British Council Collection
The British Council is the United Kingdom’s public diplomacy and cultural organisation. Part of its work is to send British writers on trips abroad in order to help international artistic understanding.
The collection contains correspondence between 183 British and Irish writers, and the British Council, together with reports of visits and other papers.
There are letters from a number of writers including Brian Aldiss; Alan Brownjohn; Margaret Drabble; T.S. Eliot; William Golding; Graham Greene; Michael Holroyd; Iris Murdoch; Stephen Spender; Julian Symons; Anthony Thwaite and Arnold Wesker. There are also documents (carbons and photocopies) relating to the illness and death in Vienna of the poet and British Council employee Bernard Spencer, sent to the British Council on behalf of Roger Bowen of the University of Arizona, who was preparing a biography. A manuscript page from an early draft of “A Passage to India”, with a note of authentication initialled by E. M. Forster, also survives in the collection having been found in the British Council offices in Rome. Papers relating to the radio series, “The poet speaks’, undertaken by the British Council from around 1956 until the 1970s. Papers include transcripts of interviews for ‘The poet speaks’, produced by Peter Orr to be used in the volume of the same name, published by Routledge and Kegan Paul. Interviewees include: Fleur Adcock; Kingsley Amis; John Betjeman; Charles Causley; Paul Durcan and McDaragh Woods talking to Joy Hatwood; Elaine Finestein; Seamus Heaney; Ted Hughes; Roger McGough; A D Mackie; T S Matthews; Sylvia Plath; Peter Porter; Rosemary Tonks and John Wain.
A 30 year closure from date of creation has been applied to the author files within this collection and permission is required from both the Literary Executor and the British Council to view any closed files. Please contact us for further information.
- A full description is available on our online database.
- A handlist for the whole collection can be found here.
- See also the Bernard Spencer Collection.
- See also the British Council website.
- See also the records of the British Council held by the National Archives.