This article is taken from Stand 227, 18(3) September - November 2020.

Rachel Bower Unofficial Archives in the 1950s and 1960s: Leeds, Ibadan, Hull, and Zaria

Unofficial Archives in the 1950s and 1960s: Leeds, Ibadan, Hull and Zaria

There was a fascinating and extensive network of links in the 1950s and 1960s between poets working in the northern English cities of Leeds and Hull and the Nigerian cities of Ibadan and Zaria. Over the last two years I have been researching some of these relations, tracking down letters, manuscripts, and photographs in a range of archives, including the extensive Tony Harrison Archive, Geoffrey Hill Archive, Wole Soyinka Archive, Stand Archive, Martin Banham Archive and The London Magazine Archive in Special Collections at the Brotherton Library (University of Leeds). There are also valuable materials in the Hull History Centre (especially the Howard Sergeant Papers), The British Library, the University of Ibadan Library, and the Rose Library (Emory University).

The giants of Nigerian literature, Chinua Achebe and Wole Soyinka, were in Leeds at this time, where they worked with some of the most celebrated British poets of the twentieth century, including Tony Harrison and Geoffrey Hill, who both later travelled and worked in West Africa. My book on this research (forthcoming with Routledge), will offer an account of the way in which the extensive transnational and translocal networks of this period shaped the work of a key generation of poets in both countries, and exposes a previously unknown history of cross-fertilisation between writers of very different cultures.

Although these archives are extremely rich, they also contain significant ...
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