Due to her financial pressures in the final decades of her life, Jennings sold her books, literary and personal papers to the United States. They were deposited in different libraries, according to the agent’s negotiations. More recently, other acquisitions have been made in both USA and UK.

Each online catalogue provides a detailed list of holdings. Intended as an initial guide to other researchers, the notes are headlines about the archives taken from the catalogue descriptions and first-hand experience where we have visited.


John Rylands University Library, University of Manchester
Carcanet Press Archive (CPA), Critical Quarterly Archive and Letters with Sister April O’Leary (accession number: 2004/007). Read more...
These Special Collections include many files of poems in draft, unpublished poems, and the processes of book selection to proofs and publication, up until her last book in 2001, all with accompanying correspondence. The individual catalogues provide a detailed overview of each holding. Most significant are:
  • CPA 2/1/41 - 1970-77.
  • CPA 2/2/59 - 1973-8.
  • CPA 2/3/81 - 1979-1980.
Here we have the most comprehensive collection of her personal and professional activities in these years. The correspondence with her friend and editor Michael Schmidt records the processes of writing, selecting, revising and publishing her volumes since he took over as her publisher.

Material from David Higham Associates donated 2006. These include six folders of holograph poetry MSS and one copy typescript entitled ‘New Poems’ by Jennings, dated 1993. Accession numbers: 2006/049 and 2006/ 053.
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University of Leeds
Brotherton Library, Special Collections.
Very interesting correspondence includes: Ralph Abercrombie (MS 20a Abercrombie), Boanamy Dobrée (1954), Michael Hamburger (1951-86 – BC Hamburger), Alan Ross (1987), Anthony Thwaite (MS BC Listener), 1962-4 letters from the Warneford Hospital and a script of her radio programme ‘Three Women Poets’ produced by George Macbeth (22 Aug. 1971).
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Bodleian Library, Oxford
Department of Manuscripts.
MS Eng.poet c 67 fols 5-11. (1984). Hard notebook, foolscap: ‘To Stanley Revell: Poems written 1969’. Most of the poems were published.
British Library, London
Department of Manuscripts
Add. MSS 52598-52599 Notebook and correspondence.
Jennings’ child’s notebooks include parts of a play she wrote, some poems, drawings, thoughts and a prayer. Drafts of poems include some written in the Warneford Hospital and some that were published in The Listener, The Spectator or broadcast. The letters span 1955-6: from JRR Tolkein (on receiving A Way of Looking 17 Jan. 1956); Kathleen Raine, congratulating her on the Somerset Maughan Prize); Vita Sackville West (‘how much I like your poems’ (22 Feb. 1956); and Philip Larkin who stated ‘The great thing in your poems, if I may say so, is the way in which, as I think of it, you give your words room to breathe as nobody else does. … It used to be called “ear”’.’ (4 Feb. 1956).
University of Hull
Brynmore Jones Library.
Papers of Philip Larkin.
  • Elizabeth Jennings. [DPL(2)] and [DX/73].
  • Poems for ‘Wave’, Nos 1 and 7. DP/158/1 (June 1983)
  • Letter to Philip Larkin (DX/73/4c).

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BBC Archives, Reading
Correspondence 1949-62.
It is well worth spending a day here to read her correspondence about her involvement with Woman’s hour and other programmes.
National Sound Archive, London.
  • Recordings of Readings by Elizabeth Jennings 1961-83.
  • Recordings of Talks by Elizabeth Jennings 1957-64.

London: Royal Society of Literature
2 Letters from Jennings, 1960-1.
Base resource: The Location Register of Twentieth Century English Literary Manuscripts and Letters.
Online version



Boston College, Massachusetts
Elizabeth Jennings papers, 1970-1993. (MS2007-18).
The collection includes: personal papers, notebooks, manuscript poems and a draft of her unpublished autobiography; correspondence with Alec Guinness; 1914-2000.; Priscilla Tolkien; 1929. For a fuller description see https://www.bc.edu/libraries/newsletter/2012fall/02Jennings.html
Washington University at St Louis
WTU00061. Special Collections: Elizabeth Jennings Papers (MS68-970).
Correspondence, manuscripts and reviews 1959-89. Notebooks of first drafts of poems 1972-83. Draft of autobiography ‘The Inward War’ 1970-88. Personal notebooks 1954-81. The Finding Aid offers exceptionally detailed and useful introductions to each box.

The notebooks include fascinating personal ‘Reflections’ and ‘Pensées’, many of which can be recognized in Jennings’ correspondence and poems but are expressed at their most raw and succinct. There are notebooks on her travels, notably her 1957 tour of Rome, Assisi, Florence and Paris and a ‘Roman Notebook’, 1958. Writings from the Warneford Hospital include two unusual prose poems dated 1968, ‘After Amnesia’ and ‘Prayer for a Sick Poet’. They are confessionals that transgress formalising metres and rhyme. Literary drafts range from commentary on Marianne Moore, Michelangelo, John Betjeman, Jung, Traherne and Derek Walcott to an Introductions for a BBC European Service and Notes for a talk at the PBS.
New York Public Library
Berg Collection MSS Elizabeth Jennings.
‘This is a synthetic collection consisting of manuscripts, correspondence, and an undated notebook. The manuscripts consist of poems, translations of poems, and an essay. The correspondence consists of letters from the author, dating from [1961] to 1967, to Leonard Clark, Terence Tiller, and others.’
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University of Delaware
Special Collections.
Papers 1940-77, bulking at 1958-69, consist of correspondence, about 150 titled poems and 17 poetry notebooks. 8 of the notebooks (dark blue hard covers, folio sized) dating 27 April-22 June 1977, contain 486 manuscript poems. Notable also are an unpublished biography of Gerard Manley Hopkins and an early draft of her autobiography. Poetry Notebooks 1981-1992 (MS71-1644)
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Pennsylvania State University
Papers.
Papers relating to the years 1952-72 include thirty manuscript poems, a portfolio labelled "Dante" which may be a translation of his poems, biographical clippings on Jennings and correspondence with Oscar Mellor, publisher of the Fantasy Press.
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University of Tulsa
Department of Special Collections and University Archives, McFarlin Library. Elizabeth Jennings manuscripts. Read more...
Introduction to the Inventory: The Elizabeth Jennings manuscripts, housed in four legal-sized document boxes, comprise 39 notebooks and loose sheets of autograph working drafts of approximately 2,225 poems, many with autograph revisions, written between 1973 and 1992. The poems were said to be unpublished at the time of acquisition and cover a wide range of topics including artists, composers, and writers. The manuscripts are arranged chronologically by the date provided by Elizabeth Jennings. They are also indexed alphabetically by title.
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Georgetown University Library, Washington
Special Collections.
This has the most revised and typed edition of Jennings’ autobiography, although earlier versions exist in St Louis and Delaware. Correspondence and manuscript poems 1969-89, bulk at 1957-89. Notable correspondents include many contemporary poets and writers, such as John Betjeman, Charles Causley, Cecil Day-Lewis, Margaret Drabble, Roy Fuller, Laurie Lee, Peter Levi, Ruth Pitter, Anne Ridler, A.L. Rowse, Stephen Spender, Anthony Thwaite, and John Wain. Internationally acclaimed actors Sir John Gielgud and Alec Guinness are also represented by lengthy correspondence. Of special interest is the extensive correspondence from Dame Veronica Wedgewood, 1969 -1971.
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