F. R. Leavis collection

Scope and Content

Letters from F R Leavis to various recipients including David Holbrook, Frank Bradbrook, C B Winder, R O C Winkler, A I Doyle, John Tasker, Geoffrey Walton, Canon Frank Telfer, Ronald Hayman, Robert Tudor Jones, Peter Coveney and others. These letters have all been donated by their respective recipients or their relatives and cover a wide variety of topics, including Leavis's teaching at Cambridge and afterwards, views on various authors and poets and requests for and responses to articles for 'Scrutiny'. Also included are some newspaper articles and photos, memoirs by former students and correspondence concerning donation.

Administrative / Biographical History

Frank Raymond Leavis (1895-1978) was a Fellow at Downing College, 1936-62, and Honorary Fellow from 1962-4. He matriculated at Emmanuel College shortly before the outbreak of the First World War, but joined the Friends Ambulance Unit after his first year, later working with the FAU behind the Western Front in France. When he returned to Cambridge in 1919 he changed to the newly-founded English school, graduating with a First and completing his PhD on 'The Relationship of Journalism to Literature'. He was appointed Director of Studies in English at Downing College in 1931, the start of more than thirty years' teaching at the College, during which he became one of the most influential literary critics of the 20th century. He founded and edited the literary journal 'Scrutiny' from 1932-1953, with his wife, Q. D. Leavis. In later life Dr Leavis took up visiting professorships at the University of York and several other Universities. He died in Cambridge in 1978.


Arranged by donor/correspondent, generally chronologically within series.

Access Information

Some letters are sensitive or confidential and remain closed. A more detailed catalogue of open letters is available to visiting researchers.

Acquisition Information

Various individual donations from correspondents (often pupils of Dr Leavis and alumni of Downing College).

Other Finding Aids

Handlist of open letters available to visiting academic researchers.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright retained by Dr Leavis's literary executors. Permission required for reproduction.



Related Material

Downing College Archives DCPP/MAS (Papers of Harold Mason)
Downing College Archives DCPP/COX (Papers of R. Gordon Cox)