John Wain Archive

Scope and Content

The oldest material in MSS 2851-2875 is dated 1986, and includes essays; drafts of, and corrections to The contenders, The take-over bid, and The smaller sky; revised text, and corrected typescript of The young visitors; publisher's copy of, and notebooks relating to A winter in the hills; revision to, and radio adaptation of A winter in the hills; drafts and copies of poems; lectures; drafts of Harry in the night; work relating to Samuel Johnson; passages and fragments from The pardoner's tale; various notebooks; and, drafts of Frank, Young shoulders, Lizzie's floating shop, and Good morning blues. In MSS 3124-3137 there is material dated from the 1980s up to 1994 and containing manuscripts and typescripts for radio plays; manuscripts and typescripts of Volume 1 and 2 of the Oxford Trilogy, these being, Where the rivers meet, and Comedies; transcript material and draft material from Volume 3 of the Oxford Trilogy, Hungry generations; and, material for a projected Volume 4 of the Oxford Trilogy, The end of war. There are letters and diaries, and notebooks containing miscellaneous ideas, drafts, outlines, quotations, telephone numbers and travel notes.

In addition, at E95.70 there is a poem Arrival, and at E95.71 a play Spade.

E94.57 is a funeral address for Wain.

Administrative / Biographical History

The author John Barrington Wain, 1925-1994, was Professor of Poetry at University of Oxford, 1973-78. He was born in Stoke-on-Trent and educated at the High School, Newcastle-under-Lyme, and then St John's College, Oxford, where he became Fereday Fellow, 1946-49. He was a Lecturer in English Literature at the University of Reading, 1947-55, and on resignation became a freelance author and critic. Like contemporary figures, Kingsley Amis, Philip Larkin, and John Braine, Wain began publishing just as Britain was recovering from the Second World War. It was a time when writers were reacting against the orthodoxies of modernism. Wain was one of the Angry Young Men. His fictional works included Hurry on down (1953); Living in the present (1955); The contenders (1958); A travelling woman (1959); Nuncle and other stories (1960); Strike the father dead (1962); The young visitors (1965); Death of the hind legs and other stories (1966); The smaller sky (1967); A winter in the hills (1970); The Life Guard and other stories (1971); The pardoner's tale (1978); Lizzie's floating shop (1981); Young shoulders (1982); Where the rivers meet (1988); Comedies (1990); Johnson is leaving: a monodrama (1994); and, Hungry generations (1994). In addition he wrote poetry and plays and also did much work as an editor, critic, biographer, anthologist, reviewer and broadcaster. The literary manuscripts of John Barrington Wain were deposited in 1974, and subsequently added to by the author until 1986, when the whole deposit was purchased by the Library with the help of the Local Museums Purchase Fund. These manuscripts constitute MSS 2851-2874. Some items were deposited after 1985 and these, along with the manuscripts in the possession of the author at his death were purchased in 1996, with the aid of the National Fund for Acquisitions. These manuscripts constitute MSS 3124-3137. Further manuscripts were found by his family subsequently and were gifted in December 1997. The manuscript of his first novel, Hurry on Down (1953), has not survived, but notebooks, manuscripts and typescripts of most of his later novels, short stories, poetry, plays and criticism are present.

Access Information

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Other Finding Aids

Handlist, H29

Archivist's Note