Papers of Kathleen Raine

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

6 letters and 4 postcards from Kathleen Raine to Ian Fletcher, with one reply and 24 TS, some revised, and autograph poems.

Administrative / Biographical History

Kathleen Raine was born in London in 1908, the adored only child of a schoolmaster and Methodist lay-preacher and his Scottish wife. Kathleen was sent to stay with an aunt in Northumberland for the duration of the First World War and always recalled this period as idyllic.

Kathleen was a gifted child who wrote poetry from a very early age but when she went up to Cambridge in 1926 it was to read Natural Sciences and then Moral Sciences. At Cambridge she began writing poetry seriously, was married briefly to a fellow student and then to Charles Madge, a fellow poet and sociologist with whom she had two children. This marriage broke up in 1940 and Kathleen's first book of poetry was published in 1943.

The love of Kathleen's life was the homosexual writer Gavin Maxwell, with whom she shared a love of Northumberland, but the relationship was doomed and ended in acrimony. After Maxwell's death in 1969 Kathleen Raine blamed herself for his misfortune and decline.

Throughout her life Kathleen Raine remained true to her vocation as a poet, writing and publishing regularly. She also wrote four volumes of very frank autobiography and several critical studies of William Blake and other writers.

In 1980 Kathleen's life took a new turn when, with a group of like-minded artists and writers, she launched Temenos, a review devoted to the arts of the imagination. For the rest of her life through this and the related Temenos academy Kathleen promoted the link between the arts and the sacred. Kathleen Raine died in 2003 at the age of 93.

Conditions Governing Access

Open to all researchers. No reader's ticket is required but an appointment is necessary. Check www.reading.ac.uk/special-collections/using/sc-using.asp for contact details and opening hours.

Acquisition Information

Letters gift of Ian Fletcher; poems bought from Alan Clodd 1981

Other Finding Aids

There are no finding aids

Archivist's Note

This description was compiled by Gil Skidmore