University of Birmingham Staff Papers: Papers of Nikolai Bachtin

Scope and Content

About 70 folders and notebooks relating to the proposed edition of Plato's Cratylus; biographical notes on Bachtin by academic colleagues and others; other miscellaneous folders and notebooks; various lectures and lecture notes on Tolstoy, Mayakovsky, Pushkin, linguistics, realism in drama, the place of poetry in a capitalist state; essays and essay notes on Homer and Greek history in French; le myth et la rlalit historique in French; notebooks in French; a mixture of lectures in Russian and English; writings; notes; correspondence; some newspaper articles by Bachtin in Russian; manuscript items sent by Russian emigre writers to Bachtin; poetry manuscripts in English and Russian.

A later deposit comprises writings, poetry, lectures, biographical sketches, records of conversations. A recent purchase comprises exercise and notebooks containing hundreds of poems in various stages of completion, largely unpublished and unknown; lectures, letters and other personal papers.

Administrative / Biographical History

Nikolai Bachtin was born in 1894 in Orel, Russia where his father was a civil servant and a member of the old nobility. After matriculating in 1913 at the University of St Petersburg, he enlisted as a hussar, fought in the First World War, and served for several years in the Foreign Legion in North Africa, until he was wounded in 1923. He moved to Paris in 1924 where he had a brief and successful period on the editorial board of the Russian emigre journal Zveno(the Link), in which he published more than 50 of his own articles and reviews, before resuming his classical studies in Paris and Cambridge. He moved permanently to England in 1932, and from 1938 until his death in 1950 he taught classics and later linguistics at Birmingham University.

Reference: Deposit file.

For further reading about the University of Birmingham see: Eric Ives, Diane Drummond, Leonard Schwarz The First Civic University: Birmingham 1880-1980 An Introductory History (The University of University of Birmingham Press. 2000).


The collection is uncatalogued.

Access Information

Open. Access to all registered researchers.

Acquisition Information

This collection has been acquired by the Special Collections Department in a series of gifts and purchases between 1960 and 2001.

Other Finding Aids

Brief paper box lists are available on request.

Conditions Governing Use

Permission to make any published use of any material from the collection must be sought in advance in writing from the University Archivist, Special Collections. Identification of copyright holders of unpublished material is often difficult. Special Collections will assist where possible with identifying copyright owners, but responsibility for ensuring copyright clearance rests with the user of the material.


Further deposits are not expected.

Related Material

University of Birmingham Information Services, Special Collections Department also holds the archives of the University of Birmingham and archives of other former staff, officials and students.


A selection of Bachtin's unpublished classical and linguistic writings were published by the University of Birmingham Press in 1963, containing essays, lectures on aspects of Greek, Russian and English Literature and a short biographical introduction.