Geoffrey Atkinson Collection

History of the Collection

In 1969, Geoff Atkinson, then a Lecturer in the English Department at UNE, came into possession of some original letters by British and American writers to A T (later Sir Arthur) Quiller-Couch ("Q") (1863–1944) and William Archer, journalist and theatre critic (1856–1924).

The letters to Quiller-Couch seem to have been written for three main reasons: friendships he made as a young man; in relation to his position as a critic; and his work as an anthologist. The letters include those from famous literary figures including Thomas Hardy, W B Yeats, George Moore, Henry James, Joseph Conrad, Rupert Brooke, and A E George Russell.

Geoff Atkinson donated the letters to the Library in 1995.

Geoff Atkinson published some of the letters in journals such as Thomas Hardy Year Book, Review of English Studies, Ariel, Etudes Anglaises, and Notes and Queries. In addition, he displayed the letters and delivered papers at conferences. In these articles he provided carefully researched commentaries. The articles show fascinating aspects of a literary life. These include Quiller-Couch's comparison of George Moore's Esther Waters to Thomas Hardy's Tess of the D'Urbervilles, his persistence in getting permissions for the best contemporary poets for his anthologies, and his early recognition of Irish writers like Yeats, Russell and Katharine Hinkson.

The collection contains the letters (either handwritten originals or photocopies) arranged in folders named by writer.

Categories of items

Most letters are to Quiller-Couch. The ones in the Pinero folder are to William Archer.

The Collection consists of the following categories of material:

  1. Transcriptions of the letters in Geoffrey Atkinson's handwriting (not usually included in the main files).
  2. Drafts and/or offprints or photocopies of the articles he published, incorporating, and commenting on, the letters.
  3. Correspondence between Geoffrey Atkinson and holders of the copyright of the letters, and with journal editors.
  4. Photocopies of reviews by Quiller-Couch in The Speaker, and of other sources, relevant to Geoffrey Atkinson's articles on the letters.
  5. Cards of printed explanations, or photos, from the displays Geoffrey Atkinson mounted of the letters. (Not included in the main files.)
  6. Newspaper clippings of reviews of plays on in London while Geoffrey Atkinson was on study leave. (Not included in the main files.)
  7. Personal letters of Geoffrey Atkinson's. (Not included in the main files.)
  8. A draft of Geoffrey Atkinson's application for a senior lectureship here, referring to his acquisition of the letters and proposed publication. (Not included in the main files.)
  9. Working notes by Geoffrey Atkinson and a research assistant.
  10. Some of Quiller-Couch's lectures (on Shakespeare, Joan of Arc and other subjects) in draft or typescript.

Searching the Collection

There is an online index to the Collection. This index is based on correspondents' surnames.

Access to the Collection

The collection is located in the New England Collection Room on Level 1 of Dixson Library.

For information on access to the Collection, see the Policy on Special Collections Access.