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Adam Johnson Papers

Date range: 1965–93.

The gay poet Adam Johnson (1965–93) was born in Stalybridge, a small industrial town in the shadow of the Pennines.

In 1984 he moved to London, where he worked for the BBC, a theatre-booking agency and a publisher. He self-published his first collection of poems, In the Garden, in 1986.

During the last years of his life, especially after he had been diagnosed HIV-positive in 1991, his writing developed at a remarkable rate.

He delivered the typescript of The Playground Bell to Carcanet Press just three weeks before he died in 1993, at the age of twenty-eight.

Carcanet also published his Collected Poems, edited by Neil Powell, in 2003.

This small but diverse archive includes personal documents (birth and death certificates, letters, diaries and family photographs) alongside literary material on computer disk and on paper (typewritten and holograph). 

It also contains artefacts previously owned by the poet such as his typewriter and baby shoes.

It forms an invaluable source for literary critics and historians of twentieth-century literature, especially those concerned with the issue of sexuality and poetry.

Finding aids

Unpublished handlist.


The John Rylands Library

Using the reading rooms in the John Rylands Library

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