Following extensive re-cataloguing, the complete Kevin Crossley-Holland Archive is now available for research.

Collected over several decades, the archive is a unique testament to a wide-ranging literary career. Crossley-Holland is a well-known poet, best-selling children’s author and translator. His association with the University of Leeds began in 1969 when he was appointed Gregory Fellow in Poetry.

Notes by Crossley-Holland on his first impressions of Leeds. Image credit Leeds University Library.

At over 160 boxes, the collection sheds light on the wide range of Crossley-Holland’s literary output. His work covers many styles and genres, and the archive reflects this, as includes series on poetry, writing for children, travel writing, broadcast work and memoirs, amongst many others.

The archive spans 70 years of work and includes material from his childhood. Of particular interest is a register for the museum he curated in the family shed from 1951 to 1954.  All types of literary material are exceptionally well documented in his archive.

One of Crossley-Holland’s earliest published translations was of Beowulf from the Anglo-Saxon, with illustrations by Charles Keeping, published in 1968.  His drafts for this text show inspiration drawn from mythology, history, languages and adventure stories and prefigure much of his later work.  Today he is perhaps best known for the Arthurian trilogy that began with ‘The Seeing Stone’.

Crossley-Holland’s archive is an increasingly rare example of completely paper-based writing. As a result of this, his creative process can be seen throughout the collection. Series often begin with a first manuscript draft, which is then typed up with manuscript revisions added later. This process may be repeated several times before a text is completed. Files may also include evidence of substantial research and related correspondence. This method gives a clear picture of Crossley-Holland’s working practices and sheds light on his unique creative strategy. Files for his novel ‘Gatty’s Tale‘ are a particularly strong example of this process.

The Kevin Crossley-Holland archive is an excellent resource for researchers. It will also form the basis of an exhibition to be held in the Stanley & Audrey Burton Gallery Education Room in 2020.

The archive catalogue is now available online. Material from the collection can be consulted in Special Collections research centre.