Thomas Blackburn Papers

Scope and Content

The collection contains material given by three friends of Blackburn: Barry Bloomfield had been a colleague of his at the College of St Mark and St John, where Alex Evans had been principal, while Jean Macvean edited a posthumous edition ofBlackburn's late poetry The adjacent kingdom (London: Peter Owen, 1988). She also collected reviews and references to his work and corresponded with former colleagues and friends. Alex Evans and his family were close friends with theBlackburns since he started working at the College of St Mark and St John, and their correspondence chronicles Blackburn's work there and less happy situation after it relocated.

Administrative / Biographical History

Born 10 February 1916 at Hensingham, Cumberland, the son of an Anglican clergyman, Blackburn later chronicled his traumatic youth in his fictionalised autobiography A clip of steel. After an abortive period at Cambridge, he studied English at Durham University (B.A. 1937-40, M.A. in absentia 1950). He was Gregory Poetry Fellow at the University of Leeds 1956-1958 and became alecturer in English at the College of St Mark and St John (attached to London University) in 1960. When the College relocated to Plymouth in 1973, he eventually decided to stay in London and moved to another London University institution, WhitelandsCollege, where he found little satisfaction, retiring in early 1976. He died on the 13 August, 1977, at Brynhyfred, the cottage in Snowdonia which features in several of his late poems.

Access Information

Open for consultation.

Acquisition Information

Received from three donors: Add.MS.1664/1-11: presented by Barry Bloomfield, 1983 (Misc.1983.1). Add.MS. 1644/12-272 presented by Jean Macvean (Misc.1987.1 and Misc.1988.2). Add.MS. 1644/273-347 presented by Alex Evans (Misc.1992/3.6 andMisc.1993/4.20).


Part of : Additional Manuscripts

Other Finding Aids

Conditions Governing Use

Permission to make any published use of material from the collection must be sought in advance from the Sub-Librarian, Special Collections (e-mail and, where appropriate, from the copyright owner. The Library will assistwhere possible with identifying copyright owners, but responsibility for ensuring copyright clearance rests with the user of the material.

Related Material

The books donated by Bloomfield are now in DUL printed special collections and can be found in the relevant catalogue at


Abate, Maria Carmela, La poesia di Thomas Blackburn. Ricerca spirituale di un veggente (thesis, Messina University, Italy: 1990)