Papers of the Arvon Foundation

Scope and Content

Papers relating to the Arvon Foundation from the Lumb Bank and Totleigh Barton centres, and also from the London offices.

Administrative / Biographical History

The Arvon Foundation was founded in Devon in 1968 by two poets, John Fairfax and John Moat, prompted by their own struggles as writers and the discovery that there was nowhere in formal education that would offer the genuinely creative guidance they sought. In his memoir, 'The Founding of Arvon', John Moat writes:

'I came to see that the only person who can teach the technique of writing reliably is an experienced writer. That is because the teaching is proved by experience that is wholehearted and profoundly relevant'

Early on the pair made contact with Ted Hughes whose jaded view of formal English education matched theirs. Hughes, who was persuaded to read to the first group of school children attending a course at the Beaford Arts Centre in North Devon, became a passionate supporter and involved himself in the project from the start. He was active on various committees in the 1970s and 1980s, becoming the Foundation's President in 1973. Carol Hughes, who married Hughes in 1970, was Chairman of Arvon from 1986 until 1991 and the two were closely engaged with the growth of the organization and prime movers for many years on Arvon's creative fundraising body, then called the 'National Literature Initiative Committee'.

In 1972, Arvon began to run residential courses from an ancient Devon longhouse, Totleigh Barton, near Sheepwash. A few years later Ted Hughes offered the Foundation the use of Lumb Bank, an eighteenth-century mill owner's house in Yorkshire that had once been Hughes' home and which was eventually acquired by Arvon. A third centre, Moniack Mhor opened in 2000 in Scotland and then a fourth, John Osborne's former house, the Hurst, in Shropshire, in 2003.



Conditions Governing Access

Usual EUL arrangements apply. Some material is restricted due to data protection issues.

Acquisition Information

On temporary loan to the Library (2007).

Other Finding Aids

Not yet available.

Archivist's Note

Description created by Rob Ford, 4 Sep 2007.

Conditions Governing Use

Usual EUL restrictions apply.

Related Material

See also: MS 212, MS 230, MS 231, MS 272


Some of the this material has been published.