Norman Hidden Collection

Scope and Content

The collection represents some facets of the work of Norman and Joyce Hidden. The printed books are the works of Hidden, the output of the Workshop Press and some presentation copies of books of poems. The manuscript material contains thebusiness records of the Workshop Press, run by Norman and Joyce Hidden, including annual accounts, newsletters, publicity material and reviews. The correspondence sequence seems to have been largely gathered by Hidden in the course of writing A passion for poetry and consists of letters to poets relating to their publication by Workshop Press or performing at poetry readings, and correspondence about the Poetry Society. Of the latter, the correspondencewith William Plomer, President of the Poetry Society while Hidden was Chairman, gives the most comprehensive record of the day to day business of the institution.

Some of Hidden's articles, the sound recordings and collections of notes reflect his continued interest in teaching the appreciation and writing of poetry to young people, and teaching their teachers how to nurture and inspire their pupils.

Administrative / Biographical History

Norman Frederick Hidden was born in 1913. His experiences at school were the subject of his first memoir Dr. Kink & his old-style boarding school. Fragments of autobiography (London, 1973). He studied English at Brasenose College, Oxford and became a teacher. At the outbreak of World War II he was in America on anexchange visit; on his return, he enlisted in the army, becoming a liaison officer with the American forces in Germany, 1944-47 (the subject of another memoir Liaison officer. Germany and the Anglo-US occupation1946-47 (Frinton-on-Sea, 1993)). He returned to teaching, at Goole, then Hornchurch Grammar School, Essex and finally as Senior Lecturer in English, College of All Saints, Tottenham (1964-1973).

In addition to his strong interest in the teaching of poetry, NH had a practical interest in the fostering of the creation of contemporary poetry by encouraging the reading, performance and publication of current work. This becomes evident in thelater 1960s when he and his wife Joyce organised poetry readings at the Lamb & Flag pub, starting in 1966. These developed into other readings and events, as well as the foundation of the Workshop Press to publish new poetry, by both establishedand new writers. This started in September 1967 with the publication of the first issue of Writers' Workshop, abbreviated to Workshop at the second issue (January 1968), renamed Workshop new poetry from the thirteenth issue (September 1971) andNew poetry from the twenty-eighth issue (1974) until it closed in 1981. This magazine was published three times a year, funded by subscriptions, and was occasionally supplemented by books of poetry by single authorsissued in a uniform series as the Workshop Poets.

Hidden was also involved in the British poetry establishment. As the Chairman of the Poetry Society (1968-1971) he led one of the most successful periods of the Society's existence, combining the commemoration of great national poets with thefostering of contemporary and local activities. After his retirement, in the 1980s and 1990s he continued to write, short stories as well as poetry, and several memoirs including A passion for poetry (Frinton-on-Sea, 2006). This work includes many episodes from his literary life; it was not formally published, but rather copies were intended to be sent to various literary archives. NormanHidden died in 2006.


The collection is arranged in the following sequences:

  • Works by Norman Hidden
  • Workshop Press
  • Correspondence
  • Events
  • Sound recordings
  • Miscellaneous

Most printed works are shelved in a separate sequence with the shelfmark Hidden.

Access Information

Open for consultation.

Acquisition Information

Presented by Mrs Joyce Hidden in October and November 2006, September 2007 and May 2008 (Misc.2006/7:10, Misc.2006/7.33, Misc.2007/8.4, Misc.2007/8.63). Additional file (now HID/28 and Hidden 125-126) presented March 2011 (Misc.2010/11:67).

Other Finding Aids


The printed items are also catalogued on the Library catalogue

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

Contains correspondence about Poetry Society, but not apparently from NH.

Contains correspondence about Poetry Society.