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C.B. Cox Archive

Date range: c.1970–93.

The personal archive of Professor C.B. Cox (1928-2008), former John Edward Taylor Professor of English at Manchester University. 

As well as being a significant poet in his own right, Brian Cox was deeply concerned with the teaching of English, serving as Chair and later President of the National Council of Educational Standards, and Chair of the National Curriculum English Working Group.

He came to national prominence as the originator of the Black Papers, first published in 1969, which initiated a major debate in education which still rages today. He was also the co-founder, with his lifelong friend A.E. Dyson, of the literary journal Critical Quarterly.

The archive falls into two parts.

The first and largest concerns education, including files relating to the Black Papers, the campaign for Freedom in the Academic Community, the National Council for Educational Standards and conferences for teachers of English. 

The second comprises material arising from Cox’s literary activities, including correspondence relating to his poetry with John Betjeman, A.S. Byatt, Thom Gunn, Sophie Hannah, Tony Harrison, Ted Hughes, Frank Kermode, Philip Larkin, Andrew Motion, Norman Nicholson, Craig Raine, Michael Schmidt, Louis Simpson, R.S. Thomas and Charles Tomlinson.

Finding aids

  • Catalogue available online via ELGAR.
  • C.B. Cox, The Great Betrayal: Memoirs of a Life in Education (London, 1992).
  • Stella K. Halkyard and C.B. McCully, '"Thoughts of Inventive Brains and the Rich Effusions of Deep Hearts": Some of the Twentieth-Century Literary Archives of the John Rylands University Library of Manchester', Bulletin of the John Rylands University Library of Manchester, vol. 77, no. 2 (1995), pp. 105-21.


The John Rylands Library

Using the reading rooms in the John Rylands Library