Papers of John Fairfax relating to the establishment of the Arvon Foundation

Scope and Content

This collection consists of the personal archive of Fairfax relating to the initial establishment of the Arvon Foundation and its gradual growth into a structured organisation. The following types of papers are included within the collection, c 1971-c 1991:

Letters from course students; poems by course students; correspondence relating to course organisation and lists of courses; course details; committee papers (minutes, annual reports, accounts, course director reports etc.); letters to Fairfax on a wide range of topics associated with the organisation of Arvon; Foundation newsletters. Of particular interest are papers on the establishment of the various residential centres, and notes by Fairfax on how the Foundation came into existence. Also included are audio tapes of poetry readings by various writers who were involved with Arvon, including Fleur Adcock, Gavin Ewart, Douglas Dunn, Alan Brownjohn, Pete Morgan, Anthony Thwaite, Peter Porter, Peter Redgrave, Penelope Shuttle, Ronald Duncan and Michael Horowitz; recorded at Totleigh Barton writing courses by John Fairfax, 1970s.

Administrative / Biographical History

John Fairfax (1930- ) is a writer educated in Devon who has retained strong links with the county throughout his writing career. Nephew of George Barker, he has a particular interest in installation art and poetry. Publications of John Fairfax include: The way to write: a complete guide to the basic skills of good writing (co-written with John Moat, and with a foreword by Ted Hughes) (1981), Creative Writing (1989), Frontier of going: an anthology of space poetry (selected and with an introduction by John Fairfax) (1969), Stop and listen: an anthology of thirteen living poets (compiled by John Fairfax) (1969), The fifth horseman of the apocalypse (1969), One hundred poems (1992), Bone harvest done poems (1980), Horizons (ed.) (1971), This I say: twelve poems (1966), Wild Children (1985) and Zuihitsu poetic journal and jottings (1996).

charity, running residential creative writing courses for songwriters, poets, novelists, script and screenwriters, playwrights and journalists at four centres throughout the United Kingdom.


Letters are arranged in a rough chronological order.

Access Information

Access to some areas of the collection may be restricted due to Data Protection requirements: please contact the Archivist for details.

Other Finding Aids

Not currently listed.

Physical Characteristics and/or Technical Requirements

Please check in advance with the Archivist if you require access to the audio recordings.

Archivist's Note

Description compiled by Charlotte Berry, Archivist, 25 April 2005, and revised 3 June 2005. Encoded into EAD, 3 June 2005.

Conditions Governing Use

Reproduction of some areas of the collection may be restricted due to Data Protection requirements: please contact the Archivist for details.

Custodial History

Purchased by the Library in 2005.

Related Material

Other literary papers of Fairfax are also held at Special Collections (EUL MS 231). The official archive of the Archon Foundation is retained by the Foundation.


It is not known whether this collection has formed the basis for publication.