Newcastle University Library

Robinson Library
Newcastle University
Newcastle upon Tyne
Tyne and Wear


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Newcastle University library is home to a wealth of literary archives and special collections outlined below. Please see website for further details about access and a full list of the literary archives.

Chaplin Papers
The papers of the local writer Sid Chaplin (1916-1986) cover the years 1930-1990 and relate to his writing career and other involvements throughout his life. His work strongly reflected his formative years in the pit villages of County Durham, his time in the coal industry and his other interests, particularly the history and culture of the North-East. The material comprises typescripts of Chaplin’s published and unpublished novels, short stories, poetry, plays and articles, television and radio drama, diaries and notebooks, newspaper cuttings, photographs and correspondence.

MacSweeney Papers
The personal papers of local poet Barry MacSweeney (1948-2000), who was an important figure in the Modern Poetry Revival, include manuscripts and published works, correspondence, literature reviews, poetry publications, photographs and newspapers articles.  Barry MacSweeney’s library of books and journals is held in the School of English Literature, Language and Linguistics at Newcastle University.

Common Papers
The papers of Jack Common (1900-1968) are a rich resource for those interested in the history of this talented Tyneside-born writer and in the history of the working class. They include published and unpublished typescripts and manuscripts of his work, including Kiddar’s Luck, his fictionalised childhood autobiography, published in 1951, along with diaries, notebooks, research notes, news cuttings, correspondence and photographs.

Cookson Papers
Donated by the North-East writer Dame Catherine Cookson (1906-1998), this small collection of papers includes the manuscripts from two of her books, an interview recorded in 1985 and examples of the Dictaphone tapes she used to create her books.

Pollard Collection
Mainly a collection of the published works of author Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936), but does contain a small amount archival material, including illustrations of Kipling and scenes from The Jungle Books and later audio narrations of his works.

Whyte Papers
The papers of Frederic Whyte (1867-1941) form a literary archive although it contains a large amount of correspondence. The letters date largely from the late-Nineteenth and early-Twentieth Centuries and include correspondence with publishers, editors and literary agents. Correspondence also includes letters from Arthur Conan Doyle, George Bernard Shaw and correspondence with H.G. Wells.

Honigmann Papers
Papers of Ernst Anselm Joachim Honigmann (1927–2011) Professor of English Literature, Shakespeare scholar, and Fellow of the British Academy, relating to his research and publications

Gibson Papers
Although George Gibson (fl. 1800-1850) was a farm steward to Sir M.W. Ridley, Blagdon, Northumberland, the Gibson Papers are really a literary archive, with some material which may be considered pertinent to the history of education in Gibson’s ciphering book (1804) – mathematical problems, solutions and rules; a poem; information about weights, measures and the value of money as well as his many doodles.

Manuscript Album
The Manuscript Album contains letters, including some by people of local significance like Thomas Bewick, Richard Grainger, George Stephenson, George Otto Trevelyan, Robert Spence Watson and Joseph Swan and others written by such household names as A.E. Houseman, Horatio Nelson, Isambard Kingdom Brunel, William Wilberforce, Michael Faraday, William Ewart Gladstone, Thomas Carlyle, Walter Besant, Mary Shelley, Charles Babington, Garibaldi, Victor Hugo, Ellen Terry, Rudyard Kipling and Robert Southey.

Miscellaneous Manuscripts
The Miscellaneous Manuscripts include some local history material, particularly relating to nineteenth-century bonds and deeds and to the coal trade as well as A collection of recipes, compiled in the years 1684-5; agriculturalist Robert Bakewell’s Letters to George Culley, 1786-1792; eighteenth-century household account books; manuscript letters from Henry Liddell on the 1715 Jacobite Rebellion; early twentieth-century National Service League memoranda; An alphabetical list of members of the Northumberland Militia enrolled between 1809 and 1813, giving their full names, places of residence, trades, ages, dates of enrolment, and parishes for which installed; a fair copy of poems by Mary Coleridge, bound in vellum, which she made for a friend in 1891 and which was later published as Fancy’s Following; worksheets, correspondence, typescripts and a postcard relating to Tony Harrison’s Newcastle is Peru and letters from Sean O’Casey to the People’s Theatre, Newcastle.

Spence Watson
This collection consists of papers relating to the Newcastle-born politician, co-founder of Armstrong College (now Newcastle University), and social and educational reformer Robert Spence Watson (1837-1911) and, to a lesser extent, his wife Elizabeth (1838-1919), a Quaker who was involved with many of her husband’s projects, in particular with educational projects such as the Industrial or Ragged Schools. There are also papers relating to their son-in-law Professor Frederick Ernest Weiss (1865-195), Professor of Botany at the University of Manchester, and his wife Evelyn, the Spence Watsons’ daughter.