mobile menu decorative search icon decorativeSearch the site

L.P. Hartley Papers

Date range: 1908–72.

Leslie Poles Hartley (1895–1972) published eighteen novels and six volumes of short stories in a career that spanned six decades.

His reputation as a writer was established with the publication of the trilogy of novels, The Shrimp and the Anemone (1944), The Sixth Heaven (1946), and Eustace and Hilda (1947), which were inspired by Hartley’s fondness for the Edwardian England of his childhood and adolescence.

This nostalgic theme was continued in The Go-Between (1953), with its famous opening line, ‘The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there’; this story of sexual and class tensions was later made into a highly successful film. Hartley grew increasingly ill at ease with modern life and his later literary output was of variable quality and vehemently reactionary.

The papers comprise:

  • general letters to Hartley, including letters from Lady Cynthia Asquith, Daphne Du Maurier, Aldous Huxley, Lady Ottoline Morrell, Harold Pinter, Anthony Powell, J.B. Priestley, Siegfried Sassoon, Edith, Osbert and Sacheverell Sitwell, Stevie Smith and Sir Hugh Walpole
  • business letters; letters to Hartley concerning his CBE
  • letters from Hartley to his family and others
  • original manuscripts of thirteen novels and forty-four short stories
  • proofs and corrected proofs of novels and short stories
  • press cuttings
  • scripts of broadcasts, talks and reviews
  • scripts, screenplays and photographs of the film production of The Go-Between
  • bound copies of the Weekend Review

Additional material donated in 1998 by Hartley’s long-time friend, Mrs Joan Hall of Bramhall, Cheshire, comprises several hundred letters sent by the novelist to Mrs Hall during the last decade of his life, annotated typescripts of The Collections (1972) and The Will and the Way (1973), and auction catalogues for the sale of his effects.

See also the L.P. Hartley book collection.

Finding aids

  • Unpublished handlist.
  • Note in Bulletin of the John Rylands University Library of Manchester, vol. 64 (1981-2), pp. 1-2.


The John Rylands Library

Using the reading rooms in the John Rylands Library