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We are delighted to announce the acquisition of the papers of poet and broadcaster Alison Brackenbury.

Courtesy of Alison Brackenbury

Alison has thus far published 9 collections of poetry with Carcanet Press, the first in 1981 entitled Dreams of Power, and the most recent, Skies, in 2016. She was awarded both an Eric Gregory Award and a Cholmondeley Award by the Society of Authors, and her work and work as a reviewer have appeared in numerous poetry publications. She works extensively in radio, writing features and contributing to programmes on the arts.

Born in Lincolnshire and descended from a dynasty of prize-winning shepherds, she won a scholarship to Oxford where she took a First in English. Since then, she has lived in Gloucestershire and combines writing with a variety of jobs and interests, including 23 years as a manual worker and bookkeeper for her husband’s family metal finishing firm.[1]

The papers donated to the Rylands include a wealth of published and unpublished poems, radio plays, essays, novels and children’s stories, alongside correspondence relating to works and other writers.  There are also recordings, which feature Alison’s radio appearances and plays, and photographs accompanied by meticulous contextual notes.

We’re accustomed to receiving new collections in varying states of organisation. Some collections are methodically curated by donors, while others are presented with no discernible system of arrangement. It can often take a good deal of appraisal and detective work to identify, classify and arrange a collection, especially if there is a lack of contextual information. It was therefore wonderful to find that Alison’s papers were of the labelled and dated variety.

Papers from the Alison Brackenbury Collection

The Alison Brackenbury papers will be of great significance for scholars of poetry and literary criticism. The collection is a valuable addition to the wealth of collections that have found a permanent home at the Rylands owing to our longstanding relationship with Carcanet Press (whose ever growing archive has been held here since the 1970s). These collections include the papers of poets Elizabeth Jennings, Elaine Feinstein, Chris McCully, Adam Johnson and Grevel Lindop, amongst many others.

Another enjoyable part of working with writers is observing first-hand the inspiration for creative works, in this case, a poem by Alison, on the donation of her papers to the Rylands.

Packing the Papers by Alison Brackenbury

It is my hope that the creative arts collections at the Rylands will continue to inspire, directly or indirectly, new works of art in all kinds of forms.

[1] Alison Brackenbury, Carcanet Press