||The papers of British writer Iain Sinclair consist of drafts of works, research
material, juvenilia, notebooks, personal and professional correspondence, business
files, financial files, works by others, ephemera, and electronic files. They
document Sinclair’s prolific and diverse career, from running his own press to
wide range of creative output including works of poetry, fiction, non-fiction,
edited anthologies, screenplays, articles, essays, reviews, and radio and television
contributions. The papers are organized into five series: I. Literary Activities,
1882-2009 (bulk 1970-2008), undated; II. Correspondence, 1957-2008, undated; III.
Career and Personal Papers, 1950-2008, undated; IV. Works by Others, 1968-2008,
undated; and V. Printed Materials, 1973-2008, undated.
||The Ransom Center acquired the papers in two separate acquisitions in 2004 and 2008.
Except in a few cases, the material lacked an arrangement or organizational system.
Many items that were not related to each other were grouped into envelopes that
either unlabeled or labeled with only some of their contents, though the labels
often vague, such as "drafts." These items were
separated in order to be filed with their respective project or topic, and the
original envelope, or a photocopy of it, was kept with the item even when the
description on the envelope did not include or was not necessarily indicative
said item. Where an original order was evident, for example the alphabetical files
of correspondence, it was retained. Otherwise, the arrangement outlined here was
determined by the archivist.
||Series I. Literary Activities consists of 55 document boxes, 5 oversize boxes, and
oversize folders of materials associated with Sinclair’s writings and editorial
projects. It is arranged into four subseries: A. Long Works, 1882-2009 (bulk
1970-2009), undated; B. Film and Television, 1967-2007, undated; C. Essays and
Works, circa 1970s-2008, undated; and D. Other Writings, circa 1953-2008, undated.
Works in each of these subseries are arranged in alphabetical order by title except
for the book contributions and reviews which are arranged alphabetically by author,
and the notebooks which are arranged chronologically.
||Subseries A. Long Works consists of Sinclair’s book-length works published between
1970 and 2009. This includes poetry and prose compilations, novels, non-fiction
works, and books edited by Sinclair. Within each title, the material generally
follows the chronological order of literary production, from research and notes
publication proofs. When present, related material such as dust jacket proofs
publicity material follow the drafts. Notebooks that were originally filed with
specific work, or labeled with the title of a specific work, are located with
work. In some cases, handwritten notes are written on letters or empty envelopes,
on the back of discarded typescript pages. When identified, the titles of the
typescript drafts on the versos of pages of notes are indicated in the container
list. Drafts remain arranged in the order in which they arrived at the Ransom
which, especially in the cases of works of poetry, is not necessarily the order
which they appear in their published form. Some works also include extensive
research material especially Downriver (1991), Edge of the Orison (2005), Hackney, That Rose-Red Empire (2009), Landor’s
Tower (2001), Lights Out for the
Territory (1997), and London Orbital
(2002). Numerous interview transcripts are also located with material for Hackney, That Rose-Red Empire. Sinclair’s editorial
projects, Conductors of Chaos (1996) and London: City of Disappearances (2006) also include
individual files for the books’ contributors that consist of correspondence and/or
typescripts of their works.
||Sinclair published some of his early works under his own presses, Albion Village
Press, and later, Hoarse Commerce Press. The works published under Albion Village
Press are Back Garden Poems (1970), The Birth Rug (1973), Groucho
Positive/Groucho Negative (1974), The Kodak
Mantra Diaries (1971), Lud Heat (1975),
Muscat’s Würm (1972), and Suicide Bridge (1979). Works published under Hoarse
Commerce Press are Autistic Poses (1985), Flesh Eggs & Scalp Metal (1983), Fluxions (1983), and Jack Elam’s
Other Eye (1991). Production material for these works, mostly in the
form of paste-ups, is listed in the container list both in this subseries, as
as in Series III. Career and Personal Papers, Subseries A. Business and
||A few early typescripts, as well as a paste-up of Lud
Heat, arrived at the Ransom Center with evidence of mold. The Center’s
Conservation Department has vacuum treated the Lud
Heat paste-up, but mold spores may still be present. For health reasons,
patrons may consider wearing gloves and a dust/mist respirator while handling
material. Other items that contain mold are a typescript of Back Garden Poems, two typescripts from 1973 of The Birth Rug, and a typescript from 1973 of Red
Eye (2013). The typescripts have not been treated and are currently
||Subseries B. Film and Television contains material related to Sinclair’s film and
television projects, including several that are unproduced. Completed projects
include Ah! Sunflower (1967), Asylum (2000), The Cardinal and the
Corpse (1992), and The Falconer (1998).
Film proposals and unproduced films lacking a title are listed by the description
provided by Sinclair which is indicated in single quotes in the container list.
small amount of film related correspondence and notes is included at the end of
subseries. The correspondence includes letters regarding Ah!
