Papers of Lawrence Sail

Scope and Content

The collection contains worksheets and drafts of all of his poetry collections (1974-2002), and also includes typescripts of BBC Radio 3 and Radio 4 broadcasts (1980-1988), together with drafts, worksheets and printed copies of Christmas poems, essays and reviews (1976-2002).

Administrative / Biographical History

Lawrence Sail was born in London in 1942 and brought up in Exeter, Devon. Reading French and German at St. John's College, Oxford, he taught for over four years in Kenya before returning to the UK to hold other teaching posts. He then turned to freelance writing.

He has published eight collections of poems, most recently The World Returning (2002), Building into Air (1995), and Out of Land (1992). He has compiled and edited a number of anthologies, including First and Always: Poems for Great Ormond Street Children's Hospital (1988) and (with Kevin Crossley-Holland) The New Exeter Book of Riddles (1999). He was editor of South West Review from 1980 to 1985. He has worked in schools and colleges, and was a frequent participant in the W.H. Smith Writers in Schools scheme. His poems have been broadcast on both radio and television, and he has also written a radio play, as well as various short features for radio. He has presented 'Poetry Now' (BBC Radio 3) and 'Time for Verse' (BBC Radio 4). He has contributed reviews and essays to Poetry Nation Review, Poetry Review and Stand.

He was chairman of the Arvon Foundation from 1990 to 1994, and was programme director of the Cheltenham Festival of Literature and a judge for the Whitebread Book of the Year awards in 1991. In 1992 he was awarded a Hawthornden Fellowship, and an Arts Council Writer's Bursary the following year. In August 1993 he undertook a month-long tour of India for the British Council, for whom he has since worked as a visiting writer and lecturer in various countries, including Egypt, Bosnia and Ukraine. From 1994 to 1996 he was the British representative on the jury of the European Literature Prize. In October 1999 he was one of the co-directors of the 50th Anniversary Cheltenham Festival of Literature. In 2004 he is a judge for the Eric Gregory Awards. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.


The collection is currently in the arrangement given by Sail himself.

Conditions Governing Access

Usual EUL arrangements apply.


Listed by Charlotte Berry, Archivist, 10 October 2003 and encoded into EAD 1 June 2004.

Other Finding Aids

A rough handlist is available.

Conditions Governing Use

Usual EUL restrictions apply.

Custodial History

Acquired by the Library by purchase in 2002 and 2003.

Related Material

None known.