Papers of Dr Charles Granston Richards

Scope and Content

Papers, 1935-1995, of Charles Granston Richards, comprising articles, reports, books, pamphlets and correspondence reflecting his work and interests. The papers cover his work with the Church Missionary Society in Kenya, East African Literary Bureau, Oxford University Press, Christian Literature Fund and Agency for Christian Literature Development in addition to his retirement years.

Administrative / Biographical History

Charles Granston Richards was born in 1908. He went to Kenya in 1935 as a missionary for the Church Missionary Society, with special responsibility for the encouragement of literacy and literature among East Africans. Working through the Church Missionary Society (CMS) Bookshop in Nairobi, he became a publisher - for example, under the imprint of the Highway Press. In 1948, following an appraisal by Elspeth Huxley, the East African Governor's Conference decided to set up an East African Literature Bureau (EALB). Charles Richards wrote the report which led to its establishment and became its first Director. The EALB included in this collection. Richards remained Director of the East African Literature Bureau for fifteen years.

In 1963 Dr. Richards moved to the Oxford University Press to build up its publishing in East Africa, but in 1964 the OUP released him to work part-time in setting up what became the Christian Literature Fund (CLF) of the World Council of Churches. Richards was full-time Director of the CLF from 1965-1970, and of its successor, the Agency for Christian Literature Development (ACLD) from 1970-1974. The offices of the CLF were in Lausanne, but Richards was constantly 'in the field', as his Tour reports indicate. In December 1974 Dr. Richards retired as Director of the ACLD, which was then replaced by the Print Media Development Unit (PMDU) of the new World Association for Christian Communication (WACC), under the Acting Director, Reverend A. D. Manuel. Richards maintained an active association with the PMDU, and with other agencies concerned with literature and literacy. He served on the British Committee on Literacy, conducted an evaluation of the South African Bureau of Literacy, investigated the progress of the East African Venture, which he had helped to start while at the ACLD, and continued to give talks on his past work.


The arrangement of these papers is broadly chronological, following the main stages of Dr. Richards' career: personal papers (1939-1978); with the Missionary Society in Kenya (1935-1948); director of the East African Literature Bureau (1948-1963); with the Oxford University Press in Africa (1964-1965); Director of the Christian Literature Fund (1965-1970); Director of the Agency for Christian Literature Development (1970-1974); in retirement (1975-); miscellaneous.

Within the three principal agencies of which Dr. Richards was Director, the East African Literature Bureau, Christian Literature Fund and the Agency for Christian Literature, a common pattern of arrangement has been followed:

First - documents relating to the setting up of the agency

Second - official papers of the agency (Minutes, Reports)

Third - documents illustrating the work of the agency

Fourth - articles and talks publicising the work of the agency

Fifth - photographs.

In addition, the collection contains a large number of printed books and pamphlets, and some of these have been placed outside the chronological arrangement. Books and pamphlets collected by Dr. Richards for use in his work have been split off from the work itself, and are listed separately (PP MS 12/LIB/1-74, pp.17-20 of the handlist). Other printed works, for example articles by Richards or sponsored by him, are listed in the appropriate chronological section.

Access Information

Material relating to East African Venture Box 13 is closed

Restrictions Apply

Acquisition Information

Donated in 1991, 1992 and 1993.

Other Finding Aids

Unpublished handlist.

Conditions Governing Use

For permission to publish, please contact Archives & Special Collections, SOAS Library in the first instance

Related Material

Church Missionary Society Archives, University of Birmingham Library.

Kenya Missionary Papers, Rhodes House Library, Oxford.