Patricia Beer, literary and personal papers

Scope and Content

The collection includes papers relating to the following manuscripts 'Wessex', 'After Pushkin', 'Reader, I married him', 'Loss of the Magyar', 'Mrs Beer's House', 'Moon's Ottery', 'The Truth of the Imagination: a lecture by Patricia Beer', 'Armada', 'An introduction to the metaphysical poets', 'As I was saying yesterday, essays', 'The Starcross Ferry' (unfinished), 'The Writing of Poetry' (provisional title; unpublished), together with additional poetry manuscripts. Also included are audio cassettes of broadcasts for the BBC together with scripts and correspondence, notebooks, desk diaries, journals, address books, a small collection of private correspondence, family papers and miscellaneous papers.

Administrative / Biographical History

Patricia Beer was born in Exmouth, Devon on 4 November 1919. She was the younger daughter of Andrew William Beer, a railway clerk at Exeter station and his wife Harriet Jeffery, a schoolteacher. She was educated at Exmouth Grammar School and took a first-class degree in English at Exeter University, after which, in 1941, she went up to St Hugh's College, Oxford to study for a BLitt. On completion of her formal education Beer travelled to Italy where she taught at the University of Padua (1947-9), The British Institute in Rome (1949-51), and the Minstero della Aeronautica, Rome (1951-3). She returned to England in 1953 and published her first collection of poems 'Loss of the Magyar' 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, publishing a study of Victorian women novelists entitled 'Reader, I married him' in 1974. 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.

Her publications explored themes of nature and topography, good and evil, love, religion, ritual and mortality. They include the following, poetic works, 'Loss of the Magyar (1959), 'The Survivors' (1963), 'Just Like the Resurrection' (1967), 'The Estuary' (1971), 'Driving West' (1975), 'Selected Poems' (1979),'The Lie of the Land' (1983), 'Collected Poems' (1988), 'Friend of Heraclitus' (1993), 'Autumn' (1997). She also published a work of fiction, 'Moon's Ottery' (1978) and the memoir 'Mrs Beer's House' (1968). Beer also reviewed for The Listener, the Daily Telegraph, the Times Literary Supplement and the London Review of Books. A Collection of her reviews, 'As I was Saying', was published posthumously in 2002.


Partially arranged by Patricia Beer's husband, Damien Parsons, prior to accession.

Conditions Governing Access

Usual EUL Conditions apply.

Other Finding Aids



Archivist's Note

Collection Description compiled by Christine Faunch, Archivist, 12 Sept 2007. Revised by Rob Ford, 11 Oct 2007. Catalogued and revisedby Helen Jones, 16 Dec 2008. Revised by Christine Faunch, Archive Curator, 30 Apr and 18 May 2009, 19 May 2010.

Conditions Governing Use

Usual EUL Restrictions apply.

Custodial History

After Beer's death in 1999 the archive remained with her husband Damien Parsons and was donated by him and his co-executor, Georgina Hammick, to Special Collections in 2007.

Related Material

Patricia Beer's own reading of some of her poems can be accessed on the Poetry Archive website;. See also: EUL MS 50a/LIT/5/2 and EUL MS 405. Beer's correspondence can also be found in the Brotherton Collection, Brotherton Library, Leeds. In addition, the Worldcat database (via Firstsearch) contains fourteen references to related archival material but gives no indication as to where these archives are held. See also Supplement XIV to 'British Writers' (2009) by Lawrence Sail.