Papers of Allen Freer

Scope and Content

The archive is wide-ranging and reflects the whole scope of Allen Freer's activities, both professional and personal. His work as an English teacher and a school inspector, and his innovative approach to teaching creative writing, are documented in the form of: letters from artists such as Edward Bawden, Terry Frost, William Gear, Walter Hodges, Leonard McComb, Winifred Nicholson, William Scott and Keith Vaughan, relating to work purchased or commissioned by Freer on behalf of the Education Authority in Manchester as teaching resource material; letters from proprietors of private presses like the Trianon Press and Whittington Press, relating to the supply of illustrated books for the same teaching resource; copies of Willmott, the magazine of John Willmott Grammar School, dating from the 1960s and containing creative writing and interviews by pupils with artists; an offprint of Freer's article 'English and the Creative Arts: Creative Writing and the Fertile Image', from English in Education, Vol. 3, No. 2 (Summer 1969), and cuttings on the same subject; copies of poems written by school pupils; letters from other teachers of English and creative writing; and letters from ex-pupils who remained in contact with Freer, such as John Willmin, who became a successful silversmith. There is also a substantial number of in-letters from poets, writers and other figures involved in the Arts, who came to read, lecture or run workshops on courses for pupils and teachers organized by Freer. These include letters from those who participated on more than one occasion (some returning on a regular basis) during the 1970s, such as Ronald Blythe, Alan Brownjohn, David Gascoyne, Phoebe Hesketh, Frances Horovitz, Glyn Hughes, Roland Mathias, Norman Nicholson, Peter Porter, Jon Silkin and Anthony Thwaite. There are also letters from a further body of individuals (principally writers) responding to Freer's invitations to give readings, and making arrangements for one-off visits; figures represented include Dannie Abse, Nina Bawden, Patricia Beer, Melvyn Bragg, Leonard Clark, Charles Causley, Edward Craig, Margaret Drabble, Douglas Dunn, Geoffrey Hill, Jeremy Hooker, James Kirkup, Vernon Scannell, Alan Sillitoe, Jon Stallworthy, Basil Taylor, R.S. Thomas and Charles Tomlinson; there is also a small amount of material relating to workshops by Ted Hughes which includes a letter from his wife, Carol. Some of the correspondence with visiting writers originally formed part of an official filing system: file names are noted at the top of various letters, and some of the letters are addressed to colleagues at the Manchester Education Committee. Arranging visits is not, of course, the only topic discussed in these letters, which will be of interest more generally to anyone interested in the poets represented.

Freer's activities as an enthusiastic collector of art are amply documented; he frequently dealt directly with artists, who sometimes became personal friends. Their letters relate to topics such as: arrangements for Freer to view and purchase artwork; arrangements for him to sell work on the behalf of artists; his organization of exhibitions to promote their work; and discussion of other activities, current projects, and thoughts on art. There are larger accumulations of in-letters (ranging from 8 to 25 items) from artists Edward Bawden, Prunella Clough, Terry Frost, Josef Herman, Ivon Hitchens, John Hitchens, Leonard McComb, John Nash, Mary Newcomb, Winifred Nicholson, Ian Pollock, William Scott and Keith Vaughan; smaller quantities and single letters are included from other artists such as Eileen Agar, Douglas Percy Bliss, John Craxton, William Gear, Blair Hughes-Stanton, Percy Kelly, Alan Lowndes, Gregory Masurovsky, John Piper, Reynolds Stone, Graham Sutherland and Donald Wilkinson. There are also in-letters from potters with whom Freer dealt as a collector, including Michael Cardew, Jim Malone, Katherine Pleydell-Bouverie and Lucie Rie, as well as a number of craftspeople producing handmade furniture, silverwork and other items. Other in-letters also reflect Freer's interest in the visual arts and his activities as a collector, including: correspondence with directors of art galleries relating to loans of work owned by Freer for exhibitions, the purchase of work from Freer's collection by galleries, and gifts of material he made to galleries, as well as discussion of current trends in the art world; letters from art historians and critics, including John Berger, Paul Hills, Hugh Honour, John Rothenstein and Basil Taylor; correspondence with fellow private collectors, notably a large bundle of letters from Rose Knox-Peebles, another passionate collector of twentieth-century British art; and numerous letters from friends and acquaintances expressing their gratitude at being able to view Freer's collection, and offering their thoughts on it - in some cases commenting on how it has made them reconsider their views on particular artists. Freer's interest in fine printing and the relationship between text and image is reflected in letters from proprietors of private presses, relating either to books Freer was planning to purchase, or to publishing projects with which he was actively involved (sometimes there is also publicity material or samples of work from the presses concerned); those represented include Simon Lawrence of the Fleece Press, Douglas Cleverdon of Clover Hill Editions, John Randle of Whittington Press, David Wishart of Hayloft Press, Will Carter of Rampant Lions Press, and Arnold and Julie Fawcus of Trianon Press.

