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'Against the Grain: exploring the Martin Bell archive'

Special Collections in collaboration with LAHRI
Thursday 18 January 2024, 2-4pm
Bedford Room, Special Collections.

Join us to celebrate the launch of the online catalogue of the Martin Bell papers held in Special Collections.

The archive at Leeds is the single largest collection of Bell’s manuscripts and correspondence.   Manuscripts offer unprecedented insight into Bell’s later years, and the wealth of correspondence charts the trajectory of his life in Leeds. Throughout the collection, the disorder of Bell’s life is evident, as is the tragedy of his struggle with alcoholism.  Amidst this chaos, though, the intricacies and sharpness of his thinking, and the insight of his poetry, are instantly identifiable. Files also include correspondence with luminaries such as Philip Larkin, Peter Porter, Peter Redgrove, Philip Hobsbaum and George Szirtes.

The collection was bequeathed to Special Collections in 2019, following the death of Christine McCausland, Bell’s former partner. McCausland was a tireless champion of his work, and was instrumental in the posthumous publication of his translations of A la Mystérieuse / Les Ténèbres (The Mysterious Woman and The Darknesses) by the French poet, Robert Desnos in 2018. She also provided assistance to Peter Porter for Complete Poems (edited by Porter and published by Bloodaxe Books) in 1988. Her bequest included a substantial group of letters and literary manuscripts written by Bell, and presumably bequeathed to her following his death in 1978.

The event will give attendees an opportunity to explore the collection itself in more detail, and hear from people who knew Bell, and those engaged in research with his work.

To sign up to this event, please email Hilary at LAHRI -

Places will be allocated on a first come first served basis. Numbers are restricted due to the room size but we will do out best to accommodate you.