The University of Edinburgh's rare and unique collections catalogue online.

Literary Archives

TitleLiterary Archives
DescriptionEdinburgh University Library has a rich and diverse collection of literary manuscripts, with particular strong holdings of 20th-century Scottish writing. Our modern Scottish collections include literary manuscripts and correspondence by some of the leading figures of the Scottish Literary Renaissance, such as Hugh MacDiarmid, Norman MacCaig, George Mackay Brown, Helen B. Cruickshank, Sydney Goodsir Smith, and Maurice Lindsay. Further significant collections cover earlier periods of Scottish literary history. For the 19th century, we have correspondence by Thomas and Jane Welsh Carlyle and Andrew Lang, while the Corson Collection of Sir Walter Scott materials includes a wealth of manuscripts, artworks, realia, and memorabilia relating to the ‘Wizard of the North’. Enlightenment Scotland is represented by lectures and correspondence by literary critic Hugh Blair, holder of the world’s first chair of English Literature, and by philosopher and historian Adam Ferguson. From an earlier and very different age comes one of the Library’s iconic items: a manuscript of Robert Kirk’s 'The Secret Commonwealth', an eccentric treatise on fairy superstitions and the second sight. For a fuller description of our Scottish literary holdings, see the separate entry on ‘Scottish Literary Manuscripts’. Our literary collections extend beyond Scotland to cover some of the major figures in 20th-century British writing. We have manuscript poetry by Rudyard Kipling along with a letter declining an invitation to stand for election as Rector of Edinburgh University in 1935. We have a wide selection of correspondence by poet and children’s writer Walter de la Mare. The Papers of John Middleton Murry include manuscripts, notebooks, and correspondence by this prolific and controversial critic and essayist of the inter-war years. The Bloomfield Collection of W. H. Auden Materials includes manuscripts of lectures and speeches by the distinguished Anglo-American poet. Finally, major post-war collections include manuscripts by poet and novelist John Wain, one of the leading 1950s ‘Movement’ writers, and by Robert Nye, whose highly versatile work in poetry and prose drew extensively on Celtic myth and legend.
OriginScotland; Scotland; Edinburgh

Image: Robert Kirk's Secret Commonwealth