- 1842 - 2019 (Creation)
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The establishment of the collection was first mooted in October 1994 though discussions between Janet Trotter (Director, Cheltenham and Gloucester College of Higher Education), Peter Easy (Assistant Director, Academic, Cheltenham and Gloucester College of Higher Education) Linda Hart (Chair of the Friends of the Dymock Poets) and Jeff Cooper (grandson of Lascelles Abercrombie).
On 21 February 1995 Jeff Cooper deposited books, manuscripts and recordings, primarily in relation to Lascelles Abercrombie, as the foundation of the collection. Since then material has been deposited, donated and bought from a wide variety of sources including Michael Gibson (son of Wilfrid Gibson), Gervase Farjeon and Anne Harvey (nephew and niece of Eleanor Farjeon), Lesley Lee Francis (granddaughter of Robert Frost), Alan Hancox, the Edward Thomas Fellowship and the Friends of the Dymock Poets.
The first meeting of the Archive and Study Centre Management Committee was held on 1 May 1995 and the collection was officially opened as "The Dymock Poets Archive and Study Centre" by Lesley Lee Francis, granddaughter of Robert Frost, at Park Campus on 16 June 1995. Seven "Occasional Papers" were published on the poets, their lives and works from 1996-1999. On 22 March 1999 the collection moved to its current location at Francis Close Hall, officially opened by Sean Street.
Conferences and study days have been held on the collection on 14 October 2000, 12 July 2003, 12 June 2004, 10 June 2006 and 6-7 June 2015. In 2014 the name of the collection was changed to the "Dymock Poets Special Collection". The collection continues to be used for teaching at the University, including on the MA Creative and Critical Writing module HM7105 "Creative Commissions and Proposals" where students wrote and produced the play "Voices from the Forest", centred on the poets.
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On the north-west borders of Gloucestershire, in the years immediately prior to the outbreak of the First World War, a literary community was formed which came to represent a significant development in the modern poetic tradition. By August 1914, the poet and playwright Lascelles Abercrombie, Wilfrid Gibson, and the American poet Robert Frost had all taken up residence in and around the village of Dymock. Inspired by the beauty of their surroundings and encouraged by a succession of visitors, including Rupert Brooke, John Drinkwater, Edward Thomas and Eleanor Farjeon, a new literary currency was established during that final summer before the outbreak of war.
Their writings represented a movement away from the prevailing literary idiom, regarded by many as rhetorically ornate and emotionally restricted. Instead the Dymock Poets sought inspiration in natural settings and everyday experiences. In this, and their desire for a more direct, authentic register, their work can be located within the traditions of Wordsworth and the principles set out in Lyrical Ballads.
It was a productive time for all concerned, with four issues of a periodical, New Numbers, being written and printed as a true cottage industry. This period was also to see the emergence of Edward Thomas as a gifted and prolific writer of verse and to lead to Robert Frost’s formation of a new poetic philosophy.
This brief idyll was to prove short lived. Within three years both Brooke and Thomas were dead, Frost had returned to North America, and Abercrombie, Drinkwater and Gibson were involved in war work. Their writings, however, continue to form an important literary legacy to this day.
The institution has actively sought to collect material from various sources that centres on the Dymock Poets (Edward Thomas, Robert Frost, Wilfrid Gibson, Lascelles Abercrombie, John Drinkwater, Rupert Brooke) and related authors such as Eleanor Farjeon. Items are donated or deposited by a wide range of people, including some of the families of the poets. Material has also been deposited by both The Edward Thomas Fellowship and Friends of the Dymock Poets regarding the administration of both societies.
The collection is comprised of original paper-based documents, monographs, journals, articles, photographic material and multi-media. Secondary-source material is catalogued on the University’s library catalogue https://aleph.glos.ac.uk/F?RN=951325868.