Allen Freer's work as an artist in his own right is also reflected in the archive: there is material (including correspondence, proofs, and publications) relating to his illustrations for Phoebe Hesketh's A ring of leaves and Netting the sun; similar material relating to his illustrations for H.J. Massingham's Fifteen poems; a set of 27 original drawings produced by Freer to illustrate T.R. Henn's Five arches; letters and papers relating to the publication of Jon Silkin's poem Jerusalem, with a lithograph by Freer, in 1977 (including Silkin's holograph manuscript of the poem); letters from Christopher Milne (son of A.A. Milne) relating to the possibility of Freer illustrating his book The windfall, a project which was not ultimately realized; 10 hand-coloured lithographs by Freer; 17 original watercolour drawings by Freer which were sent to Penelope Massingham, usually as cards; in-letters from many correspondents expressing their gratitude for Christmas and other greetings cards containing watercolours by Freer; publicity material relating to exhibitions in which his work was shown, in particular papers relating to his first one-man London exhibition in 1976; and letters containing comments on and responses to his exhibitions from other artists and acquaintances.

The archive includes important material relating to Freer's research projects. His work on the artist Albert Richards is represented in the form of: research material including typed transcripts and photocopies of original letters sent by Richards to the Artists' Advisory Council during the Second World War; correspondence (copies of Freer's outgoing letters as well as incoming letters) with various individuals and organizations relating to his research enquiries (this includes some letters from Hannah Richards, Albert's mother); letters relating to the Rose of death exhibition at the Imperial War Museum; drafts of Freer's long essay on Richards used as the introduction to the Rose of death exhibition catalogue, and a copy of the published catalogue. His Thomas Hennell research is more extensively documented, and relevant material includes: some original documents written by Hennell himself; an original letter to Hennell from John Betjeman; a transcript of Hennell's 'Dream Diary' from the 1930s; a transcript of a radio memorial programme devoted to Hennell by the painter Vincent Lines; photocopy typescript of 'Lady Filmy Fern, or The Voyage of the Window Box', a fantasy by Hennell; copies of Hennell's original letters to the War Artists' Advisory Committee; letters from E. Owen Jennings, Hennell's Artistic Executor, who forwarded correspondence of his own relating to Hennell, dating back to the 1940s (also included in the archive); letters from artists and craftspeople who knew Hennell, and friends of his including Graham Sutherland, Edward Bawden, Delmar Banner, A.S. Hartrick, Sheila Clark (sister of Vincent Lines), and Hennell's sister Betty; and letters from others relating to Freer's Hennell-related enquiries (including a letter from the poet David Wright). Hennell's connection with the writer H.J. Massingham led Freer to contact Massingham's widow, Penelope, and their correspondence is included in the archive; Massingham also provided Freer with a number of letters sent to her husband, which also form part of the archive; these include letters from the artist John Piper, the writer H.E. Bates, and the historian Veronica Wedgwood.

