Ann and Anthony Thwaite Archive

Scope and Content

An exceptional collection of literary and associated material documenting the lives and works of Anthony and Ann Thwaite.

The literary papers of both Ann and Anthony Thwaite are listed together. This represents the way the material has been kept by the Thwaites and acquired by Special Collections. Much of the correspondence, is addressed to both and would not be possible to divide. Where the material clearly relates to either Ann or Anthony, this is specified in the catalogue record.

The collection includes correspondence, literary drafts and research material, scripts, press cuttings, periodicals, diaries and photographs.

The most significant group of material within the collection is the correspondence. This is addressed to both Ann and Anthony Thwaite from a very wide range of correspondents, often spanning several decades.

Archival material is grouped in series by type and generally arranged chronologically. Correspondence series are arranged by correspondent.

Administrative / Biographical History

Anthony Thwaite (born 23 June 1930) is an English poet, critic and editor of Philip Larkin's collected poems and letters. Thwaite was born in Chester and spent much of his childhood in Yorkshire where his father, Hartley Thwaite, was a bank manager in Leeds. He spent the war years staying with family in America. Thwaite was educated at Kingswood School, Bath, and later at Christ Church, Oxford. His National Service was spent at Leptis Magna in Libya.

Thwaite's first poetry pamphlet was published by the Fantasy Press in 1953. Much of Thwaite's early work was published in the Listener, the New Statesman the Times Literary Supplement, and the Spectator. At Oxford, he edited the weekly magazine Isis, became president of the Poetry Society. His poetry includes the collections Home Truths (1957), The Owl in the Tree (1963), The Stones of Emptiness: Poems 1963-66 (1967), which won the Richard Hillary Memorial Prize, Inscriptions (1973), New Confessions (1974), A Portion for Foxes (1977), and Victorian Voices (1980). Poems 1953-1988 was published in 1989, Selected Poems 1956-1996 in 1997 and A Different Country: New Poems in 2000.

He has held various academic appointments, including 1955 – 1957 at the University of Tokyo; 1965 - 1967 at the University of Libya in Benghazi; 1972 Henfield Writing Fellow at the University of East Anglia; 1974 Visiting Professor at Kuwait University; 1985-1986 Japan Foundation Fellowship at the University of Tokyo and 1992 Poet-in-Residence at Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee.

Thwaite worked at the BBC from 1958 – 1965 (and briefly in 1967) first as a radio producer, and later Literary Editor of the Listener. He has held various editorial positions including 1968-1972 Literary Editor of the New Statesman, 1973 – 1985 co-editor of Encounter magazine, editor of the Poetry list at Secker and Warburg, and editorial director of André Deutsch.

Thwaite has been a regular book reviewer for the Observer and later for the Sunday Telegraph and the Guardian. He has judged many prizes and literary competitions, sat on literature advisory committees (Arts Council and British Council), presented radio programmes and 'Writers World' on BBC2. In 1986 he was Chairman of the Booker Prize judges.

Thwaite has two honorary doctorates, from Hull University and from the University of East Anglia. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and was awarded an OBE for services to poetry in 1990. He won the Richard Hillary Memorial Prize in 1967 and the Cholmondeley Award in 1984. Together with Andrew Motion, Thwaite is a literary executor of the estate of Philip Larkin.

Ann Thwaite (born 4 October 1932) is a biographer and author of children's books. She was born in London, and spent the war years in New Zealand. She returned to the U.K. to complete her education at Queen Elizabeth's, Barnet, and St Hilda's College, Oxford.

She is the author of five major biographies:
Frances Hodgson Burnett (originally published (1974) as Waiting for the Party and reissued in 2007 with the sub-title Beyond the Secret Garden)
Edmund Gosse: A Literary Landscape (1985)
AA Milne: His Life (1990)
Glimpses of the Wonderful (2002) (about the life of Edmund's father, Philip Henry Gosse)
Emily Tennyson, The Poet's Wife (1996)

Her books for children include The Camelthorn Papers (1969), translated into Japanese and Greek, Tracks, and, Gilbert and the Birthday Cake. She also reviewed children's books, mainly in The Times Literary Supplement, for many years. From 1968 – 1975 Ann Thwaite edited Allsorts, an annual collection of writing for children. She also edited collections including My Oxford (1977) and Portraits from Life (1991). Ann Thwaite is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. She is an Honorary Fellow of Roehampton University (National Centre for Research into Children's Literature) and has an honorary doctorate from the University of East Anglia. She won the Duff Cooper Prize in 1985 for her biography of Gosse. Her AA Milne biography was the Whitbread Biography of the Year in 1990.

Ann and Anthony Thwaite met at Oxford and married in 1955. They have lived in Tokyo, Benghazi and Nashville, Tennessee, before settling in Norfolk.


Archival material is grouped in series by type and generally arranged chronologically. Correspondence series are arranged by correspondent.

Access Information

Some parts of this collection have not been listed in detail and access may be restricted under the Data Protection Act and other relevant legislation. Please consult the relevant part of the catalogue for specific details. Where a detailed record does not exist, please contact Special Collections. Upon receipt of your request, a member of the team will discuss your requirements with you and review relevant material accordingly.

Conditions Governing Use

Material in this collection is in copyright. Photocopies or digital images can only be supplied by the Library for research or private study within the terms of copyright legislation. It is the responsibility of the researcher to obtain the copyright holder's permission to reproduce for any other purpose. Guidance is available on tracing copyright status and ownership.