Harry Ransom CenterThe University of Texas at Austin

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Robert Nye:

An Inventory of His Papers at the Harry Ransom Center

Creator: Nye, Robert, 1939-
Title: Robert Nye Papers
Dates: 1911, 1959-1975
Extent: 13 document boxes (5.46 linear feet), 1 oversize folder (osf), 1 galley folder (gf)
Abstract: The papers of this English author include drafts of his poetry, essays, short stories, libretti, plays, novels, and children's literature, as well as extensive files of his work as a critic and editor of poetry and fiction.
RLIN Record ID: TXRC97-A21
Call Number: Manuscript Collection MS-3067
Language English.
Access

Open for research. Part or all of this collection is housed off-site and may require up to three business days notice for access in the Ransom Center’s Reading and Viewing Room. Please contact the Center before requesting this material: reference@hrc.utexas.edu




Acquisition

Purchases, 1962-1978 (R1018, R1665, R1734, R2124, R3756, R5871, R6079, R6832, R7102, R7293, R8228)

Processed by

M. DeMeule, C. Filippi, S. Karjala, 1994; S. Mielke, 1997; updated by Heather Bollinger, 2012

Repository:

Harry Ransom Center, University of Texas at Austin


Robert Nye was born in London, England, on March 15, 1939, into a working class family. A precocious student, he attended Southend High School and had published poems in the London Magazine by the age of sixteen. He left school in 1955 and did not pursue additional formal study. Between 1955 and 1961, he worked at a variety of jobs: newspaper reporter, milkman, laborer in a market garden, and orderly in a sanitarium.

Nye married his first wife, Judith Pratt, in 1959. In 1961, they moved to a remote cottage in North Wales where Nye devoted himself full-time to writing. There he developed an interest in the Welsh and Celtic legends reflected later in his fiction and children's literature. His first literary success, Juvenilia I (1961), was a collection of short poems. A second volume, Juvenilia II (1963), won the Eric Gregory Award. To supplement his writing income in the early 1960s, Nye began to review poetry for British literary journals and newspapers. He became the poetry editor for The Scotsman in 1967, and was named poetry critic of The Times in 1971, while also contributing reviews to The Guardian.

Nye expanded his literary genres to include children's literature with the publication of Taliesin and March Has Horse Ears in 1966. Nye published his first novel, Doubtfire, in 1967. That same year he divorced his first wife, then in 1968 married Aileen Campbell. The two moved to Edinburgh, Scotland, where they lived until 1977.

Nye's next publication after Doubtfire was a return to children's literature, Beehunter: Adventures of Beowulf (1968). In 1970, he published another children's book, Wishing Gold, and received the James Kennaway Memorial Award for his collection of short stories, Tales I Told My Mother (1969).

During the early 1970s Nye assumed two new roles: playwright and editor. He wrote numerous plays for BBC radio including “A Bloody Stupit Hole” (1970), “Reynolds, Reynolds” (1971), and “A Doubtful Fire” (1972), and wrote an unpublished libretto for Harrison Birtwistle's opera, Kronia (1970). He continued to write poetry, publishing Darker Ends (1969) and Divisions on a Ground (1976), and edited A Choice of Sir Walter Raleigh's Verse (1972). It was also during this time that Nye wrote several articles and essays on the life of Thomas Chatterton.

Nye held the position of writer in residence at the University of Edinburgh, 1976-1977, during which time he received the Guardian fiction prize, followed by the Hawthornden Prize for his novel Falstaff. He currently resides in Cork, Ireland, writing and maintaining his position as poetry critic for the Scotsman.

Nye's manuscripts are located at three institutions: The University of Texas at Austin; Colgate University in Hamilton, New York; and the National Library of Scotland, Edinburgh. The materials at the University of Texas were acquired in eleven purchases from 1962 to 1978.

Additional information about Robert Nye and his works may be found in The Dictionary of Literary Biography, Volume 14, and British Novelists Since 1960 (Gale, 1983).


Notebooks, typescripts, holograph manuscripts, book proofs, galley proofs, published materials, book reviews, and correspondence document Robert Nye's creative and critical writing from 1959 through 1975. The papers are organized into two series: I. Works, 1959-1975, undated (12 boxes); and II. Correspondence, 1959-1975, undated (2 boxes).

The Works series consists largely of holograph notes and corrected typescripts. The Creative Works subseries (8 boxes) comprises the largest portion of the Works series. It consists of notebooks, original, carbon copy and photostat manuscripts, book proofs, and galley proofs. These materials provide detailed evidence of the creation and refinement of Nye's work in poetry, essays, short stories, libretti, play, novels, and children's literature. The majority of these materials date from the late 1960s to the early 1970s.

Nye's extensive work as a poetry and fiction critic and editor is reflected in the subseries Critical Works (3.5 boxes). It contains reviews intended for publication in The Guardian, The Scotsman, The Times, and The Tribune. His lengthy, abandoned effort to publish an edition of Thomas Chatterton's poetry is documented by workbooks, original, carbon, and photostat manuscripts, published works, and reviews. The Chatterton materials also contain the oldest item in Nye's papers, a 1911 publication of Chatterton's poetry, heavily annotated by Nye. Another editing endeavor of Nye's, A Choice of Sir Walter Raleigh's Verse, is represented by several manuscripts, a script, and a book proof.

The Correspondence series is particularly illuminating of Nye's literary activities and his relationship with contemporary authors, critics, editors, and publishers. The bulk, consisting of correspondence between Nye and Derek Stanford (1 box), details both authors' creative and private lives. Nye's letters frequently mention works in progress and his feelings about his craft. A smaller subseries of incoming correspondence contains letters from various literary persona. A list of correspondents appears at the end of this inventory.

Because of Nye's sparing use of paper it is common to find fragments of many works on a single sheet. In addition, a single manuscript may incorporate papers of varying types and sizes.


Correspondents

Forster, E. M. (Edward Morgan), 1879-1970

Graves, Robert, 1895-

Mackenzie, Compton, Sir, 1883-1972

McLaren, Moray

Mott, Michael, 1930-

Stanford, Derek

Subjects

Authors, English--20th century

Poetry, English

Document Types

First drafts

Galley proofs

Juvenilia

Librettos

Scripts