tony Dyson donated some of his papers to the Hall Carpenter Archives, London School of Economics and Political Science, Special Collections (ref. HCA/DYSON)

Conditions Governing Use

Prints from scans and photographic copies of material in the archive can be supplied for private study purposes only, depending on the condition of the documents.

Most of the material in the archive remains within copyright under the terms of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988; it is the responsibility of users to obtain the copyright holder's permission for reproduction of copyright material for purposes other than research or private study.

Prior written permission must be obtained from the Library for publication or reproduction of any material within the archive. Please contact the Head of Special Collections, John Rylands Library, 150 Deansgate, Manchester, M3 3EH.

Appraisal Information

The collection has been weeded for duplicates, where there were multiple copies of publications. A number of files were also extracted from the collection which related to house deeds, modern architectural plans, tax returns and a small number of modern photographs of unidentified people. A significant number of utility bills were found within the collection and these have also been disposed of.

Custodial History

The papers of Tony Dyson and Cliff Tucker were generated at their home, which was for many years at 2 Streatley Place, Camden, London.

Related Material

Within the John Rylands Library, related material can be found in the Critical Quarterly Archive (CQA) and the Papers of Brian Cox (COX). Related materials are also held at other archives: The dom Illtud Evans Papers (ref. DIE) are housed at the Special Collections of University of Wales, Trinity St David. The records of the Albany Trust and the Homosexual Law Reform Society are held at the London School of Economics Special Collections (ref. HCA/Albany Trust).

Location of Originals

AED/2/1/2/22 is a file of photocopied letters, the originals can be found at the London School of Economics and Political Science Special Collections ref. HCA/DYSON


Dyson, A. E., The Fifth Dimension (Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1996).

Grey, Anthony, A. E. Dyson (1928-2002), The Gay and Lesbian Humanist, Accessed 26 July 2012.

Cox, Brian, Dyson, Anthony Edward (1928-2002), Oxford Dictionary of National Biography Accessed 26 November 2012

Anon, Cliff Tucker (December 18 1912-May 21 1993), Matt and Andrej Komaski Home, Accessed 26 November 2012.

This catalogue has also drawn on the obituaries of Cliff Tucker and Tony Dyson which are included in the collection at AED/1/5.