The Library holds several collections of personal papers relating to some of its more prominent literary alumni. The most extensive of these is the Robert Graves Collection, but there are also collections relating to the classical scholar and poet A.E. Housman, the poet Philip Larkin, and the classicist and translator J.B. Leishman. Another notable collection consists of the papers from the comic and author Spike Milligan.
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Together with the working library, the papers of the poet and author Robert Graves, most famous for his First World War memoir Goodbye to All That and his historical novel set in Julio-Claudian Rome, I Claudius, were bequeathed to the St John’s College by his widow, Beryl, in 2003.

Find out more about this collection here.

Associated with John Sparrow’s collection of books relating to the poet and classicist A.E. Housman is a small selection of Housman’s correspondence, some photographs and Sparrow’s own correspondence and papers pertaining to his collecting and his work with John Carter to compile Housman’s biography.

Catalogue: The collection is not yet catalogued.

Although most of the papers of the poet Philip Larkin were deposited at the University Library in Hull, St John’s College does have a small collection of letters and postcards from Larkin to his publisher and friend Charles Monteith.

Catalogue: Records describing the papers of Philip Larkin are available at Archives Hub

St John’s College holds several boxes of personal papers relating to the Oxford scholar James Blair Leishman.

Catalogue: The collection is not yet catalogued.

A small but significant collection of papers from the writer, poet, and comedian Spike Milligan has been given to the College, including illustrations and typescripts of many of his books, such as the war memoirs and some of his books for children. Milligan was a close friend of Robert Graves and the collection includes their correspondence.

Catalogue: Records describing the papers of Spike Milligan are available at Archives Hub.

The College also holds the other collections of letters and papers of varying extent and scope. For historical reasons, they have been added to the general manuscript collection:

  • Jane Austen (1775-1817): MS 279 contains five letters written by the novelist herself to her niece Jane-Anna-Elizabeth Austen (1793-1872), later Anna Austen Lefroy, and one written by Jane’s father George Austen. A catalogue record of the manuscript is available at Archives Hub. A digital edition of the letters with a full digitization is available at Taylor Editions.
  • John Rose (1754-1821): MS 345 contains 130 letters from the clergyman John Rose, which give a lively description of contemporary society. There is no catalogue description available yet.
  • Josiah Tucker (1713-1799): MS 294 contains correspondences relating to the political thinker John Tucker. Catalogue records of the manuscript's contents are available at Archives Hub.