The Andrew Waterman Collection

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

The collection contains the literary papers of Andrew Waterman, with some personal material. The papers comprise: dated manuscript drafts of his poetry, including some of his earliest poems written during the late 1950s and early 1960s; dated typescripts of every completed poem by Waterman; typescripts of reviews, critical essays and prose articles; a notebook containing lists of all Waterman's completed poems, with the month and year in which they were completed since 1966; typescripts of unpublished poetry collections, essay collections, memoirs and novels; a typescript of 'Collected Poems 1959 -1999'; papers related to the 'Poetry of Chess', an anthology edited by Waterman; papers, typescripts and proofs related to 'The Captain's Swallow'; copies of each of Waterman's published works; a cassette recording of Waterman reading his own poems for the British Council and Harvard University (1980); reviews; correspondence with Michael Schmidt, Judith Wilson, John Mole and Patricia McCarthy; personal correspondence with friends; personal papers relating to Waterman's schooldays, university life and career at the University of Ulster; lecture and teaching notes; and journals kept between 1958 and 1961.

Administrative / Biographical History

Andrew Waterman was born in London in 1940, and adopted as a baby when a few days old. On passing the 11-plus exam he attended the Trinity School of John Whitgift, Croydon, but, intent on getting off the 'conveyor belt towards Oxbridge', he left during the second year of his sixth-form course in November 1957. After leaving school, there followed six years in which he undertook various manual and clerical jobs, including junior library-assistant, kitchen porter, bank clerk and bookshop assistant. By the start of 1962, Waterman had decided to study for his A-Levels, with the aim of going to University in October 1963. He started his studies through a correspondence course, but soon abandoned it in favour of following his own study programme. Having obtained his A-Levels in English and History in the January of 1963, he was offered a place at his chosen University, Leicester.

During this time, and on into the first two years at Leicester, Waterman was serving his apprenticeship as a writer. He had known that he wanted to be a writer at the young age of 15, but at school, rather than attempting to create 'deep literary self-expression', he limited himself to writing parodies in the style of Samuel Johnson and James Thurber. During his early twenties, his literary aspirations were focused largely upon writing novels. However, having felt that he had 'outgrown' his work, his lengthy drafts were usually thrown away. Despite not completing any of his novels, these early writing years were an important part of Waterman's literary development and helped to shape his poetry - many of his poems have what Waterman describes as 'novelistic' elements to them, such as characters and dialogue.

In 1963 he began reading English at the University of Leicester, graduating with first-class honours in 1966. His years at Leicester were very happy ones: he enjoyed living in the East Midlands and made many good friends. However, his academic life was less conventional than that of his fellow undergraduates. Having been an autodidact, used to reading and thinking on his own, he did not conform to the expected pattern of academic study and was more nonconformist in his approach to academic life. Upon graduating he worked as a porter in a railway goods yard in Leicester, a job that he had undertaken during his summer holidays as an undergraduate. However, following a chance encounter between George Fraser of the Universityαs English Department, and Donald Mitchell, a Philosophy Don at the University of Oxford, he was invited for interview to Worcester College, Oxford. The successful outcome of which, meant that he was offered a Martin Senior Scholarship.

From 1966 to 1968 Andrew Waterman was at Oxford, researching his DPhil thesis on the work of the poet Edward Thomas, returning to Leicester each summer to work in the railway goods yard. During the latter part of his time at Oxford, Waterman started to concentrate on writing poetry. He had written a few poems during his intense period of novel writing, but it was not until 1967 that he decided to 'overcome [his] shyness' and send some of his work to literary magazines. His first poem was accepted, and from what had started as a tentative offering of one poem in late 1967, had grown into regular submissions by 1969.

In the spring 1968 Waterman applied for a position on the English staff of the newly founded New University of Ulster. He was offered the post and abandoned his DPhil studies at Oxford. He remained on the English staff at the University of Ulster for nearly thirty years, teaching mostly nineteenth and twentieth century literature. In 1979 he was promoted to Senior Lecturer in English and from 1980 until 1984 was an External Examiner in English at the University of Surrey. He finally left the University in 1997, taking early retirement.

