Archives of the Poetry Book Society
The Poetry Book Society was founded in 1953 under the auspices of the Arts Council of Great Britain to foster the art of poetry and to promote the work of contemporary poets. It continued to operate as recently as 2005. The society mails subscribers a book of poetry quarterly, accompanied by a Bulletin containing a contribution from the selected poet of the quarter. The collection includes proofs and issues of the society's Bulletin, typescripts, and correspondence between contributing poets and Charles Osborne, assistant secretary of the society. Among the significant figures represented are Barry Cole, Martin Dodsworth, Douglas Dunn, Thomas Kinsella, Geoffrey Grigson, Thom Gunn, John Fuller, David Harsent, Seamus Heaney, and David Holbrook.
Important Information for Users of the Collection
This collection is open for research.
Archives of the Poetry Book Society, Special Collections, University of Maryland Libraries.
Photocopies of original materials may be provided for a fee and at the discretion of the curator. Please see our Duplication of Materials policy for more information. Queries regarding publication rights and copyright status of materials within this collection should be directed to the appropriate curator.
This collection is PROCESSED.
The Poetry Book Society was founded in December 1953, under the auspices of the Arts Council of Great Britain, its purpose to "further the education of the people of this country by fostering and propagating the art of poetry and particularly by promoting knowledge, appreciation and enjoyment of the published work of contemporary poets." The first directors of the society included B. H. Blackwell, Joseph Compton, R. N. David, T. S. Eliot, Sir George Rostrevor Hamilton, and Erica Marx. Eric W. White became the society's first secretary. For further information about the society's beginnings, see Poetry Book Society: The First Twenty-Five Years, 1954-1978, by Eric W. White (London, 1979: Poetry Book Society).
Charles Osborne, assistant secretary of the society in the period represented in the Archives of the Poetry Book Society, was born in Brisbane, Australia, in 1927. He published more than fifteen works on opera and several novelizations of Agatha Christie stage plays. His best known work is W. H. Auden: The Life of a Poet (Harcourt, 1979).
The Poetry Book Society celebrated its fiftieth birthday in 2003. It continues to publish a quarterly Bulletin which is mailed along with a selected poetry book to subscribers. It also sells poetry books, offers poetry education programs and materials for teachers, and awards the annual T. S. Eliot Prize for poetry. The society is based in London. Its web site is http://www.poetrybooks.co.uk (last accessed October 2005).
Scope and Contents of the Collection
The Archives of the Poetry Book Society span the years from 1962 to 1970. The collection is comprised of correspondence between Charles Osborne and poets contributing to the Bulletin, typescripts and manuscripts, and short biographical notes written by the poets for inclusion in the Bulletin. There is also correspondence related to the administration of the society, proofs, copies of Bulletins, and material related to the International Poetry Festivals of 1967 and 1969, which the society organized.
Custodial History and Acquisition Information
The University of Maryland Libraries purchased the Archives of the Poetry Book Society on August 1, 1973.
Processed by: Linda Eileen Parris, October 1982. Reprocessed by Glen R. Gray, September 1998. Reprocessed and revised by Elisabeth Cohen, September 2005.
Before reprocessing in 2005, the arrangement of the collection included three series: Series I: Correspondence; Series II: The Poets; and Series III: Miscellaneous. Series I contained intra-organizational memoranda and correspondence between staff members of the Poetry Book Society, while correspondence between the society and contributing poets was included in Series II. That series, arranged alphabetically by poet, also contained manuscripts. In 2005, all correspondence was moved into a single series and a second series for manuscripts was established. Manuscript material was separated from correspondence for Barry Cole, Martin Dodsworth, Douglas Dunn, John Fuller, Geoffrey Grigson, David Harsent, John Hewitt, David Holbrook, Glyn Hughes, Thomas Kinsella, R. S. Thomas, and Peter Whigham. Material originally filed in Series III: Miscellaneous was redistributed between the two series created for correspondence and manuscripts, and a third series, Publications, was created for issues and proofs of the Bulletin that had been housed in a single folder.
EAD markup created using EAD database in Microsoft Access. Markup completed by Elisabeth Cohen, November 2005. Markup checked and verified by Jennie A. Levine, November 2005.
Arrangement of Collection
The collection is organized as three series.
Detailed Description of the Collection
Series 1: Correspondence, 1967-1970 and undated (18 folders)
This series contains business correspondence exchanged between Charles Osborne and poets contributing to the Bulletin and memoranda related to the publication of the Bulletin. The correspondence is arranged alphabetically by correspondent.
|Description||Series||Box / Reel||Folder / Frame|
|Brown, Victor, 1969||series 1||box 1||folder 1|
|Cole, Barry, 1968||series 1||box 1||folder 2|
|Dodsworth, Martin, 1968-1969||series 1||box 1||folder 3|
|Dunn, Douglas, 1969||series 1||box 1||folder 4|
|Fuller, John, 1968-1969||series 1||box 1||folder 5|
|Grigson, Geoffrey, 1969||series 1||box 1||folder 6|
|Guest, Harry, 1968||series 1||box 1||folder 7|
|Harsent, David, 1969||series 1||box 1||folder 8|
|Hewitt, John, 1969||series 1||box 1||folder 9|
|Hill, Geoffrey, 1968||series 1||box 1||folder 10|
|Holbrook, David, 1969||series 1||box 1||folder 11|
|Hughes, Glyn, 1970||series 1||box 1||folder 12|
|Kinsella, Thomas, 1967||series 1||box 1||folder 13|
|Roberts, Bernard, 1968-1969 and undated||series 1||box 1||folder 14|
|Stallworthy, Jon, 1968||series 1||box 1||folder 15|
|Thomas, R.S., 1968||series 1||box 1||folder 16|
|Watkins, Simon, 1968||series 1||box 1||folder 17|
|Whigham, Peter, 1968-1969||series 1||box 1||folder 18|
Series 2: Manuscripts, 1966-1970 and undated (21 folders)
This series is comprised of typescripts and manuscripts of essays and biographical notes submitted for inclusion in the Bulletin, with formatting notes. There are a few typescripts of poems and an unbound copy of Peter Porter's The Last of England. The material is arranged alphabetically by author.