There is also a small amount of material relating to Freer's other projects and publications. The author Ronald Blythe comments in his correspondence on the Cambridge book of English verse (jointly edited by Freer and John Andrew). There are 18 letters from Harold Owen, brother of the poet Wilfred Owen, some of which relate to the biographical sketch of Wilfred Owen written by Freer to precede the selection of Owen's verse in the anthology; these letters also relate to Harold Owens's own editions of work by or about his brother, and reflect Freer's interest in the poetry of war. There is also a copy of Freer's anthology Persons, places and things. His interest in the work of John Nash is reflected in the inclusion of letters from Nash himself, references to Nash and his work made by other correspondents, and a holograph draft of Freer's introduction to the Fleece Press publication Twenty one wood engravings by Nash.

Other material of note in the archive includes: single letters from various well-known individuals not listed above, including the actresses Judi Dench and Anna Massey, the actor Ron Moody, the illustrator and children's writer Quentin Blake, and the Shakespeare scholar Stanley Wells; 13 carbon typescript poems by Donald Davie, who was Freer's supervisor at Cambridge for a time; a framed pen and ink drawing, Head of Apollo, by the poet George Barker; a complete set of the journal The Human World (an offspring of Scrutiny) dating from 1970-1974; and the first two copies of the lavish journal Form: A Quarterly of the Arts, edited by the artist and occultist Austin Osman Spare with Francis Marsden, dating from 1916 and 1917.

The archive also includes a small quantity of letters from family and friends which is unconnected with Freer's collecting or professional work; in addition there are some papers relating to his work for the Friends' Ambulance Unit when he registered as a Conscientious Objector during the 1940s, with a small quantity of material relating to his father's work for the same unit during the First World War.

The archive is a rich resource for anyone interested in twentieth-century British poetry and both decorative and fine art, but the following research areas and artistic or literary movements are particularly well-represented: the art and poetry of war; printmaking; watercolour drawing; approaches to topographical and landscape painting in the twentieth century; book illustration and private press publication; artists associated with the Seven and Five Society and the London Group; artists and poets associated with the Surrealist movement; artists associated with Neo-Romanticism (with George Barker representing the parallel New Apocalpyse movement in poetry); poets associated with The Group of the 1950s-60s (with copies of early Donald Davie poems also giving the earlier Movement poets a presence in the archive); rural writing and nature poetry; and twentieth-century pottery. Other topics which run throughout the archive include the relationship between text and image or poetry and painting; pioneering approaches to the teaching of creative writing and English literature; and art collecting.

Administrative / Biographical History

1 Allen Freer, 'English and the Creative Arts: Creative Writing and the Fertile Image', reprinted from English in Education, vol. 3, no. 2 (Summer 1969) (The National Association for the Teaching of English in association with Oxford University Press), p. 6.

2 [Allen Freer], Introduction to The Sycamore Collection: twentieth century British prints from a private collection (Bolton: Bolton Museum and Art Gallery, [1988]).

Allen Freer was born in Blaby, Leicestershire, in 1926 and attended Alderman Newton's Boys' School in Leicester, where in the Sixth Form he registered as a Conscientious Objector, subsequently serving in the Friends' Ambulance Unit until the Unit closed in 1946. From 1946 until September 1947 he served as a hospital orderly at Leicester Royal Infirmary. In September 1947 he took up a place at St Catharine's College, Cambridge, to read English.

In addition to his literary studies at Cambridge, Freer learned the craft of bookbinding, going on to take a course in binding at the College of Handicraft in 1950. He also became increasingly interested in painting, particularly in the work of the English watercolour painters of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, and he later went on to develop a passion for British art of the twentieth century. While at Cambridge he came to know Jim Ede of Kettle's Yard, who had an abiding and profound influence on his philosophy of art and poetry. In his last two terms Freer had the privilege of being supervised by the poet, critic and scholar, Donald Davie, who encouraged his work in the various crafts. The craftsman Ernest Goodchild praised Freer's progress in wood turning in 1949, and Freer also produced a mazer for the senior common room of his college. The love of poetry, art and crafts that Freer developed during his time as a student would prove a driving force throughout his career.

