Papers of Andrew Peter Motion

Scope and Content

Comprises a notebook containing ms. drafts of several poems as well as research notes.

Administrative / Biographical History

Andrew Motion was born in 1952, the son of Andrew Richard Motion and Catherine Gillian Motion. His mother had a riding accident when he was 17 and was very ill throughout his formative years, before she died seven years later. After an inspiring sixth form teacher introduced him to the poetry of Hardy, Motion has said that he wrote to keep the memory of his mother alive. He went to Radley College before attending University College, Oxford, where he studied with W.H. Auden. He won the university's Newdigate Prize and graduated with a first class degree in 1974.

Between 1977 and 1981 he worked as a lecturer in English at Hull University and while there had his first collection of poems, The Pleasure Steamers, published by Carcanet in 1978. At Hull he met university Librarian and poet Philip Larkin. Motion was later appointed as one of Larkin's literary executors which would privilege Motion's role as his biographer following Larkin's death in 1985. He returned to Oxford as editor of Poetry Review 1981 to 1983, and worked as editorial director at Chatto & Windus from 1983 to 1989. He has published many collections of poems, novels and criticism and in 2003 became Professor of Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia.

He has also published Independence (1981); Secret Narratives (1983); Dangerous Plays: Poems 1974 - 1984 (1984); Natural Causes (1987) and Love in a Life (1991). He is the author of two critical books The Poetry of Edward Thomas (1980) and Philip Larkin (1982); novels, including the Pale Companion (1989) and biographies of The Lamberts: George Constant and Kit (1986) and Philip Larkin: a writer's life (1993).

Sir Andrew Motion married Joanna Jane Powell in 1973 and Janet Elizabeth Dalley in 1985. He has two sons . He was appointed Poet Laureate in May 1999. As laureate, he also founded the Poetry Archive, an on-line library of historic and contemporary recordings of poets reciting their own work. He is also Chairman of the Arts Council of England's Literature Panel (appointed 1996) and is also a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.[3] Since July 2009, Motion was been Chairman of the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council (MLA). He was also knighted in 2009.

Access Information

Access will be granted to any accredited reader

Custodial History

Purchased from Andrew Motion, 1979

Related Material

Papers of Philip Larkin [U DPL]

Related material in other repositories:

John Rylands Library (Manchester); National Sound Archives; Bodleian Library (Oxford); King's College (Cambridge); Eton School Library


  • Corcoran, Neil, English Poetry since 1940 (1993)
  • Hulse, Michael, 'I could have outlived myself there: the poetry of Andrew Motion', Critical Quarterly, vol. 28 no.3 (1986)
  • Who's who (1997)