Many of the archives held in the Special Collections relate to creative practice. The greatest quantity of correspondence by authors, editors, translators, illustrators, typographers, printers, and designers may be found in the Archive of British Publishing and Printing. Files within each publishing archive are often arranged or indexed by author. See also the Art Collections for individual artworks and Rare Books for published works.

In addition to these, many archives relating to named writers and artists may be found here.

Fiction writers and poets

As well as the archive of Nobel Prize winning author Samuel Beckett, we hold papers relating to W.B. Yeats and his collaborators Edwin John Ellis and John Todhunter. Other notable collections include that of the poet Bernard Spencer. We also hold archives of Sylvia Lynd, historical novelist Margaret Irwin, John Hampson, Peter Porter and novelist and scriptwriter Elinor Glyn.

See also The MERL Archive for material relating to rural writers such as H.E. Bates.

Non-fiction writers, journalists and critics

The largest archives are those of the theatre critic J.C. Trewin, adventurer and travel writer Peter Fleming. Other archives include papers from the film critic Simon Louvish.

Film-makers and photographers

Our principal stand-alone film-maker’s archive is that of Stephen Dwoskin (limited access while cataloguing is undertaken), a key figure in British experimental cinema. Other film-making content may be found in the archives of Samuel Beckett and Elinor Glyn. Among photographers, the outstanding collection of vintage prints is that of Alvin Langdon Coburn, a pioneer of abstract photography.

See also The MERL Archive for documentary film and photography, and photojournalism.

Architectural design

Our records of architectural design cover a wide range and are complemented by our holdings of rare books. One of the principal collections is that of DEGW, founded by key architectural thinkers Frank Duffy, Luigi Giffone and John Worthington.

See also The MERL Archive for landscape architecture (including architects Sir Peter Shepheard and Sir Geoffrey Jellicoe).

Illuminated manuscripts

Although anonymously produced, mainly in monasteries, our fine collection of illuminated manuscripts and Books of Hours represents the artistic work of the medieval period.

More information

See our Collections A-Z pages for descriptions of each of our collections.

Many, but not all of our collections are catalogued and searchable via the online catalogue. Please contact us if you need more information.

You can access these collections via the reading room.

We welcome use of our collections in teaching sessions.

Search The Location Register database for the location of British and Irish literary manuscripts at other repositories here.

Search Writers Artists and Their Copyright Holders, a database of copyright contacts for writers, artists, and prominent figures in other creative fields here.