Waterman continued writing poetry whilst at Ulster and in early 1970 his poetry received substantial exposure in the literary magazine Stand. Edited by John Silkin, the magazine featured a group of eleven of his 'Railway Poems', which recorded his summers of working in the railway goods-yard in Leicester. The appearance of such an extensive group of poems in one issue of a magazine attracted considerable attention from editors keen to publish his work. By early 1973, Waterman had written and published enough poems for a book. He collated the poems into a typescript and was considering where to send his work, when he received a letter from George Hartley, whose Marvell Press imprint had published Philip Larkin's The Less Deceived, offering to publish his first collection of poetry. In 1974 Waterman's first poetry book, Living Room, was published by Marvell and was a Poetry Book Society Choice.

In late 1976, Michael Schmidt, who had recently established the poetry publishing house Carcanet Press, wrote to Waterman asking him if he would consider submitting some pieces to Schmidt's magazine PN Review. Waterman's poem 'North Derry Nocturne' was chosen and amidst the discussions concerning its publication, Schmidt offered to publish his second book. Waterman was tempted by the offer: Hartley, although a brilliant literary editor, was less adept at handling the business side of publishing and Waterman was aware that it could take some time for his next book to be published if he stayed with Marvell. After a period of negotiation between Hartley and Schmidt, Waterman's second book, From the Other Country was published by Carcanet in 1977. The Manchester-based company has since published seven further collections of Waterman's poems, most recently his Collected Poems in 2000 and The Captain's Swallow in 2007.

In 1998, Waterman moved from Ireland to Norfolk, first to Cromer and then in 2000 to the city of Norwich. He has received numerous literary awards and honours for his poetry, including: Poetry Book Society Recommendation for Out for the Elements (1981) and Selected Poems (1986); winner of the Observer/Arvon Poetry Competition in 1981 for 'Out for the Elements'; shortlisted for the £15,000 Paul Hamlyn Foundation Awards to Artists in 1997; and recipient of the Cholmondeley Award to Poets (1977). In addition to their book publication, many of Andrew Waterman's poems have appeared in a huge range of national and international literary magazines and been broadcast on television and radio.

He has one son, Rory, from a dissolved marriage, who is also a graduate of the University of Leicester. Having known about his adoption since a young age (a fact which he was never troubled by) one of Andrew Waterman's great personal joys was the discovery in 1980 of his original birth-name and the subsequent close relationship that he formed with his natural father Dermon Nolan, which lasted until Dermot's death in 1992.

Conditions Governing Access

Access to this collection is currently restricted. Enquiries should be directed to archives@le.ac.uk. The bulk of the collection may be open to bona fide researchers, although some papers which are of a particularly sensitive nature, including some correspondence files, are closed under the provisions of the Data Protection Act 1998. The Special Collections are open Monday-Friday 9 am-5 pm. Access by appointment only.

Acquisition Information

The archive was deposited with the David Wilson Library by Andrew Waterman in July 2009.

Archivist's Note

Description prepared by Alex Cave on 15 July 2009.

Conditions Governing Use

Much of the material in the archive remains in copyright. Copyright of Andrew Waterman's own papers is held by Andrew Waterman. Copyright of the residual material, such as letters written to him and works by other authors, remains with individual authors. It is the reader's responsibility to obtain the relevant copyright permission for the reproduction or publication of any copyright material.

Custodial History

The core of this substantial collection constitutes the literary papers of Andrew Waterman. The papers were stored in the author's home in Norwich prior to their deposit in the Library.

Accruals

Further accruals are expected.

Related Material

The Special Collections Division of the John Rylands University Library, University of Manchester also holds the Carcanet Press Archive (CPA), which contains correspondence and literary manuscripts by Andrew Waterman.