Humphrey Jennings Papers

Scope and Content

This collection comprises the academic and literary papers of Humphrey Jennings, for the most part dating to his time as a postgraduate researcher at Cambridge in the early 1930s. The papers consist of draft writings and notes on Thomas Gray, the main focus of Jennings's research, and on other areas of research interest including plagiarism and literary borrowings, Christopher Marlowe's 'Tamburlaine' and Renaissance literature. The papers include material gathered by Jennings for his proposed works 'Le chariot' and 'Pandaemonium'. Within the small series of correspondence is a letter from William Empson.

Access Information

Unless restrictions apply, the collection is open for consultation by researchers using the Manuscripts Reading Room at Cambridge University Library. For further details on conditions governing access please contact Information about opening hours and obtaining a Cambridge University Library reader's ticket is available from the Library's website (

Acquisition Information

Purchased by Cambridge University Library on 20 July 2015.

Other Finding Aids

A catalogue of the collection can be found on ArchiveSearch.

Custodial History

From information supplied by the vendor, these papers were formerly held in the battered remains of a box file and were in the possession of the Canadian novelist and poet Elizabeth Smart (1913-86). The connection between Elizabeth Smart and Humphrey Jennings is not clear. Smart's son, the poet Sebastian Barker (1945-2014), made some attempt to arrange and number the papers. The pencil page numbers which recur throughout are presumed to be the work of Sebastian Barker. Barker's initial listing of the papers ('Humphrey Jennings Papers from the effects of Elizabeth Smart') and the paper wrappers he employed in this exercise have been retained, and are catalogued as MS Add.10097/6.

Related Material

Pembroke College, Cambridge: Humphrey Jennings papers (personal archives).

British Film Institute Special Collections: Humphrey Jennings Collection: papers and correspondence relating to films; publications; talks and lectures.

Jesus College, Cambridge: papers of Jacob Bronowski: file relating to a documentary about Humphrey Jennings (Bronowski 5/1/10); 'Recollections of Humphrey Jennings' (Bronowski 4/1/6); and other references in the collection.

Trinity College, Cambridge: papers of Julian Trevelyan: letters from Humphrey Jennings (JOT/2/19-26).