After leaving Cambridge in 1951, Freer taught English at a number of secondary schools in Leicester and the Midlands, ultimately becoming Senior English Master at John Willmott Grammar School, Sutton Coldfield. Creative writing was not encouraged in the school curriculum of the time, and Freer felt that there was a high level of latent creativity in his pupils which lacked an outlet. He was inspired by the work of Douglas Brown (his former supervisor and an English teacher at the Perse School in Cambridge), who passed on some creative writings produced by his first and second formers. Freer decided to adopt a new approach to the teaching of English, which he hoped would convince the children that each of them had some level of creative power, and would ultimately lead to improved performance in all their written work. In his own words, '[t]o manipulate words in such a way that they registered the very contour of the experience was the assignment I set myself to achieve with these pupils then - and since. Words and usages became their material like clay to a potter or gesture to a dancer'.1 He began by introducing children to D.H. Lawrence's animal poems and encouraging them to produce their own. The real breakthrough came, however, when Freer discovered Paul Nash's book Fertile image, containing a series of photographs taken by the artist which had provided the starting point for a number of paintings. Freer felt that these photographs could provide fertile images for poetry too, and the exercise was so successful that the Times Educational Supplement ran a double-page spread featuring the Nash photographs alongside the poetry they had inspired from his pupils. He continued with this innovative approach of using the visual arts as a stimulus for creative writing, and he went on to introduce the children to more challenging works, like paintings and drawings by Paul Klee. He acquired original artwork for the school to be used in English teaching - from the artist Keith Vaughan among others. Basil Taylor also gave a memorable lecture on the poet, Sidney Keyes. Keyes had been a close friend of Taylor at school (Tonbridge) and Oxford.

The school magazines from John Willmott School which are included in the archive stand as a testament to Freer's influence; they contain pupils' own creative writing as well as interviews with artists like Keith Vaughan and Ivon Hitchens, carried out by sixth formers at Freer's arrangement. The archive also includes letters, prints, paintings, drawings and manuscripts from former pupils of Freer's from this and other schools, who were inspired by his teaching methods and who maintained contact with him for years after leaving school.

In 1962, Freer took up a post as Inspector for English at Manchester Education Committee, and he remained with Manchester City Council until the early 1980s. Building on the work he began as a teacher, he played a crucial role in ensuring that poetry and art were woven into the curriculum of schools in the region. As an important element of this, he organized regular poetry readings, workshops and lectures in Manchester schools, as well as in-service training courses for teachers of English; in particular, he established a highly successful course for teachers and sixth formers at Lumb Bank, the Arvon Foundation Centre in Heptonstall, Yorkshire. Among the poets and writers who came to give readings, workshops and talks were Alan Brownjohn, Ronald Blythe, David Gascoyne, Phoebe Hesketh, Jeremy Hooker, Frances Horovitz, Glyn Hughes, Ted Hughes, Norman Nicholson, Peter Porter, Jon Stallworthy, Anthony Thwaite and Charles Tomlinson. A number of these writers returned regularly to participate in readings and workshops, and these activities became an integral part of Manchester's literary history during the 1970s. In many ways, Freer's work with poets in the sphere of primary and secondary education complemented similar work carried out by Brian Cox of the English Department at Manchester University, who founded Manchester Poetry Centre and attracted numerous well-known poets to the city for readings. Freer also organized talks for schools delivered by individuals active in other areas of the Arts; Edward Craig, for instance, came to talk on the work of his father (the theatrical designer Edward Gordon Craig), and the art historian Basil Taylor gave talks on Constable and landscape painting.

