manuscripts by Oscar Wilde and Evelyn Waugh
are some of the literary treasures in a new
collection presented to the University of
Leeds Library by Fay and Geoffrey Elliott.
The collection also contains Kim Philbys
passport, giving a fascinating insight into
the movements of the notorious Cold War spy.
The extremely valuable collection of around
200 rare books, manuscripts and letters includes
items relating to the artist Aubrey Beardsley,
novelists Graham Greene and Frederick Rolfe,
and former poet laureate John Betjeman.
of our books and manuscripts are British and
we felt they should have a permanent home
in the UK, said Geoffrey Elliott. But
we also wanted the collection to be part of
a broad academic centre of excellence, ideally
outside London, where it could be used in
active support of teaching and research.
stunning collection Fay (seated)
and Geoffrey Elliott, with Jan Wilkinson and
below, some of the treasures
Many of the collections treasures have
not yet been studied in close detail. Kim
Philbys passport offers a different
account of his movements than was published
in official accounts. The writing in the manuscript
of Evelyn Waughs Vile Bodies shows physical
manifestations of the stress he was under
during the breakup of his marriage.
Geoffrey Elliott was impressed with the expertise
and support provided by Russian archivist,
Richard Davies, while carrying out research
at the University for his book on the history
of the Joint Services School for Linguists
where he trained during the 1950s: Secret
classrooms an untold story of the Cold
War. Leeds became the obvious choice for
the collections home.
When librarian Chris Sheppard received the
letter from Fay Elliott, asking if the Library
would be interested in the collection, he
couldnt believe his eyes: I didnt
sleep for days, just thinking about it.
University librarian Jan Wilkinson said: This
is the most important gift since the library
was started with a donation from the Brotherton
family in the 1930s.
more information, see the press