The Jacquetta Hawkes Archive

Scope and Content

Notebooks, diaries. Manuscripts and typescripts of published books, articles, reviews, lectures, broadcasts and other audio-visual work, poems and plays, with correspondence and other papers. Extensive personal correspondence with J.B. Priestley, other family members, friends and associates; letters of appreciation; business and professional correspondence. Minutes and other papers of organisations including Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament and local schools. Photographs, personal documents, significant objects, press cuttings and biographical material.

Administrative / Biographical History

Jacquetta Hawkes (1910-1996) had an immensely rich and varied life, motivated by her passion for the distant past. She was a highly respected archaeologist, a writer of poems, plays and articles, a film-maker and broadcaster and peace campaigner. She published over 20 books, her best-known work is probably A Land (1951), which fuses archaeology, literature, geology and art to explore Britain's past and present. Other works included Prehistoric Britain (co-written with Christopher Hawkes), Early Britain, Man on Earth and Man and the sun, plus novels, plays and Fables.

Jessie Jacquetta Hopkins was born in Cambridge and educated at Perse School. Her father was Sir Frederick Gowland Hopkins, Nobel Prize winner for his work on vitamins. She was accepted at Newnham College, Cambridge, gaining first-class honours in the new archaeological tripos. Her first husband was fellow archaeologist Christopher Hawkes, with whom she had a son. During the 1930s, she was involved in excavations at Mount Carmel, Palestine, Gergovia in France, and in Hampshire, and led a dig in County Waterford in 1939.

During World War II, she worked as a civil servant. She met the writer J.B. Priestley at a UNESCO delegation in Mexico in 1947; they married in 1953. They co-wrote two plays, Dragon's Mouth and The White countess, and philosophical travel book, Journey down a rainbow, which discussed society in Mexico and the United States. Jacquetta was archaeological advisor to the Festival of Britain, for which she received the O.B.E. in 1952. With Priestley, she was instrumental in the founding of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament in 1958. In 1959, the Priestleys made their home at Kissing Tree House, Alveston, Warwickshire. Their extensive circle of friends included Canon and Diana Collins, Iris Murdoch, Henry Moore, and other archaeologists, writers and artists. After Priestley's death in 1984, Jacquetta moved to Littlecote in Chipping Camden, Gloucestershire. Her final published book was The Shell Guide to British Archaeology in 1986. She died in 1996.


This archive has been artificially arranged on archival principles. Where material was already divided into files, that structure has been retained, otherwise, the material has been divided by subject and date. A few items obviously mis-filed or loose have been re-filed correctly. The arrangement lays stress on Jacquetta's work as a professional author and on the archive's overlap with the J.B. Priestley Archive (GB 0532 PRI): the Priestleys shared a secretary. Jacquetta's notebooks contain material relevant to her writings, business and personal life and can cover many years: we therefore placed them in series 1, at the start of the arrangement.

Access Information

Available to researchers, by appointment. Access to archive material is subject to preservation requirements and must also conform to the restrictions of the Data Protection Act and any other appropriate legislation. In particular, correspondence and any other material not yet audited for data protection is restricted access pending review. There are no restrictions on series 1, 18 and 19 under present legislation. Enquirers should contact the Special Collections Librarian for information about the status of the material they wish to view.

Acquisition Information

The bulk of the archive donated by Dr Nicolas Hawkes, 2003 and subsequently.

Other Finding Aids

Unpublished handlist.

Archivist's Note

Described by John Brooker and Alison Cullingford. We are grateful to the various graduate trainees and volunteers who have assisted with listing, particularly of the correspondence.

Conditions Governing Use

Copies may be supplied or produced at the discretion of Special Collections staff, subject to copyright law and the condition of the originals. Applications for permission to make published use of any material should be directed to the Special Collections Librarian in the first instance. The Library will assist where possible with identifying copyright owners but responsibility for ensuring copyright clearance rests with the user of the material.

Appraisal Information

Documents containing sensitive personal data of low archival relevance have been weeded from series 12, 14, 15 and 17. These documents mainly consisted of job applications and related correspondence. Circulars and other material not relevant to Jacquetta's role as school governor have been removed from series 14 and offered to the originating schools. This appraisal is ongoing.

Related Material

The J.B. Priestley Archive, Special Collections, University of Bradford (GB 0532 PRI).

The Christopher Hawkes Archive, Department of Western Manuscripts, Bodleian Library.

Location of Originals

15/3/2. Photocopies of material from the Christopher Hawkes archive in the Department of Western Manuscripts at the Bodleian Library.

15/4/11. Photocopies of letters from JJH to Vita Sackville-West and to Nigel Nicolson, 1953, from Nigel Nicolson to JJH and her replies, 1982. Originals held by Nigel Nicolson.

15/4/23. Photocopies of letters from JJH to Joan Lampen, 1972-1995. Originals returned to Joan Lampen.


Several works by Dr Christine Finn, official biographer of Jacquetta Hawkes, including her entry in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, and A life online, her online biography of Jacquetta, hosted by Stanford University. Diana Collins used letters, photographs, and other material in her joint biography of Jacquetta and Priestley, Time and the Priestleys (Sutton, 1994).