Another major innovation of Freer's was to build up a body of English resource material for use by schools. Freer - through his own collecting of art - was in personal contact with an impressive array of eminent English artists and craftspeople. As in his own classroom work, he hoped to encourage innovative methods of teaching creative writing based on the use of the visual arts. He therefore purchased or commissioned a high-quality teaching collection of twentieth-century prints for Manchester City Council; some of these were commissioned as illustrations for specific poems. Over the years he accumulated work by a range of artists, including Edward Bawden, Terry Frost, William Gear, Winifred Nicholson and William Scott. He also acquired illustrated books printed by quality private presses like the Trianon Press and Whittington Press.

Freer's acquisition of artwork as a teaching resource ran alongside his own passion for collecting art. While still at school himself, he had developed an early enthusiasm for lino cuts and wood-engraving; when he was in his twenties he also became interested in lithography, and it was at this time that he bought his first original lithograph, by Vanessa Bell; he was subsequently given prints by Edward Bawden and William Scott as gifts, and these formed the nucleus of his collection. Over the years, he amassed a collection of prints (including lithographs, engravings on wood and stone, wood cuts, lino cuts, dry point and etchings) which was reasonably representative of the graphic work produced in England from the beginning of the twentieth century, acquiring prints by artists such as Eileen Agar, Edward Bawden, Edward Gordon Craig, John Craxton, Terry Frost, Eric Gill, Augustus John, David Jones, Lynton Lamb, Vincent Lines, Henry Moore, John and Paul Nash, John Piper, Eric Ravilious and Graham Sutherland. Many of his prints first made their appearance as illustrations for books published by private presses such as Ashendene, Nonesuch and Gregynog, reflecting Freer's enduring interest in the art of illustration and the interplay between text and image; he credits Douglas Cleverdon (of Clover Hill Editions) with his initiation into 'a world where books and prints met'. 2 He also went on to acquire twentieth-century work in other media, such as watercolours, drawings and oils, and gradually built up an art collection of national importance. He developed a particular interest in certain genres or media such as topographical watercolour and landscape painting (both representational and abstract) and war art (he collected work by official war artists and by those whose paintings reflected their response to war, including Albert Richards, Thomas Hennell, John and Paul Nash, John Piper, and Edward Bawden). His interest in arts and crafts is also reflected in his acquisition of pieces made by well-known potters such as Katherine Pleydell-Bouverie, Michael Cardew and Lucie Rie, and of quality handmade furniture by traditional craftspeople.

Freer acquired many of his paintings and prints direct from their creators, and he developed good relationships with a number of well-known artists - corresponding with and visiting artists such as John Nash, Ivon and John Hitchens, Leonard McComb and Keith Vaughan. He also helped to promote the work of artists he admired by organizing exhibitions (e.g. exhibitions of Edward Bawden's and Winifred Nicholson's work at Manchester Cathedral), lending works to galleries, and selling work on behalf of artists.

Through his work for Manchester Education Committee he also established friendships with poets and writers such as Ronald Blythe and Phoebe Hesketh, and (as with artists) he helped to promote writers whose work he particularly valued. In 1985 he arranged the publication of poems by Hesketh in the collection A ring of leaves, published by the Hayloft Press to mark the poet's 75th birthday; Freer provided illustrations for this volume himself, and he also went on to illustrate Hesketh's 1989 volume Netting the sun: new and collected poems, with an introduction by Anne Stevenson (Enitharmon). He arranged the Hayloft Press publication in 1987 of Fifteen poems by the rural writer and poet H.J. Massingham (1888-1952). He also provided drawings for the autobiography of T.R. Henn, Five arches with 'Philoctetes' and other poems (Gerrards Cross: Colin Smythe, 1980); Henn had been Freer's senior tutor at St Catharine's College, Cambridge. As indicated by the success of his work as an illustrator, Freer is himself a watercolourist of distinction, specialising in landscapes and in miniature paintings. He exhibited in numerous mixed exhibitions (in Manchester, Stratford-on-Avon, East Anglia, Wales, and London), before having his first one-man show at the Tib Lane Gallery in Manchester in 1970; his first one-man London show, Valleys, rocks and hills, was held at Spink and Son in 1976. His miniatures as well as his larger watercolours are now held in a number of notable private and public collections.