|Description||Series||Box / Reel||Folder / Frame|
|Clarke, Austin, 1966-1967||series 2||box 1||folder 19|
|Cole, Barry, 1968||series 2||box 1||folder 20|
|Dodsworth, Martin, 1968-1969||series 2||box 1||folder 21|
|Dunn, Douglas, 1969||series 2||box 1||folder 22|
|Fuller, John, 1968-1969||series 2||box 1||folder 23|
|Grigson, Geoffrey, 1969||series 2||box 1||folder 24|
|Gunn, Thom, undated||series 2||box 1||folder 25|
|Hamilton, Ian, 1970||series 2||box 1||folder 26|
|Harsent, David, 1969||series 2||box 1||folder 27|
|Heaney, Seamus, 1969||series 2||box 1||folder 28|
|Hecht, Anthony, undated||series 2||box 1||folder 29|
|Hewitt, John, 1969||series 2||box 1||folder 30|
|Holbrook, David, 1969||series 2||box 1||folder 31|
|Hughes, Glyn, 1970||series 2||box 1||folder 32|
|Jennings, Elizabeth, undated||series 2||box 1||folder 33|
|Kinsella, Thomas, 1967||series 2||box 1||folder 34|
|Montague, John, 1970||series 2||box 1||folder 35|
|Porter, Peter, 1970||series 2||box 1||folder 36|
|Thomas, R.S., 1968||series 2||box 1||folder 37|
|Whigham, Peter, 1968-1969||series 2||box 1||folder 38|
|Williams, Hugo, 1970||series 2||box 1||folder 39|
Series 3: Publications, 1962-1970 and undated (11 folders)
The series contains proofs and issues of the Bulletin, accompanied by lists of the poetry books considered for selection. There are notes and a clipping related to the Poetry International Festivals of 1967 and 1969. The individual issues and materials related to them are arranged chronologically by issue, followed by undated manuscripts and then by the Poetry International Festival material.
|Description||Series||Box / Reel||Folder / Frame|
|Bulletin #34, September 1962||series 3||box 1||folder 40|
|Bulletin #57, Summer 1968||series 3||box 1||folder 41|
|Bulletin #58, Autumn 1968||series 3||box 1||folder 42|
|Bulletin #59, Christmas 1968||series 3||box 1||folder 43|
|Bulletin #60, Spring 1969||series 3||box 1||folder 44|
|Bulletin #61, Summer 1969||series 3||box 1||folder 45|
|Bulletin #63, Winter 1969||series 3||box 1||folder 46|
|Bulletin #65, Summer 1970||series 3||box 1||folder 47|
|Bulletin #66, Autumn 1970||series 3||box 1||folder 48|
|Bulletin manuscripts, undated, undated||series 3||box 1||folder 49|
|Poetry International Festival, 1967-1969||series 3||box 1||folder 50|
Material related to the operation of the Poetry Book Society from 1952 to 1965 is held by the University of Maryland of Washington University in Clayton, Missouri, in the Erica Marx collection. Issues of the Poetry Book Society Bulletin from the 1980s and 1990s are held by Yale University Library and the University of Colorado. Cambridge University Library holds a major collection of Charles Osborne's correspondence and papers from the 1950s through 1986. The University of Maryland has a small collection of Thom Gunn's papers, mostly from the late 1960s. Of the other poets who appear in the collection, the University of Texas holds a collection of Austin Clarke's manuscripts and correspondence and some of Geoffrey Grigson's literary papers and correspondence. Boston College holds a Seamus Heaney collection. The University of Delaware has Elizabeth Jennings's papers from 1940 to 1969. Princeton University has Ian Hamilton's notes, drafts, letters, and legal briefs related to his unpublished biography of J. D. Salinger. The University of Indiana holds a collection of Peter Porter's manuscripts dating from 1960 to 1966.
For other related archival and manuscript collections, please see the following subject guides.
Selected Search Terms
This collection is indexed under the following headings in the University of Maryland Libraries' Catalog. Researchers desiring related materials about these topics, names, or places may search the Catalog using these headings.
- Poetry, Modern -- Periodicals -- History -- Sources
- Poetry, Modern -- Societies, etc. -- History -- Sources
- Poetry Book Society -- Archives
- Publishers and publishing -- Great Britain -- Correspondence
- Publishers and publishing -- Great Britain -- History -- Sources
Names (Added Entries)
- Brown, Victor
- Clarke, Austin, 1934-
- Cole, Barry
- Dodsworth, Martin
- Dunn, Douglas
- Fuller, John
- Grigson, Geoffrey, 1905-
- Guest, Harry
- Gunn, Thom
- Hamilton, Ian, 1938-
- Harsent, David, 1942-
- Heaney, Seamus, 1939-
- Hecht, Anthony, 1923-
- Hewitt, John Harold, 1907-
- Hill, Geoffrey
- Holbrook, David
- Hughes, Glyn, 1935-
- Jennings, Elizabeth, 1926-
- Kinsella, Thomas
- Montague, John
- Osborne, Charles, 1927-
- Porter, Peter
- Roberts, Bernard
- Stallworthy, Jon
- Thomas, R. S. (Ronald Stuart), 1913-
- Whigham, Peter
- Williams, Hugo, 1942-