Peter Robinson Archive image
Peter Robinson Archive, page from notebook for ‘Dry Bones that Dream’ (BC MS 20c Robinson/02/08).  Image credit Leeds University Library.

Literary Archivist, Sarah Prescott, talks about the growth of our Crime Fiction Collection.

Special Collections has recently started to collect the archives of writers of Crime Fiction. Our fascinating collection includes the papers of 3 writers who have made significant impacts on crime writing.  All have varying connections to Leeds.

Peter Robinson a Leeds alumni who now lives in Canada, Robinson is known for his crime novels set in Yorkshire featuring Inspector Alan Banks. His latest novel ‘Sleeping in the Ground’, the 24th Banks novel, was published in July.

Sophie Hannah  now lives in Cambridge but lived in West Yorkshire whilst her husband worked at the University of Leeds. Hannah is a poet and internationally bestselling writer of crime fiction. She has twice been commissioned by the Agatha Christie estate to write an original story featuring Hercule Poirot.

Frances Brody  is a Leeds native.  Brody (who also writes as Frances McNeil) has written extensively for theatre and radio. She is best known for a series of crime novels set in 1920s Yorkshire featuring Kate Shackleton.

It is interesting to compare these archives with each other. The archives show a wide variety of writing practices, from rough notes scrawled on the back of dental appointment cards, to notebooks carefully filled with research on a particular subject.

The collections all show the care and attention each writer pays to developing and keeping track of plots. This is particularly relevant to crime writing, where ensuring that alibis are believable, using red herrings and planting subtle clues are key to a successful work.

These 3 literary archives were catalogued over the summer by staff in Special Collections and are now available for use in the Reading Room.