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Elizabeth Jennings Papers

Elizabeth Jennings (1926–2001) was one of the twentieth century’s best-loved and most significant English poets.

Born in Lincolnshire, she moved to Oxford with her family at the age of six, and began to write poetry in her teens.

She read English at St Anne’s College, Oxford, between 1944 and 1947, and in the late ’40s her poetry began to win critical acclaim.

Her first slender collection, Poems, was published by the Fantasy Press in 1953, followed by the more substantial A Way of Looking in 1955, which won a Somerset Maugham award. Jennings received many literary prizes, including the Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry, and she was awarded a CBE in 1992.

Along with the work of other members of the literary group known as the Movement, her poetry displays ‘a love of simplicity, a dislike of any facetious mystification or decoration, and a willing acceptance of rhyme and metrical regularity.’

The collection comprises six folders of holograph manuscript poems, some signed by Elizabeth Jennings. These were donated to the Library by Jennings’s estate in 2006.

These were augmented in 2011 with the purchase of a collection of over forty holograph drafts of many of her best-known poems; a number of letters to Jennings from, among others, Seamus Heaney, Kingsley Amis, John Gielgud and Veronica Wedgwood; six studio photographs; and a small collection of books owned by Jennings, the majority inscribed by or dedicated to her.

The Carcanet Press Archive, the Critical Quarterly Archive, the Papers of Dennis and Joan Welland and the Papers of Grevel Lindop contain correspondence with and papers of Elizabeth Jennings.

Finding aids

Unpublished accession lists.


The John Rylands Library

Using the reading rooms in the John Rylands Library

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