University of Texas at Austin

Francis Berry:

An Inventory of His Papers at the Harry Ransom Center

Creator Berry, Francis, 1915-2006
Title Francis Berry Papers
Dates: 1928-1961
Extent 3 boxes (1.26 linear feet), 1 galley folder
Abstract Poet and professor of literature Francis Berry published a large number of poetry collections as well as a respectable amount of literary criticism. The papers document Berry's development as a poet from his earliest poetic endeavors to his mature creations, as well as the evolution of his critical ideas.
Call Number: Manuscript Collection MS-0360
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:

Administrative Information

Acquisition Purchase, 1964 (R2039)
Processed by Robert Kendrick, 1994; updated by Kelsey Handler, 2012

Harry Ransom Center, The University of Texas at Austin

Biographical Sketch

Francis Berry, poet and professor of literature, was born March 23, 1915, in Ipoh, Malaya. He graduated with a B.A. from the University of London in 1947; upon completion of his undergraduate studies, Berry obtained a lectureship in English at the University of Sheffield and was promoted to a professorship by 1960, the year he received his M.A. from the University of Exeter. From 1970 to 1980, he taught at Royal Holloway College of the University of London from which he retired professor emeritus. Various visiting professorships took him to Carleton College in Minnesota, to the University of the West Indies in Jamaica, to India and to Japan as a British Council Lecturer, to the University of Glasgow, to the Australian National University in Canberra, and to the University of Malawi. He was elected Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 1968.
Francis Berry's poetic works include Gospel of Fire (1933), Snake in the Moon (1936), The Iron Christ (1938), Fall of a Tower and Other Poems (1943), Murdock and Other Poems (1947), The Galloping Centaur (1952), Morant Bay and Other Poems (1961), Ghosts of Greenland (1966), and From the Red Fort (1984). Berry has also written radio plays such as Illnesses and Ghosts at the West Settlement (1965), The Sirens (1966), The Near Singing Dome (1971; revised as The Singing Dome, published 1984), and Eyre Remembers (1982), and has published one novel, I Tell of Greenland (1977). His Collected Poems was published in 1994.
Berry's critical works include Herbert Read (1953; revised 1961), Poets' Grammar: Person, Time and Mood in Poetry (1958), Poetry and the Physical Voice (1962), and The Shakespeare Inset: Word and Picture (1965; revised 1971). Two of his lectures, John Masefield: The Narrative Poet (1968) and Thoughts on Poetic Time (1972), have also been published. He edited issue 22 of Essays and Studies in 1969 and contributed essays and reviews to various publications throughout his career.


Contemporary Poets. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1985.
Hobsbaum, Philip. Tradition and Experiment in English Poetry. London: Macmillan, 1979.
Knight, G. Wilson. Francis Berry. In Neglected Powers: Essays on Nineteenth and Twentieth Century Literature. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1971.

Scope and Contents

The papers of Francis Berry, circa 1928-1961, document Berry's development as a poet from his earliest poetic endeavors to his mature creations and also document his concerns as a critic of poetry. The papers are divided into two series: Poetry and Drama, circa 1928-circa 1957; and Critical Works, circa 1953-1961. The Poetry series consists of manuscripts of Berry's poetry and verse drama, including some unpublished work, arranged alphabetically by title. There are holograph and typed drafts of published poems, most signed and some dated by the author, from Snake in the Moon, Fall of a Tower, The Galloping Centaur, and Morant Bay and Other Poems as well as fragments of The Iron Christ. Berry's unpublished poems are also well represented. There are proof copies of Snake in the Moon and Murdock and Other Poems. Berry's published and unpublished verse drama is represented by the following works: Beauty and the Beast, Conversation Piece, The Death of Beowulf, Hans and Gretchen, The Harpies, and The Sleeping Beauty.
Also included in this series is correspondence consisting of three letters of reference for Berry and two letters from Berry to G. Wilson Knight.
The Critical Works series consists of manuscripts of Berry's critical assessments of specific writers and technical studies of the mechanics of poetic creation. There are holograph and typed notes and drafts of most of Berry's major academic work, including Herbert Read, Poetry and the Physical Voice, Poets' Grammar: Person, Time and Mood in Poetry, and Shelley and the Future Tense, an article published in Orpheus. This series is also arranged alphabetically by title.

Related Material

Additional Francis Berry materials may be found in the following HRC collections: Edmund Charles Blunden, Richard Church, John Lehmann, Edward Lucie-Smith, Christopher Darlington Morley, Dame Edith Sitwell, and Henry Treece.

Index Terms


English poetry--20th century
English poetry--History and criticism
Read, Herbert Edward, Sir, 1893-1968

Document Types

First drafts
Galley proofs

Francis Berry Papers--Folder List