Scope and Content

This series consists of incoming letters sent from NN to MS, some of them with enclosures. They span a twelve-year period and cover a range of topics, including: NN's regular readings in Liverpool at St Katherine's and Christ's Colleges, arranged by MS; NN's busy schedule of readings elsewhere; the holidays he undertook with his wife Yvonne; Yvonne's final illness and NN's struggle to rebuild his life after her death from cancer in 1982; and NN's receipt of various awards, including the Queen's Gold Medal for Poetry, an O.B.E., an honorary fellowship from Manchester Polytechnic, and an honorary DLitt from Liverpool University. Probably most significant, however, is the dialogue between the two poets on literary topics. MS sought NN's advice on specific poems he produced, and on his attempts to find a publisher. This was a two-way process, and NN clearly also respected MS's opinions on his own work; in letter MSN/1/9, for example, he implies that he has emended his poem 'Cloud on Black Combe' in accordance with MS's comments. The correspondence covers an important period for both poets - one which saw the publication of Simpson's first full-length collection Making arrangements (Bloodaxe, 1982), and Nicholson's last major collection Sea to the west (Faber, 1981).

All the letters were sent by NN from his home in Millom. Unless stated otherwise, they are typescript with autograph and manuscript annotations, and they consist of one sheet only.


Because these letters have been extracted from the context of Simpson's own archive and show no evidence of original order, a chronological arrangement has been followed which reflects the way the correspondence would have accumulated over time.