George Wilson Knight Archive

Scope and Content


(1) Knight's letters to:
a) Francis Berry, 1931-1985;
b) John Duncan Christie, 1962-1985;
and c) John E. Van Domelen, especially concerning the latter's biography of Knight, 'The Tarzan of Athens', together with letters from others to Van Domelen;

(2) Knight's literary papers, including
a) Early manuscript books of his poetry from ca. 1916 onwards, including a printed collection published during the First World War and a typescript of his collection 'Gold-Dust' with manuscript revisions;
b) Papers relating to three of his novels, notably reviews of 'Klinton Top', a typescript of and other papers concerning 'The Green Mazurka', and a typescript draft of 'The Shadow of God';
c) Papers relating to his play 'The Last of the Incas';
d) Typescript draft of his biography of his mother, 'Caroline: Life and After-Life';
e) Papers concerning John E. Van Domelen's biography, including three typescript drafts of 'The Tarzan of Athens';
f) Typescript acting version of Shakespeare's 'Timon of Athens' (1948);
g) Papers relating to Byron;
h) Papers relating to John Cowper Powys;
i) Dramatic papers, especially concerning Shakespeare and 'The Symbol of Man', including photographs of stage scenes;
j) Papers relating to 'Lady Chatterley's Lover', John Masefield, his brother Professor W.F. Jackson Knight, Herbert Read, and Murray Hickey Ley;
k) Papers relating to T.S. Eliot, including letters to, from, and concerning him, press cuttings, and some printed works;
l) Papers relating to his audio and video recordings;
m) Scrapbook concerning Leeds University Union Theatre Group presented to Knight in 1962;
and n) Miscellaneous drafts and offprints of biographical works concerning Knight, including his autobiographical work 'Road to Kasvin' (1917-20), documents relating to his years on the staff of Dean Close School, Cheltenham, papers relating to the South West of England Shakespeare Trust, the Wilson Knight Memorial Fund, and the Wilson Knight Interdiscipline Society at Nassau Community College, New York, drafts of some of his other works, and reviews by him;
and (3) Miscellaneous artefacts relating to Knight, including:
2 bronze statuettes, the larger one of 'Professor Wilson Knight, 1975', the smaller one of 'Wilson Knight as Timon, 1980, by Peter Thursby',
his theatrical loincloth used in his productions of 'Timon of Athens',
8 audio cassettes of Knight's recordings of talks on members of his family, his life, career, and acting, literary matters, spiritualism, the Second World War, and moral questions,
10 reels of tape recordings of talks by Knight on Byron, Shakespeare, and personal reminiscences and views voiced in interviews,
and 5 gramophone records featuring talks given by Knight and others on literary subjects, especially Shakespeare.

Includes 10 reels of tape, 8 audio cassettes, 5 gramophone records, 1 birthday card, a pipeholder box, a theatrical loincloth, and 2 bronze statuettes.

Additional material listed 2014: 5 manuscript letters form Knight to Sir Richard Rees as editor of the Adelphi and 1 letter to John Middleton Murry, 1933-1938; also includes letter from Max Ploughman to Rees about Knight. Typescript copy of letter from Knight to Morris Maxwell, with Maxwell's reply included, 1969.

Additional material listed 2016: 2 MSs, a TS (with numerous autograph corrections) and a set of galley proofs (with numerous autograph corrections) of 'Rupert Brooke' by Knight. 87pp, 4to &c, 1967-1970). Essay published in Neglected Powers (1971).

(4) Material relating to Francis Berry (moved from BC MS 20C Berry). Contains papers by Wilson Knight relating to Berry, including an essay entitled 'Francis Berry', dated 1961, and a review of Berry's collection of poems 'Morant Bay and other Poems', and notably Wilson Knight correspondence recommending Francis Berry for the poet laureateship, and for an honorary doctorate.

Administrative / Biographical History

George Wilson Knight (1897-1985), the literary scholar, was Professor of English Literature at the University of Leeds between 1956 and 1962 and wrote many works of literary criticism, notably on Shakespeare. He formed a close friendship with Professor Francis Berry, who is the recipient of many of the letters held in this collection. For fuller details of his life and achievements see the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.

Access Information

This collection is subject to various access conditions. Please see individual catalogue descriptions for further details on access.