Literary and personal papers of Ted Walker

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

Literary papers, including manuscripts, typescripts, printed material and correspondence of Ted Walker.

The material encompasses a combination of literary and personal papers, dating from 1960 until c.1998. In terms of literary papers, the collection includes a broad selection of Walker's poetry, ranging from the mid-sixties ('Tiger', 'Oaksonnet', 'Whale', 'Thamesprings', 'Over the juniper downs…', 'You lay fresh-furrowed clay…', 'Porpoises', 'The Mushrooms', 'My father's gloves', 'Song', 'Cowman', 'Founder') through to the early seventies ('Letter to Barbados', 'Home Made Wedding Card for George and Janet', 'The Elephants' and a translation from Lecomte de Lisle) and late nineties ('Uncle George', 'For His Dead Wife', 'Carpenter and Son', 'Fetching Water', 'In the Back Yard', 'The Regatta', 'Poem for my Mother'). The papers also include a manuscript of Walker's novel 'Spain' (1987). Other printed materials found within the collection are notes on a Betjeman lecture delivered by Walker (1986), issues of the literary periodical 'Priapus' (1962-64), and a short story (1973). The personal papers comprise of two sets of letters; the first contains correspondence from between 1960 and 1966 to Walker's brother George, the second consists of thirteen later letters (1979) , some of which contain enclosures of poems and news cuttings written to George and other family members.

Administrative / Biographical History

Ted Walker, poet, dramatist and author, was born Edward Joseph Walker on 28th November 1934 in Lancing, West Sussex. He was educated at Steyning Grammar School and St John's College, Cambridge where he read Modern Languages. He married Lorna Benfall in 1956, to whom he had been engaged since the age of fifteen. The couple had four children between the years 1958 and 1964.

Alongside of his career as a writer, Walker worked as a teacher, initially in London and later in Sussex. He was the Head of Modern Language at a school in Bognor Regis from 1963 - 1965, before taking up the post of Professor of Creative Writing and English Literature at New England College from 1971 - 1992. As a poet, Walker rose to prominence during the 1960s, winning the Eric Gregory Award in 1964 and penning some of his best known collections thereafter: Fox on a Barn Door (1965), The Solitaries (1967), The Night Bathers (1970), Gloves to the Hangman (1973) and Burning the Ivy (1978). In 1966, he won the Cholmondeley Award. He also wrote short stories for the New Yorker during the 1960s, which were later published along with other material in two books, You've Never Heard Me Sing (1985) and He Danced with a Chair (2001).

During the eighties and nineties, Walker established himself as a screenwriter, working on the BBC comedy series Big Jim and the Figaro Club (1981) and the television film A Family Man (1984). He gained a BAFTA nomination for his screenplays of The Wind in the Willows (1995) and The Willows in Winter (1996), written for ITV. In 1995, he also received an honorary DLitt from the University of Southampton and was a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.

Following the death of his first wife from cancer in 1987 (a subject addressed in his 1992 poetry collection The Last of England) he married Audrey Hicks the following year. The couple later relocated to Valencia, Spain where he died on 19th March 2004.

Conditions Governing Access

Usual EUL conditions apply

Acquisition Information

Library purchase

Other Finding Aids

Handlist available

Archivist's Note

Description compiled by Sue Inskip and Genevieve Timmins, Feb 2014

Conditions Governing Use

Usual EUL restrictions apply

Related Material

The Ted Walker Archive at the University of Chichester holds of a number published works, scripts, letters, reviews and correspondence.