Literary manuscripts, journals, press cuttings, and correspondence of Rayner Heppenstall

Scope and Content

Comprises: (Box 1) 12 autograph manuscript diaries compiled by Rayner Heppenstall between 1969 and 1981; (Box 2) 6 scrapbook volumes of news cuttings compiled by him between 1947 and his death, including some reviews of The Master Eccentric published in 1986-1987, subsequently added; and (Box 3) (i) The typescript draft of his journal for the years 1970-1981, (ii) An obituary of Heppenstall printed in The Annual Obituary, published by St Martin's Press (n.d.) (photocopy), (iii) 51 autograph manuscript letters from J.I.M. Stewart to Heppenstall, written from Leeds, Adelaide, and Oxford, and dated 1933-1968, and (iv) Papers and correspondence relating to Bluebeard and after and The sex war by Heppenstall, dated ca. 1971-1972.

Administrative / Biographical History

(John) Rayner Heppenstall (1911-1981), the novelist, poet, critic, BBC producer, and criminal historian, was born in Lockwood, Huddersfield, on 27 July 1911 and educated at Huddersfield College and Leeds University, where he graduated in Modern Languages in 1932, and obtained a Diploma in Education in 1933. After a brief period teaching in Dagenham, he moved to London to start a career as a freelance writer and critic. Here he met many other writers and wrote most of his published poetry before the outbreak of the Second World War. After war service in Yorkshire and Northern Ireland, he joined the BBC as a features writer and drama producer, mainly for the Third Programme. Most of his novels were written during this period. In 1967 he became a freelance writer again and moved with his wife, Margaret, to Deal, Kent in 1974. Here he translated from French, wrote further novels, and developed an interest in criminal history. He died on 23 May 1981. His journal, which he had kept for many years, was edited after his death by Jonathan Goodman and published as The Master Eccentric in 1986.

Access Information

Access is unrestricted.

Acquisition Information

Mainly purchased from Mrs Margaret Heppenstall, his widow, between 1987 and 1995


In English.