This article is taken from Stand 228, 18(4) December 2020 - February 2021.

Sarah Prescott Les Yeux d’Elsa by Louis Aragon, August 1943, Keith Douglas Archive

The Keith Douglas archive in Leeds University Library’s Special Collections is one of two major collections of Douglas’s manuscripts and effects. The majority of his literary manuscripts, letters, and the original draft of his memoir Alamein to Zem Zem are at the British Library.1 Special Collections holds most of the other surviving material, including artwork and photographs, books, memorabilia, and some letters and manuscripts.

Douglas had no direct connection to Leeds. The collection is here largely due to the work of Desmond Graham, his biographer. Graham studied English Literature at the University of Leeds under G. Wilson Knight and Geoffrey Hill. He followed Tony Harrison as the editor of Poetry & Audience from 1960–1962, and returned to Leeds to complete a thesis on Douglas in 1969.2 Working with David Masson, the University Librarian, he organised an exhibition of Douglas’s work in the Brotherton Room of the Library in 1974. The collection was acquired from Marie Douglas the following year. As Masson noted at the time, the collection is not strictly literary.3

Photo of Keith Douglas

Although it contains manuscript drafts of several poems and letters written to his friend Hamo Sassoon, the bulk of the collection is formed of Douglas’s artwork, photographs, and juvenilia, as well as magazines and journals owned by the poet. The collection also includes all that remains of Douglas’s collection of books: 80 volumes kept virtually intact by his mother in the 30 years ...
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