Papers of Professor Janko Lavrin (1887-1986), writer and professor of Slavonic languageand literature, 1921-1985

Scope and Content

The collection is uneven in its coverage of Lavrin's distinguished career. No records are presentfor his life before settling in England. Very little correspondence has survived. Items ofcorrespondence that are present survived largely by accident, lying within books or files. Thecollection comprises:

  • Drafts of broadcasts made by Lavrin, 1938-1969 (JL B);
  • Correspondence received by Lavrin, 1924-1985 (JL C);
  • Typescript drafts of nineteen semi-autobiographical short stories by Lavrin, subsequently partlypublished in 1956, 1945-1955 (JL F);
  • Literary translations made by Lavrin, 1969 (JL T);
  • Copies of printed works published by Lavrin, 1922-1962 (JL P);
  • Miscellaneous items belonging to Lavrin, 1921-1947 (JL X);
  • Recent accruals including correspondence between Janko Lavrin and his wife Nora, photographs ofJanko Lavrin, and copies of documents relating to him.

Administrative / Biographical History

Janko Lavrin was born on 10 February 1887 in Krupa, Bela Krajina, Slovenia. He left Slovenia in1908 for St Petersburg where he studied the Russian language and Russian literature. He waspublisher and co-editor of the journal Slavyanshiy mir (The Slavonic World) and on hisown account wrote and translated several books. He collaborated on the newspaper Novoyevremya (The New Age) from 1912 until his arrival in England, contributing articlesdealing specifically with Slavonic politics and literature and serving as war correspondent with theSerbian army on its retreat through Albania in 1915-16. His book In the land of eternal war:Albanian sketches was published in Petrograd in 1916 and described his war experiences.

Called back to Petrograd in the summer of 1917, he broke his journey in London, where he chose toremain following the outbreak of revolution in Russia. He was appointed a lecturer in Russian atUniversity College Nottingham in 1918 and became Professor of Slavonic Studies in the 1920-21session. He established many literary and academic contacts in London, contributed to the literaryperiodical The New Age, was appointed to the Board of Slavonic Studies at the University ofLondon and an Honorary Reader at King's College in 1928. In the inter-war years, Lavrin publishedmany books and articles on Russian and European literature. While at Nottingham, he and his wifeNora (n e Fry, 1895-1985), a distinguished artist and book illustrator, made the acquaintance ofJessie Wood (n e Chambers, childhood friend of D.H. Lawrence).

In the early 1930s, with the establishment of a separate Department of Slavonic Studies, Lavrinsupervised Nottingham's first doctoral thesis in his field. In the session 1941-42, he resigned hispost at University College Nottingham to join the Editorial Board of European Broadcasts of the BBCand, during the war, he broadcast regularly to occupied Europe. In 1944-45, he returned toUniversity College as head of the department on a part-time basis and in 1948-49, when the Collegebecame The University of Nottingham, he received an ex-officio Master of Arts. Lavrin retired fromthe University in 1952 but continued as a translator, writer on Russian literature, and remainedactive in the academic field of Slavonic Studies. He died in London on 13 August 1986.

Lavrin's principal works are: Tolstoy: a psycho-critical study (London, 1922), Studiesin European Literature (London 1929), Aspects of Modernism: from Wilde to Pirandello(London, 1935), An Introduction to the Russian Novel (New York and London, 1943),Dostoevsky: a study (New York, 1943), Tolstoy: an approach (London, 1948), FromPushkin to Mayakovsky: a study in the evolution of literature (London, 1948), NickolaiGogol (London, 1951), and Groncharov (Cambridge, 1954).


The collection has been divided by document type into series. Within these series, items havebeen arranged chronologically.

Access Information

ACCESS: Advance notice is essential for access to thiscollection. Series JL B,C,F,P,T and X can be made available to all registered readers. Access isrestricted to the remainder of the collection until full cataloguing has taken place.

REPROGRAPHIC: Reprographic copies can be supplied for educational use and private study purposesonly, depending on access status and the condition of the documents.

Other Finding Aids

NOTE: Copyright on all Finding Aids belongs to the University of Nottingham.

This description is the only finding aid publicly available for the collection at present,although descriptions of the accrual series has been prepared and can be output from the database onrequest.

Conditions Governing Use

COPYRIGHT: Permission to make published use of any material from this collection must be soughtin advance in writing from the Keeper of the Department of Manuscripts and Special Collections(email TheDepartment will try to assist in identifying copyright owners but this can be difficult and theresponsibility for copyright clearance before publication ultimately rests with the person wishingto publish.

LANGUAGE: English, Slovene and Russian

Custodial History

Personal and literary papers were acquired by The University of Nottingham's Department ofManuscripts and Special Collections directly from Lavrin and his family in a number of parts between1979 and 2000. In addition, several items and groups of papers have been added by former colleaguesand friends between 1987 and 2002.

Related Material

  • The University of Nottingham; Department of Manuscripts and Special Collections:correspondence with and references to Professor Lavrin in connection with Jessie Wood (ne Chambers)in the D.H. Lawrence Collection. GB 159 La
  • The University of Nottingham; Department of Manuscripts and Special Collections:correspondence between Professor Lavrin and Monica Partridge, 1979-1985. ACC 712 and ACC 799