His interest in specific areas like the literature and art of war, has led Freer to undertake a number of research projects. In particular, he carried out extensive work during the late 1970s on Thomas Hennell (1903-1945), English artist, who was also a poet and writer, and an authority on country crafts. An exceptional watercolour artist, in 1943 he was appointed as an official war artist, to take the place of his friend, the late Eric Ravilious; he was sent to Iceland, where he honed his technique by producing numerous watercolours recording his impressions of the country. He subsequently made drawings on the beaches in Normandy a week after D-Day, but he was ultimately killed during the uprising in Java in October 1945. Freer undertook wide-ranging research into Hennell's life and work, contacting many people who had known him, including Penelope Massingham (widow of the rural writer H.J. Massingham, a friend of Hennell, who had illustrated his book Country relics), E. Owen Jennings (Principal of Tunbridge Wells School of Art, and Hennell's Artistic Executor), and the artist Delmar Banner. Ultimately, due to pressures on his time, Freer was unable to complete his book on Hennell, although Michael MacLeod subsequently wrote a full length study of the artist which was published by Cambridge University Press in 1988. All of Hennell's papers were ultimately acquired by the Tate Gallery and are now held in the Tate Archive. Through his Hennell research, Freer became interested in the writing of H.J. Massingham, who had written his own memoir of the artist; Freer established an enduring friendship with Massingham's widow Penelope, through whom he acquired some important letters sent to H.J. Massingham by significant writers, artists and others.

Freer also became fascinated by the work of the English artist Albert Richards (1919-1945), and amassed a considerable amount of research material relating to his life. Richards worked initially in the decorative and applied arts, but was influenced in the 1930s by Surrealism, and his early painting style was formed by fusing the content of the Surrealists with the style of Indian and Persian miniatures. Subsequently he was greatly influenced by the Modern English School, notably by the work of Paul and John Nash, Eric Ravilious, Edward Bawden and Stanley Spencer. He was called up for National Service in 1940, and trained first as a sapper and later as a paratrooper. While in the Army, he began submitting work to the War Artists' Advisory Committee - principally in the form of oil paintings which vividly evoked wartime life in the armed forces. In 1944 he received formal recognition in being nominated the youngest ever British Official War Artist, and in the ensuing year he attained the height of his artistic achievement, producing works in watercolour, ink, gouache, crayon and wax resist, recording events with intensity and immediacy. He died in March 1945, on his way to paint a night attack by the Allied troops on the retreating German divisions near the river Maas. Freer's research resulted in a monograph, although it was not ultimately published in this form; instead, it formed the introduction to the catalogue for a major Richards retrospective exhibition, The rose of death, held at the Imperial War Museum in 1977.

Freer has also undertaken research into John Nash and his work, writing an introduction to 21 wood engravings by John Nash (Fleece Press), and a full-length study of the artist, John Nash: the delighted eye (Scolar Press). Both books were published in 1993 to commemorate Nash's centenary. Freer's other publications include poetry anthologies which he has compiled and edited, notably Persons, places and things (Cambridge University Press, 1969) and the Cambridge book of English verse 1900-1939, edited with John Andrew (Cambridge University Press, 1970).

Allen Freer lives in Cheadle Hulme, Cheshire, with his wife Beryl. They have two daughters, Catherine and Mary.


The archive has not yet been formally arranged. The current arrangement is based on the unit of the archive box, and the order of the material reflects the way it was received by the Library in a number of instalments. Freer's own divisions into boxes and files have all been noted in the interim list.

Access Information

The archive is open to any accredited reader, although some material is closed under the provisions of the Data Protection Act 1998; closed records are identified at item level in the interim list. Please consult archivist for further details.

This finding aid contains personal data about living individuals. Under Section 33 of the Data Protection Act 1998 (DPA), The John Rylands University Library (JRUL) holds the right to process such personal data for research purposes. The Data Protection (Processing of Sensitive Personal Data) Order 2000 enables the JRUL to process sensitive personal data for research purposes. In accordance with the DPA, the JRUL has made every attempt to ensure that all personal and sensitive personal data has been processed fairly, lawfully and accurately.