Sunflower and rejection letters for film proposals. Included with the
notes is an essay on film written by Sinclair.
||Subseries C. Essays and Short Works is made up of short writings for various
publications, especially London Review of Books and
the Guardian. These are listed alphabetically by
their original title as it appears on Sinclair’s typescripts, though many were
published under alternative titles which are also noted. Occasionally, research
material is also included in the files.
||Subseries D. Other Writings consists of book contributions, early works, lectures
talks, lyrics, notebooks, poetry, reviews, assorted short writings, notes and
fragments, and unsorted electronic files.
||Book contributions include introductions, poems, stories, and essays published in
books by other writers or compilations. Listed alphabetically by the author of
work, they include typescripts and, in some cases, notes, research material, and
proofs of the work.
||Early works consist of early writings and juvenilia. Notebooks from Sinclair’s time
at Cheltenham College and Trinity College in Dublin are also included. The early
writings are primarily drafts of plays and poems, though a film script and an
unfinished novel are also present. Of note in this section is a handwritten
manuscript of Sinclair’s first story written around 1953, The
Mystery of Rashmere Abbey. An essay on Dylan Thomas, for which he was
awarded the Trevelyan Scholarship, is also included.
||The Lectures and Talks section is comprised of drafts of lectures given at various
events. They are listed alphabetically by title. Notes for talks are also included
at the end of this section though some of the events with which they are associated
are not identified.
||The small section of Lyrics consists of typescripts of song lyrics written by
Sinclair, some in collaboration with composer John Harle.
||Sixty-five notebooks spanning from about 1960 to 2007 are included. They are arranged
chronologically and provide perspective into Sinclair’s writing and writing process.
The earlier notebooks from the 1960s to the 1970s primarily contain drafts of
notes, jottings, and occasional doodles. The later notebooks contain notes, lists,
and drafts for various works. The majority of the notebooks are unlabeled; however,
in cases where the title of a specific work contained in the notebook was noted
could be ascertained, that information was included in the description. Of interest
is the "Chatham in Five Hours" notebook located in
folder 53.3. Written in one day, it recounts a five-hour walk through Chatham
undertaken by Sinclair and his wife, Anna, in April 2007 and includes pasted in
||A small poetry section in this subseries consists of some "collage poems" made up of cut up texts, and research material about
poetry. Also present is a folder containing drafts of poems ranging from 1977
1985 that includes some which were published in Autistic
Poses, Flesh Eggs & Scalp Metal, and
||The reviews in this subseries, many of which were written for London Review of Books, are arranged in alphabetical order by the
author of the reviewed work. The titles under which the reviews were published,
well Sinclair’s original titles, are also noted in the container list.
||The Assorted Short Writings section contains short pieces written by Sinclair such
solicited book recommendations and promotional blurbs for works by other
||Notes on various subjects as well as assorted fragments are located at the end of
this subseries and are listed alphabetically by subject. Two folders containing
various typescript fragments and notes at the end of this section also include
portions of Downriver, London
Orbital, Rodinsky’s Room, and notes for
talks. One folder is made up of unidentified notes and fragments.
||A small section at the end of this series is comprised of unsorted electronic files
contained on a Macintosh Performa 460 hard drive (0809008P-001) and two disks
(20080908P-008 through 20080908P-009). The hard drive contains drafts of works,
well as notes and correspondence, from 1995 to 2006. The drafts include Buried at Sea and Objects of
Obscure Desire, as well as the short works Channel Hopping, Deadad, Fallujah London, Funeral Homes
& Small Bright Ornaments, The Monkey’s
Jaw, Primitive London, A City Revised: Purple Clouds & Ladders of Glass,
Rivers & Mounds, and Route Monsters. The hard drive also contains notes and/or promotional
material for Ah! Sunflower; Hackney, That Rose-Red Empire; Kodak Mantra
Diaries; and London: City of
Disappearances. One disk, labeled "Writings
Jan/Oct 05," contains drafts for several essays including Fallujah London, Patrick
Hamilton, Going to the Crossroads, Foot-Foundered, and River
Gods. Also in this disk is material for Buried at
Sea and drafts for the reviews Route
Monsters and First There is a Mountain.
One folder in the disk contains material related to artist Sarah Simblet. The
disk, labeled "Writings 2," contains a large amount
of drafts, digital images, correspondence, notes, and other personal and career
related files. A folder titled "articles" contains
drafts of several essays, reviews, and other short writings. Other folders in
disk contain material for Ah! Sunflower; Buried at Sea; The
Firewall; and London: City of
Disappearances among others. The majority of the files on this disk are
not organized into computer directory folders. Other works represented include
Dining on Stones; Hackney,
That Rose-Red Empire; London Orbital;
Objects of Obscure Desire; and the short works
Big Umbrellas in the Badlands; Diving into Dirt; Empty Streets,
Busy Walls; and Funeral Homes & Small Bright
||Series II. Correspondence contains personal and professional letters. It is
subdivided into three subseries: A. Alphabetical Files, 1963-2008, undated; B.
