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Jeff Nuttall Papers

Date range: 1960s-1970s

Medium: Archive

Jeff Nuttall (1933–2004), artist, poet, jazz musician, social commentator, theatrical innovator and influential art teacher, was a pivotal figure in the 1960s counter-culture in Britain.

He played a key role in the international ‘underground’ press and literary scene, exchanging writings and ideas with fellow thinkers in the United States and Europe, such as William Burroughs, Carl Weissner, Alexander Trocchi, Bob Cobbing and dom sylvester houédard, initiating small journals such as the anarchic cut-up My Own Mag, and collaborating on publishing projects.

His contribution to the early development of ‘happenings’ in Britain was particularly important. From the 1960s through to the mid ’80s Nuttall was an inspirational art teacher at Leeds and Liverpool Polytechnics, promoting experimental approaches and crossing creative boundaries. He also gained a reputation as a significant poet of his generation, publishing collections of his own work and regularly contributing to various literary journals such as Ambit.

Above all, Jeff Nuttall remained passionate about the emancipatory role of the arts in creating a more humane and open society.

This small collection of Jeff Nuttall’s personal papers, labelled by him ‘the ’60s box’, contains unique manuscripts of literary and artistic value relating to various ’zines, such as My Own Mag, which Nuttall produced and edited.

There is also a very significant sequence of in-letters from over one hundred poets, writers, artists and activists who contributed to various Nuttall projects.

Most of the correspondents are of national or international standing and they include: William Burroughs (and his collaborators, Karl Wiessner and Donatella Manganotti), Lawrence Ferlinghetti and the staff of San Francisco’s City Lights Bookshop, Harry Fainlight, David Holbrook, Anselm Hollo, dom sylvester houédard, John Latham, Lee Harwood, Eric Mottram, Brian Patten, Barry McSweeney, Klaus Lea, Edward Lucie-Smith, George McBeth, Jonathan Williams, Patrick Hughes, Gustav Metzger, Tom Pickard, Tom Raworth, Jiri Valoch and Ian Breakwell.

The archive also contains a previously unknown, unique Burroughs ‘cut up’, ‘pure word experiment’.

Since acquiring the ‘Sixties box’ the Library has acquired further Jeff Nuttall material including a donation from Jill Richards:

  • 3 art works: 2 ceramics and 1 oil painting of Lumbutts (1985);
  • 4 black and white photographic prints of People Show performances, c.1960s/70 (one framed);
  • 13 pencil and ink drawings from 1974, mounted but unframed;
  • 1 framed pen and ink drawing;
  • 2 boxes of manuscript prose and poetry.

In 2017 a small number of oral history interviews were recorded about Jeff Nuttall as part of a pilot sound archive project. Please contact the Library for further information.

The Library also holds an incomplete run of My Own Mag (issues 5-17) and one issue of George Son of My Own Mag, some of which are found within the Dick Wilcocks collection.

There are also related collections of Robert Bank, Dick Wilcock and Priscilla Sharples (Rose Maguire), all of which are currently uncatalogued.

Further information:

Uncatalogued. An outline list for parts of this collection is available via the Special Collections reading rooms.


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