Acquisition Information

The archive was given to the Library by Allen Freer. Material received to date has come in fifteen separate accessions during the period 2001-2005. One box of material consists of letters and papers removed from volumes in Allen Freer's book collection which was purchased by the Library in 2003.


1 Allen Freer, 'English and the Creative Arts: Creative Writing and the Fertile Image', reprinted from English in Education, vol. 3, no. 2 (Summer 1969) (The National Association for the Teaching of English in association with Oxford University Press), p. 6.

2 [Allen Freer], Introduction to The Sycamore Collection: twentieth century British prints from a private collection (Bolton: Bolton Museum and Art Gallery, [1988]).

Other Finding Aids

A detailed interim list describing material in the archive to item level is available in hard copy form.

Conditions Governing Use

Photocopies and photographic copies of material in the archive can be supplied for private study purposes only, depending on the condition of the documents.

All items within the archive remain within copyright under the terms of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988; it is the responsibility of users to obtain the copyright holder's permission for reproduction of copyright material for purposes other than research or private study.

Prior written permission must be obtained from the Library for publication or reproduction of any material within the archive. Please contact the Head of Special Collections, John Rylands University Library, 150 Deansgate, Manchester, M3 3EH.

Custodial History

The archive consists of papers generated by Allen Freer during his work as a teacher, school inspector, art collector, painter, researcher and writer; most of this was generated and maintained by Freer himself, although some of the correspondence with visiting writers comes from an official filing system, presumably from the Manchester Education Committee where Freer worked. There is also a small quantity of material relating to his earlier life, as well as family and personal correspondence. Freer inserted some letters and papers into volumes which formed part of his book collection; these have now also been added to the archive. The papers all remained in Freer's custody until they were given to The John Rylands University Library.


It is anticipated that further small accruals to the archive will be made in the future; details of these will be added to the hard-copy interim list.

Related Material

The John Rylands University Library also holds Allen Freer's book collection, numbering around 250 items. This is closely related to the archive and includes: important fine editions and private press books (some of which are discussed in correspondence in the archive); books relating to particular areas of interest, such as the literature of war (for example, the collection includes a first edition of John Clare that was carried by Edmund Blunden in the trenches of the First World War); and a good representation of publications by poets and artists of the twentieth century, including inscribed presentation copies from poets and artists Freer knew personally.

The Library also holds a number of archives containing papers of or relating to a number of the poets represented in the Freer archive, as well as papers covering related topics such as teaching methods and pedagogy. These include: the Archive of Carcanet Press, the Papers of Brian Cox, the Archive of Critical Quarterly (CQA, the Papers of Norman Nicholson (NCN) (along with some smaller Nicholson collections), and Papers relating to J.W. Wallace and the Bolton Whitman Fellowship (which includes one letter from Phoebe Hesketh).


Much of the information used to compile this description has been taken from: correspondence, exhibition catalogues and flyers, and other papers included in the archive itself; Allen Freer's own notes on the archive (many of which are written on envelopes and are still stored with the archival material to which they relate); and the archivists' collection file relating to the archive. However, useful background information on Freer's collecting of prints was drawn from his catalogue introduction to The Sycamore Collection: twentieth century British prints from a private collection (Bolton: Bolton Museum and Art Gallery, [1988]), pp. 3-4. An interesting insight into his use of art as a visual stimulus for creative writing is given in: Allen Freer, 'English and the Creative Arts: Creative Writing and the Fertile Image' reprinted from English in Education, vol. 3, no. 2 (Summer 1969) (The National Association for the Teaching of English in association with Oxford University Press); and 'The Fertile Image in Poetry: Homage to Paul Nash', from the Times Educational Supplement (18 May 1962), pp. 1004-5. All of these items are included in Freer's archive.