Collection policy

Guidelines for developing the Collection of Modern Literary Archives held by the University of Manchester Library

"The past is like a great ship that has gone ashore, and archivist and writer must gather as much of the rich cargo as they can"

George Mackay Brown

The purpose of these Guidelines is to identify the type of archives which the JRUL will seek to acquire to develop and augment its Collection of Modern Literary Archives. They will be reviewed at least every five years by the Modern Literary Archives Team and other interested parties.

These guidelines are available to download:

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Collection analysis of the Modern Literary Archives held by The University of Manchester Library

Analysis of the Collection reveals strengths in the following areas:

  1. An excellent representation of twentieth century poetries in English.

    These are characterised as follows:
    • Significant poets flourishing throughout the twentieth century. A significant poet is defined as an established figure of the age whose reputation has already gained him or her a place in academic studies.
    • Twentieth and twenty first century prosody. This includes traditionally received stanzaic forms, rhymes and meters, as well as others which are experimental and avant-garde.
    • Poetries in English which cover a wide geographical spread including England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, America, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, India, South Africa, and the Caribbean.
    • Twentieth and twenty first century poetries which acknowledge ethnicity, gender and sexuality.
  2. An excellent representation of the history and development of the publishing of poetry, in monographs and magazines, during the second half of the twentieth century.
  3. An excellent representation of the criticism, editing, and reviewing of twentieth century poetries in English. 
  4. An excellent representation of translations into English of the works of significant twentieth century poets and novelists writing in other European languages.
  5. An excellent representation of twentieth and early twenty-first century life writing (autobiography, biography and self-representation).
  6. An excellent representation of the materiality of visual and literary texts and a fair representation of the history of the art and design of the book during the second half of the twentieth century.
  7. A strong representation of significant twentieth-century writers of fiction and prose within an national and international context.
  8. An excellent representation of literary and artistic networks and "imagined [literary] communities", especially where these networks engage with The University of Manchester, the locality and the region. The Collection demonstrates the strong contribution Manchester, and its region, has made to the national and international literary scenes.
  9. A good representation of some significant twentieth century British artists, sculptors and letter artists.

Developing the Colection of Modern Literary Archives

The Modern Literary Archives Collection's collecting policy seeks to show due consideration and respect for the acquisition policies of other institutions at local, national and international levels. It builds upon the existing subject strengths of the Collection in the field of modern poetry as outlined above. It is consolidated by purchase, gift, bequest and deposit.

The subject areas which are actively sought in order to develop the Collection of Modern Literary Archives include:

  1. Papers and archives which develop and augment the breadth and depth of the Library's holdings in recent and contemporary poetries in English.
  2. Papers of significant, twentieth century poets, and other writers, writing in English, especially where they, or their circle, are already represented in the Collection.
  3. Papers and archives which articulate the histories and development of poetry publishing, in monograph and magazine formats, from the twentieth century and recent and contemporary periods.
  4. Papers and archives which acknowledge ethnicity, gender, or sexuality, when they affect the development of recent or contemporary poetic form in English.
  5. Papers and archives which contain a representation of significant recent and contemporary poets who have connections with Manchester University or the North of England.
  6. Holdings of criticism, and the historiography of poetries in English, from the twentieth century and recent and contemporary periods. 
  7. Printed books and magazines, especially association copies, which contain the works of poets represented in the Collection and contribute to the history of the materiality of the visual and literary text.
  8. Papers and archives of twentieth century and recent and contemporary artists and artistic movements, only where they consolidate material already in the Collection.