Lilly Library Manuscript Collections


The Sillitoe mss. III, 1980-2010, consist of the papers of writer Alan Sillitoe, 1928-2010, with emphasis on the last three decades of his career. Sillitoe was born in Nottingham, England and dropped out of school in his early teens, taking on several factory jobs before joining the air training corps at the end of World War II. He became a radio operator after the war and was discharged after being diagnosed with tuberculosis. Sillitoe settled eventually in the Mediterranean area, where a prior interest in English literature was reignited after befriending the poet Robert Graves. Sillitoe's first two novels, Saturday Night and Sunday Morning (1958) and The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner and Other Stories (1959), were highly successful and influential depictions of the working class from his youth that touched a nerve with the burgeoning counterculture. Both novels were adapted into motion pictures.

Although primarily known from the era as one of British literature's "Angry Young Men" (a label he rejected), Sillitoe went on to forge a long and versatile career as a novelist, short story writer, playwright, poet, memoirist, and author of travelogues. His later works, represented in this collection, include The Saxon Shore Way (1983), Nottinghamshire (1987), Leading the Blind (1994), Alligator Playground (1997), The German Numbers Woman (1999), Broken Chariot (1998), Flight of Arrows (2003), Gadfly in Russia (2007), and an unpublished novel, Moggerhanger. Also featured in the collection are correspondence, speeches, articles, and reviews.

The collection is organized into the following series: I. Correspondence; II. Writings; III. Personal Records; IV. Miscellaneous; V. Newspaper Clippings; VI. Audio/Visual Materials.

Correspondents include: Martin Amis, Tom Courtenay, Margaret Drabble, Eugene Dubnov, Albert Finney, A.M. Holmes, Patrick McCabe, China Mieville, Amos Oz, Mary Sackville-West, Brian Sillitoe, Michael Sillitoe, Ruth Fainlight-Sillitoe, W. D. Snodgrass, Peter Straus.

Writings include drafts and proofs of Sillitoe's novels, stories, and poems. Personal records include invitations and flyers, business records, and Morse writings. Miscellaneous materials include photographs, literary magazines, and various printed materials. Newspaper Clippings include interviews with Sillitoe and reviews of his work. Audio/Visual Materials include video cassettes of Sillitoe's graduation speeches and appearances on BBC television shows.

An inventory is available.

Acquired: 2011

Collection size: 30,000 items

Related manuscripts: Sillitoe mss., Sillitoe mss. II

For more information about this collection and any related materials contact the Public Services Department, Lilly Library, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN 47405. Call (812) 855-2452 or send an email using our Ask a Question form.