Research Resources

Our staff and students have the opportunity to work with a fantastic array of primary material, hosted by Special Collections.

Twentieth Century and Contemporary

The library holds several named collections of particular interest to Twentieth-Century and Contemporary Writing researchers, including:

  • the Joe Orton Collection, providing a unique insight into Orton's work, which challenged dominant ideas about gender and sexuality prior to the legalisation of homosexuality in 1967. Known as 'the Oscar Wilde of welfare state gentility', Orton is best known for his outrageously funny plays, which employ farce to challenge established notions of 'good taste' and celebrate social anarchy;
  • the Laura Riding Jackson Letters, including correspondence with George S. Fraser and Mrs G. S. Fraser;
  • the Sue Townsend Archives, which contains the original material of the books, stage plays, screenplays and radio writing relating to the creation of one of the most famous adolescents in English literature, Adrian Mole;
  • the Challis Collection, which includes Beat poetry, novels, letters and manuscripts;
  • the David Campton papers which include early drafts of his screenplays as well as a wide selection of unpublished work.

Romantics and Victorians

There are holdings of note on the works of Charles Dickens, and specialist collections such as the Higson Collection of early children’s works, as well as an outstanding collection of nineteenth-century periodicals, reviews and magazines.

Early Modern

Special Collections houses several named collections relevant to Renaissance and Early Modern researchers, including incunabula relating to biblical publication, scholastic philosophy and classical literature; the Fairclough Collection of seventeenth-century portrait prints and political illustrations; several manuscripts relating to non-conformist worship and devotion; a large pamphlet collection featuring many relating to the Reformation and English Civil War; and the Robjohns Collection of early printed bibles.

Old English and Late Medieval

The library holds numerous items of interest to the medievalist including:

  • several thirteenth-century Latin bibles;
  • several Books of Hours of Franco-Flemish and Italian origin;
  • a fifteenth-century copy of the Vita Christi of Ludolf of Saxony;
  • a twelfth-century copy of Gilbert de la Porrée’s Commentary on the Psalms;
  • a notable fifteenth-century copy of the Brut Chronicle.