Chronological Files, 1962-2008, undated; and C. Family, School, and Early
Correspondence, 1957-circa 2000s, undated. The Alphabetical Files and Family,
School, and Early Correspondence reflect the original order in which the
correspondence from the first accession was received. Letters not filed within
categories were arranged chronologically in the Chronological Files. The
correspondence in the second accession of material lacked a filing system and
letters were either interfiled with the Alphabetical files, if a file for that
correspondent was present, or added to the Chronological Files.
||Subseries A. Alphabetical Files consists of personal and professional correspondence
filed alphabetically by sender and reflect Sinclair’s arrangement as received
the first accession of materials. Correspondence received with the second accession
lacked this organization; however, for consistency, letters from senders that
already had an alphabetical file were added to that file, with the exception of
printed out emails included in the email files from 2005 to 2008. Especially well
represented in this subseries are writers Tony Lowes, Michael Moorcock, and Chris
Torrance. Moorcock often sent Sinclair various items in addition to letters
including toys, candy, and ephemera. An item of interest in the correspondence
matchbox containing a petrified lizard carcass (found in container 57.2) sent
Sinclair by Brian Catling who often addressed him as "Muscat." Other notable correspondents include Peter Ackroyd, Martin
Booth, William S. Burroughs, Paul Green, Nicholas Johnson, Douglas Oliver, J.
Prynne, Peter Riley, and Ben Watson (also known as "Out to
||Subseries B. Chronological Files contains correspondence from 1962 to 2008 that was
not separated into alphabetical or topical files. It includes letters related
Albion Village Press, financial and legal correspondence, personal letters,
requests, invitations, and printed ephemera such as newsletters and brochures.
Within each year, the letters are arranged alphabetically by sender. Letters with
unidentified sender or signed with first name only and any empty envelopes are
at the end of the folder. A few outgoing letters are included throughout, especially
in the files from 1999 and later, and these are interfiled with their corresponding
incoming letter, if present, or at the end.
||Interfiled within the chronological files are a small amount of email printouts, but
the bulk of the emails were grouped separately in envelopes. They range from 2005
2008 and are located at the end of the chronological files. These are organized
year and arranged in rough chronological order within each year. Sinclair’s replies
and printed out attachments are sometimes included. Some emails also contain
handwritten notes or replies by Sinclair.
||Other small topical files of correspondence included at the end of this subseries
poetry submissions and requests for readings or other events. Unidentified and
enclosures were grouped by year and are also located at the end of this subseries.
They consist of ephemera, clippings, business cards, and unidentified
||Subseries C. Family, School, and Early Correspondence contains letters that were
grouped but filed separately from the alphabetical files. This includes early
personal correspondence, filed alphabetically under the General section; early
letters regarding employment; letters from Sinclair’s family, including his parents,
wife, and children; rejection letters from the 1960s; and school-related
correspondence from Cheltenham College, Trinity College, and Courtauld Institute
Art. The correspondence in the Trinity College file includes letters and submissions
from the time Sinclair served as editor of the literary magazine, Icarus.
||The bulk of the correspondents are listed in the Index of Correspondents included
this guide except for Christmas cards signed with first names only or unidentified,
and mass emails received from various neighborhood listservs.
||Series III. Career and Personal Papers contains documents and material related to
Sinclair’s businesses, writing career, and contributions to various events and
organizations. It is divided into two subseries: A. Business and Employment,
1969-2003, undated; and B. Other Papers, 1950-2008, undated. The material in this
series is filed in alphabetical order by name or topic.
||Subseries A. Business and Employment contains material related to Sinclair’s presses,
Albion Village Press and Hoarse Commerce Press; his bookselling business, Iain
Sinclair Books; and his time as editor of the Paladin Poetry series.
||The Albion Village Press files make up the bulk of this subseries and consist of
catalogues, correspondence, financial records, reviews, and production material
books published by the press including several paste ups. The works represented
include early works by Sinclair, also listed in Series I. Literary Activities,
Subseries A. Long Works, as well as works by Brian Catling, Tony Lowes, J. H.
