Knight Family Papers

Scope and Content

The collection includes Jackson Knight's own papers, including his notes, manuscripts and typescripts for his books, personal documents such as birth certificate etc, some poems, employment documents, correspondence rel to his setting up of Erasmus, offprints of his works, obituaries, and many sequences of correspondence, some of which were returned to Wilson Knight after Jackson's death to assist him in writing his biography. There is also a copy of the biography in the collection.

Administrative / Biographical History

William Francis Jackson Knight (1895-1964), classical scholar, the elder son of George Knight and Caroline Louisa Jackson, was educated at Dulwich College and Hertford College Oxford, to which he won an open scholarship in Classics. He served as a despatch rider during the First World War. After a number of teaching jobs, including ten years at All Saints' School, Bloxham, he became a temporary lecturer in Classics at the University of St Andrews. The following year he accepted an Assistant Lectureship at Exeter, which he turned to a Lectureship the next year and a Readership in 1942. He remained at Exeter, a committed educationalist who inspired hundreds of students, until and after he retired. His publications included several works on Virgil, including Vergil's Troy (1932), Cummaean Gates (1936), Accentual Symmetry in Vergil (1939), Roman Vergil (1943), Vergil and Homer (1950), and Virgil's Aeneid, a translation (Penguin Classics, 1956). In addition he played a key role in extra-mural activities, encouraging young poets and establishing and commanding the University's Officer Training Corps. He established the international review Erasmus. His biography, by his brother George Wilson Knight, was published in 1975.

George Richard Wilson Knight (1897-1984), Professor of English Literature, was the young son of George Knight and Caroline Louisa Jackson, and the younger brother of Jackson Knight. Like his brother, he was educated at Dulwich College and also served as a despatch rider during the Great War (see also EUL MS 84) . After graduating from St Edmund Hall, Oxford, he became a teacher of English. Shorts spells at Hawtreys (1923-5), Dean Close School (1925-31), University of Toronto (1931-1940), and Stowe (1941-46) were followed by his appointment as Reader in English Literature at Leeds University in 1946. From 1956 he was Professor of English Literature at Leeds, retiring in 1962. His publications, beginning with Myth and Miracle (1929) and the Wheel of Fire (1930) number more than thirty. He produced and acted in a number of theatrical performances, especially Shakespearian, on both sides of the Atlantic. He received an Honorary DLitt from Exeter in 1968. His biography of his brother, based in part on the family's papers represented in this collection, was published in 1975. He retired to Exeter, living in his brother's house just off the university campus, until his death in 1984.


The collection is still largely as sorted by Wilson Knight for the purposes of writing Jackson Knight's biography, with family correspondence separately sorted.

Access Information

Usual EUL arrangements apply

Acquisition Information

All these were deposited by Wilson Knight in 1983, together with his own notes and papers relating to his brother's life, and runs of family correspondence.

Other Finding Aids


Conditions Governing Use

Usual EUL arrangements apply

Custodial History

Jackson Knight's papers were collected by Wilson Knight after his death, and used for the biography, Jackson Knight: a biography (1975). Many runs of correspondence from Jackson Knight were sent to Wilson Knight to facilitate his work.

Related Material

G Wilson Knight, Jackson Knight: a biography (Oxford, 1975)