Literary manuscripts of Thomas Blackburn, with some correspondence and other material

  • This material is held at
  • Reference
      GB 206 Brotherton Collection MS 20c Blackburn
  • Dates of Creation
      ca. 1893-1988
  • Name of Creator
  • Language of Material
  • Physical Description
      18 boxes; manuscript, typescript, photographs, press cuttings, and printed material (partly photocopy). Includes a few paintings and drawings, a gramophone record, and 3 tape recordings.

Scope and Content

Comprises: (a) 4 boxes full of 59 numbered notebooks containing Thomas Blackburn's autograph manuscript drafts of literary compositions and other notes, mostly undated; (b) 11 boxes principally containing typescripts and autograph manuscripts of many of Blackburn's works, notably relating to (1-3) Feast for the Wolf, (4) A Clip of Steel, (5) plays, (6-7) poems, and (8-11) works of criticism (including drafts of books on Robert Browning and Jacobean drama), lectures and other prose writings; and (c) 3 boxes containing (1) correspondence, both of Thomas Blackburn with others and early Blackburn family correspondence dated from ca. 1893 onwards, (2) press cuttings, brochures, and playbills, and (3) personalia, including Thomas Blackburn's will, dated 9 March 1974, certificates, testimonials, publishing contracts, and appointments, photographs, and a few paintings and drawings. Also present in box (b) 11 are 3 tape recordings and a gramophone record of Blackburn reading his work and a dissertation about his work by Dominique Gatien. In box (b) 7 there is a memoir of him by Margaret McGuire (Peggy) Blackburn.

Administrative / Biographical History

Thomas Eliel Fenwick Blackburn (1916-1977), the English writer, was born in Cumbria. A graduate of Durham University in 1940 and a pacifist, after the war he taught at Marylebone Grammar School, then at two London colleges until his retirement at 60. He made his reputation as a poet during the 1950s, and was a Gregory Fellow at Leeds University in 1956 and 1957. He published 12 collections of poetry, 1 volume of verse translations (with others), 5 anthologies, 3 volumes of criticism, a novel, Feast for the Wolf, 1971, and an autobiography, A Clip of Steel, 1969. He was a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.

Access Information

Access is unrestricted.

Acquisition Information

The earliest part of this archive to be acquired was received from the author on 28 May 1964, but the vast majority of it was purchased from Miss Julia Blackburn (the poet's daughter) on 2 September 1987. Further additions were made to it by gift of Peter Owen, the publisher, on 16 May 1988, and by purchase from Quaritch/Neate on 31 July 1991 and from Huggett on 16 February 1994.


In English.

Other Finding Aids

Lists of parts of the archive compiled by Heather Parker are held with it in Box (b) 1.

Additional Information

260 printed books from Blackburn's personal library (including copies of his own works, books presented to him with manuscript signatures, and other books owned by him, many with autograph annotations) form a related part of the collection and are shelved with the above.