This article is taken from Stand 214, 15(2) August - October 2017.

Sarah Prescott The Geoffrey Hill Archive

Photograph of Geoffrey Hill as a young boy
The Geoffrey Hill literary archive is one of the treasures of Leeds University Library’s Special Collections. This near-complete record of Hill’s work covers his creative output from the 1940s up to the 2007 collection A Treatise of Civil Power.

Hill’s archive is remarkable not only for its range, but for the detail and evidential value of the material it contains. Nearly 70 notebooks show the minutiae of the research and drafting behind his poetry. A single poem could be revised many times over several years (and notebooks), before taking on its final form. Other parts of the archive document his teaching work at the Universities of Leeds, Cambridge and Boston. Detailed correspondence with publishers, universities, colleagues, friends and associates also provides valuable insight into his life and work.
The image shown on the right is from an often-overlooked series in the archive comprising photographic portraits of Geoffrey Hill (BC MS 20c Hill/8/3), and including professional and amateur photographs taken throughout his life. This childhood photograph, presumably taken in the garden of his parents’ house in Bromsgrove, is particularly evocative as an individual item. When seen as part of the larger archive, of a lifetime’s range of portraits, or notebooks with drafts of poems drawing on his childhood experience, its context serves as evidence of a life and work.

The Geoffrey Hill archive is widely used, with researchers from all ...
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