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Allen Freer Papers

Date range: 1911-present

Medium: Archive

Allen Freer’s lifelong interest in art began while he was at Cambridge in the 1940s, when he was influenced by Jim Ede and Kettle’s Yard. As a teacher in the Midlands in the 1950s, and later as Inspector of English for Manchester schools, he sought to inspire pupils through direct contact with artists and writers. He acquired artworks as teaching resources, while building his own collection of fine art, illustrated books, ceramics and handmade furniture. Many works were acquired directly from their makers, with whom Allen Freer has developed lasting relationships. He has published several books, most notably a study of John Nash.

The archive of Allen Freer reflects the full spectrum of his activities and interests, both professional and personal. It is a rich resource for students of 20th-century British poetry, fine art, the decorative arts (especially pottery), the art and poetry of war (especially of the First and Second World Wars), printmaking, watercolour drawing, book illustration, private press printing,art collecting, and the teaching of creative writing and English literature.

The archive has a wealth of material on five artists and writers in whom Freer has a special interest: Albert Richards, Thomas Hennell, Wilfred Owen, H. J. Massingham and John Nash.

There are significant numbers of letters from:

  • Artists such as Edward Bawden, Prunella Clough, Terry Frost, Ivon Hitchens, John Nash, Mary Newcomb, Winifred Nicholson, John Piper, William Scott and Keith Vaughan;
  • Writers including Ronald Blythe, David Gascoyne,Phoebe Hesketh, Frances Horovitz, Glyn Hughes, Roland Mathias, Norman Nicholson, Peter Porter, Jon Silkin and Anthony Thwaite;
  • Ceramists such as Michael Cardew, Jim Malone, Katherine Pleydell-Bouverie and Lucie Rie;
  • Private press printers, notably Will Carter of the Rampant Lions Press, Douglas Cleverdon of Clover Hill Editions, Simon Lawrence of the Fleece Press, John Randle of the Whittington Press, and David Wishart of the Hayloft Press.

See also:

Further information:

Summary description available online via ELGAR.


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