Prynne, Peter Riley, and Chris Torrance. Several of the paste-ups arrived at the
Ransom Center with evidence of mold. The Center’s Conservation Department has
treated these, but mold spores may still be present. For health reasons, patrons
consider wearing gloves and a dust/mist respirator while handling this material.
affected paste-ups are Catling’s Vorticegarden
(1974), Prynne’s A Night Square (1973), Sinclair’s
Lud Heat (1975), and Torrance’s The Magic Door (1975).
||Material related to Hoarse Commerce Press consists of book paste-ups for works by
Sinclair, and one paste-up for Penniless Politics
(1991) by Douglas Oliver.
||Business cards, correspondence, and financial records for Sinclair’s bookselling
business, Iain Sinclair Books, is included in this subseries. The orders found
are primarily for Oliver’s Penniless Politics, though
a small amount of orders for other works are also in the file. A large, but
incomplete, series of book catalogues and catalogue paste-ups are also present.
||Sinclair served as editor of the Paladin Poetry series, Re/Active Anthologies, in
early 1990s and material related to that editorship is included here. It consists
drafts and correspondence from poets Allen Fisher, Bill Griffiths, Barry MacSweeney,
and Chris Torrance, as well as correspondence with the publisher of the series,
Grafton Books, which later merged with HarperCollins. The Grafton
Books/HarperCollins files also include letters regarding Downriver; White Chappell, Scarlet
Tracings; and Flesh Eggs and Scalp
||Subseries B. Other Papers is primarily made up of material related to Sinclair’s
writing career, including financial and legal documents, as well as material from
his various event, exhibition, and radio and television contributions. A small
amount of articles and interviews are also included in this subseries, as well
photographs documenting Sinclair’s honorary degree from Brunel University in 2007.
The materials are in alphabetical order by topic.
||The Events and Exhibitions section makes up the bulk of this subseries and consists
of programs and promotional material for conferences, festivals, and exhibitions
with which Sinclair was involved. Some files also include correspondence and notes.
It is arranged alphabetically by event name.
||Financial and Legal documents in this subseries includes contracts and files related
to royalties and income from different sources, including the BBC. Material from
Sinclair’s agent, MBA Literary Agents, is also filed here. Personal financial
consist of bills, receipts, statements, invoices, and check stub books.
||Subjects represented in the Subject Files and Collected Materials section are
primarily individuals, though a collection of clippings on the moon landing and
assassination of Bobby Kennedy are also included. The individuals represented
subject files include historical figures as well as Sinclair collaborators. Among
them are Marc Atkins, William Hope Hodgson, John Cowper Powys, Sarah Simblet,
Trevor Story, and Peter Whitehead. Material that was grouped together but lacking
unifying theme or topic was kept together and is filed at the end of this section.
The grouping does not necessarily indicate the material was collected together
specific purpose, and some files include unidentified notes by Sinclair.
||The Television and Radio section in this subseries contains material related to
Sinclair’s contributions to various television and radio broadcasts, especially
the BBC. The files include research material, notes, scripts, correspondence,
||Series IV. Works by Others consists of typescripts and proofs of works written by
others, arranged alphabetically by author. A small amount of these works are about
Sinclair and those are listed at the beginning of the series. They include an
unpublished essay by Kathy Acker, several extracts of Robert Bond’s PhD thesis,
an essay by Simon Perril. The bulk of the series is made up of works that are
about Sinclair and were sent to him by authors and publishers. Some of the writers
represented are Brian Catling, Stewart Home, Michael Moorcock, Douglas Oliver,
Perril, Chris Petit, Jeremy Reed, David Seabrook, Ben Watson, and Tony White.
||Series V. Printed Materials is subdivided into four subseries: A. Catalogues,
1977-2005, undated; B. Chapbooks and Publications, 1973-2003, undated; C.
Newsletters and Serials, 1973-2008, undated; and D. Ephemera, circa 1970s-2000s.
catalogues, newsletters and serials, and ephemera are arranged alphabetically
name or title, while the chapbooks and publications are arranged alphabetically
||Subseries A. Catalogues contains catalogues from various booksellers, publishers,
small presses. The publishers’ catalogues that contain books by Sinclair are noted
in parentheses, however, some of the bookseller and small press catalogues also
include his works and/or information on Albion Village Press or Iain Sinclair
||Subseries B. Chapbooks and Publications includes works by various writers including
Simon Perril, Nicholas Royle, and Barry Tebb.
||Subseries C. Newsletters and Serials consists of periodical issues, some of which
contain essays or excerpts by Sinclair or reviews of his books, noted in parentheses
in the container list. Of note is a copy of issue number 4 of Joint from about late 1969 to early 1970s, which includes several early
short poems by Sinclair. Of the newsletters, the Association of Little Presses
Newsletter is especially well represented and goes back to the first issue from
1973. Other newsletters that include several issues are PALPI (Poetry and Little
Press Information) and Poetry Now Newsletter.
||Subseries D. Ephemera contains a large amount of ephemera collected by Sinclair
including brochures, invitations, flyers, programs, and promotional material.
divided into ephemera related to art and theatre, and ephemera related to book
publishing and periodicals. Ephemera in this subseries does not include items
events or exhibitions with which Sinclair was a participant or contributor. The
arrangement is alphabetical by the name of the organization or business.