Roger Deakin Archive

Scope and Content

The Archive holds draft, proof and manuscript copies of Waterlog: A Swimmer's Journey Through Britain (1999); correspondence relating to the book as well as to the journey on which it was based; and papers on other swimming and water related topics.

Wildwood: A Journey Through Trees was published posthumously (2007). RD's wood and tree research took him most notably to Poland, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Australia. The archive includes the proposal for this book (originally entitled Touching Wood ), chapter breakdowns, and research papers. There are no page proofs or publication correspondence.

Included is a series of 45 notebooks in which Deakin recorded his daily thoughts, feelings and observations around his home Walnut Tree Farm, near Mellis, Suffolk. This became the source material for Notes from Walnut Tree Farm (2008), edited by Alison Hastie and Terence Blacker.

The Archive contains working papers, notes and correspondence relating to RD's private and working life. This includes his early careers of advertising copywriting, teaching and environmental campaigning. Included are drafts and manuscripts for his books; scripts for journal and newspaper articles; and radio programme recordings, including the BBC Radio 4 documentary The House (Walnut Tree Farm).

Administrative / Biographical History

Roger Deakin (1943-2006) went to Haberdashers' Aske's School in Hampstead, then Peterhouse, Cambridge, (1961-64) where he took an English BA under the supervision of Kingsley Amis. He then became an advertising copywriter, working for half-a-dozen of the major London agencies.

He married Jenny Hind in 1973 (dissolved 1982), their son Rufus was born in 1974.

In 1974 he moved to Suffolk, having rebuilt (himself) a ruined 16th Century timber-framed farmhouse, and began teaching English and Drama at Diss Grammar School, Norfolk (1974-78). He also began farming a 12-acre smallholding, chaired the newly-founded East Anglian Arts Trust and co-edited and contributed to the Waveney Clarion community newspaper.

During this period he was involved in the creation and promotion of open air community arts events on a medium to large scale and was a contributing editor of the Waveney Clarion (the longest running and largest-circulating of the community newspapers of the 1970s).

He left Diss Grammar School in 1978 to join the staff of Friends of the Earth (1978-82) planning campaigns, editing and co-writing publications, and managing press relations and media strategy. The first major campaign he was closely involved in planning from the beginning was the campaign to save whales. In 1980 he successfully campaigned to save Cowpasture Lane, part of an ancient Suffolk droving road, from destruction by agribusiness.

From 1982-1985 RD was a musical advisor to the Aldeburgh Foundation on folk music and jazz, and produced a series of concerts and broadcasts at Snape Maltings by Carole King, the Chieftains, Kate and Anna McGarrigle, Loudon Wainwright, Planxty, the Roche Sisters and others, as well as originating and commissioning After Smith's Hotel , a major Arts Council jazz commission, with Mike Westbrook, first performed at Snape Maltings by the Mike Westbrook Orchestra.

During this period (1983), RD also became a founder-director, with Angela King and Sue Clifford, of Common Ground, the arts/environmental charity. He helped create a distinctive house style for Common Ground.

His work as a writer/director/producer of film and television took on a special interest in arts, rural and environmental subjects.

He was a regular contributor to the Financial Times , The Independent , Guardian and BBC Wildlife . From 2001 he contributed to the writers' courses at Schumacher College near Dartington.

In 1999 RD's acclaimed book Waterlog: A Swimmer's Journey Through Britain , was published by Chatto & Windus. This was followed by Wildwood: A Journey Through Trees . The individual chapters of Wildwood were completed shortly before RD died in 2006. The book was then organised and lightly edited into its published form by Robert MacFarlane, Octavia Reeve, Simon Prosser, Alison Hastie and Terence Blacker. It was published in 2007 by Hamish Hamilton (an imprint of Penguin).

Notebooks which recorded RD's daily thoughts, feelings and observations around his home at Walnut Tree Farm, provided the source material for Notes From Walnut Tree Farm (Hamish Hamilton, 2008), edited by Alison Hastie and Terence Blacker.


16 series

  • RD Audio Recordings, 1997-2004
  • RD/ARTS Music, Theatre, Arts & Crafts, 197?-2005
  • RD/DGS Teaching at Diss Grammar School, 1962, 1978
  • RD/EDU Education, 1948-1977
  • RD/ENV The Environment and Environmental Organisations, 1908, 1932, 1972-2005
  • RD/GEN General Papers, Correspondence
  • RD/LIT Lectures and General Writing, 1918-2006
  • RD/NOTE Notebooks, 1959, 199?-2005
  • RD/PER Personal, 1879-2003
  • RD/PHO Photographs, 194?-2005
  • RD/RAD Radio, 2000-2006
  • RD/STG St Thomas's Gardens, 1988-2005
  • RD/TRA Travel, 1969-2005?
  • RD/TW Touching Wood , 1997-2006
  • RD/WLOG Waterlog and Swimming, 1935, 1977, 1986-2005
  • RD/WTF Walnut Tree Farm, Mellis and Suffolk Communities, 1979-2005

Access Information

Other than where a specific access restriction is noted, the collection is open for consultation in the Archives Department during its advertised opening hours.

Acquisition Information

In October 2008 Jon Cook (Dean of Faculty of Arts and Humanities) was approached by Robert MacFarlane (RD's Literary Executor) to discuss the possibility of donating RD's literary papers to the UEA. The collection was gifted to the University by RD's son, Rufus Deakin. The collection was transferred in August 2009 to the UEA, it had until this time been stored in a container at Walnut Tree Farm, and prior to this, in the top floor of the barn at Walnut Tree Farm.

Along with the papers there arrived a substantial collection of film and video material. These were appraised by the East Anglian Film Archive (EAFA) who expressed a keen interest. The collection included films commissioned by Anglia Television. East Anglian interests include North Sea Follies - The End of the Pier Show at Cromer, Stable Lads (Newmarket racing), Cheryl and the Chocolate Factory (Rowntree-Mackintosh-Nestlè production in Norwich), Long Distance Romancer - The Songs of Mickey Jupp (Southend music scene), Cowboys Stay on Longer - the Country Legend of Hank Wangford, etc.

With EAFA's specialist knowledge in film and it being owned and operated by UEA, EAFA was the obvious home for RD's film-making archive and film collection. This part of the collection was transferred to EAFA in December 2009.

The 45 notebooks [RD/NOTE] were collected separately from the home of Terence Blacker near Dickleburgh. These had been used as source material for Notes From Walnut Tree Farm , edited by Alison Hastie and Terence Blacker (2008)

Physical Characteristics and/or Technical Requirements

Manuscripts, proofs, typescripts, press-cuttings, diaries, notebooks, photographs, slides, printed journals, computer disks, CDs, DVDs, video and audio cassettes, published and annotated books, and swimwear.

Archivist's Note


Conditions Governing Use

Reproductions can be supplied in hard copy or digital format subject to physical condition and the terms of deposit. A charge is made for this service. Copyright restrictions may apply and the advice of the Archives department should be sought for any use of reproductions other than personal research.

Custodial History

See: Immediate Source of Acquisition.

Corporate Names