Laurie Lee Papers

Scope and Content

Papers and correspondence of Laurence Edward Alan Lee (b. 1914, d. 1997), hereafter referred to as Laurie Lee. The collection consists of drafts of Lee's poetical, dramatic and prose works, with final texts of most of them. The first drafts are autograph, usually with many revisions and re-workings. On the reverse of most leaves of these drafts are the typescripts of radio plays and documentary programmes produced by the BBC and given to Lee by Louis MacNeice (see his interview in 'The Writer's story', broadcast on 16 Feb. 1979). Subsequent drafts are typewritten, but are still re-typed several times and include further autograph amendments. There are some proof sheets, also amended and a few copies of final publication, especially of cuttings of articles written for periodicals. Some of these are further amended for re-publication in Lee's anthology I can't stay long. Lee's papers, diaries and notes relating to the writing of the works and correspondence relating to the text of each work is placed with the texts, but correspondence relating to the publishing, marketing and reprinting of the works is placed with correspondence of the relevant publisher in the section 'Literary correspondence and papers'. This section also includes correspondence generated by Lee's literary fame and output, including 'fan mail' and requests for him to read, visit, give information, receive honours, etc. The personal correspondence sometimes impinges on his literary activities, but is largely arranged in the order which Messrs Quaritch placed the correspondence before selling it to the British Library. It also includes correspondence of other members of Lee's family. Almost all letters are addressed to Lee and there are very few, mostly photocopies, notes on envelopes for possible replies or unsent drafts, letters by Lee himself in the collection.


Mostly British Library arrangement.

1. Poetry. Add MS 88936/1/1-24.

2. Prose works. Add MS 88936/2/1-214.

3. Dramatic works. Add MS 88936/3/1-11.

4. Literary correspondence and papers. Add MS 88936/4/1-133.

5. Personal correspondence and papers. Add MS 88936/5/1-106.

6. Critical and biographical writings about Lee, including press cuttings. Add MS 88936/6/1-18.

7. Miscellaneous papers. Add MS 88936/7/1-4.

Access Information

Available for research unless otherwise stated

Not Public Record(s)

Acquisition Information

Purchased from Messrs Bernard Quaritch, 2002.

Physical Characteristics and/or Technical Requirements

Paper and photographs


The standard biography of Lee is Valerie Grove, Laurie Lee: the well loved stranger (London: Viking, 1999), hereafter 'Grove', which reprints a number of letters to and from Lee, and was based on this collection before its acquisition by the British Library.