Contents and Arrangement Expanded View

Collection Overview

Kermode, Frank, 1919-2010.
Sir Frank Kermode Papers
Manuscripts Division
Permanent URL:
45 boxes
Storage Note:
Firestone Library (mss): Boxes 1-44; B-000055


The collection represents the entire extant archive of Sir Frank Kermode, a distinguished British literary critic, and includes writings (reviews, essays, lectures, radio broadcasts), correspondence, photographs, and printed material, as well as material relating to public controversy about the funding for Encounter, which Kermode co-edited.

Collection Description & Creator Information


The collection consists of critical writings, reviews, essays, lectures, transcripts, radio broadcast transcripts, correspondence, photographs, and printed material of Kermode, representing his entire extant archive. The collection includes original typescripts and drafts of Kermode's published work, as well as transcripts of lectures and radio broadcasts. There are many uncollected essays dating from 1969 to 2003. An extensive circle of major correspondents from the academic and literary world, such as Al Alvarez, William Empson, William Golding, Kenneth Koch, Muriel Spark, Stephen and Natasha Spender, and Allen Tate, throw light on the literature and critical thought of that era. Included is substantial material documenting the circumstances leading to the resignation of Kermode and Spender from the board of Encounter in 1967, after it was revealed that the magazine was funded by the CIA.


The collection is arranged into the following series:

Collection Creator Biography:

Kermode, Frank, 1919-2010.

Born in Douglas, Isle of Man, Sir Frank Kermode was one of the most distinguished literary critics of his time. He was Lord Northcliffe Professor of Modern English Literature at University College, London (1967-1974) when, under his leadership, the English department offered a series of graduate seminars which introduced contemporary French critical theory to Britain for the first time. Kermode was also King Edward Professor of English Literature at Cambridge University (1974-1982), teacher at numerous universities including Harvard and Columbia, and author or editor of more than fifty volumes. He was a Fellow of the British Academy, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, an Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and an Officier de l'Ordre des Arts et des Sciences. Kermode was co-editor of the magazine Encounter with Melvin J. Lasky from around 1958 to 1967, when he resigned after learning of the covert U.S. Central Intelligence Agency funding of the magazine. Encounter (London, England) was a controversial literary magazine, founded in 1953 by poet Stephen Spender and early neo-conservative author Irving Kristol. It celebrated its greatest years in terms of readership and influence under Melvin J. Lasky, who succeeded Kristol in 1958 and who would serve as the main editor until the magazine closed its doors in 1990. In 1966-1967 it was revealed that the C.I.A. had subsidized the magazine for more than ten years through the Congress for Cultural Freedom, and that Melvin Lasky, Kermode's co-editor, was the CIA agent. Spender also resigned from Encounter in 1967, following the events of the scandal.

Best known of his writings are his studies of Shakespeare and D. H. Lawrence (1973), his edition of The Oxford Anthology of English Literature (2 vols., 1973), the popular Fontana Modern Masters series, and his provocative studies The Sense of an Ending (1967), The Genesis of Secrecy (1979), and The Art of Telling (1983). Kermode's memoir, Not Entitled was published in 1995 and his selection of essays, Pieces of My Mind, in 2003. Kermode served in the Royal Navy during World War II, for a total of six years, much of it in Iceland. He was knighted in 1991. Kermode died on August 17, 2010, aged 90, in Cambridge, England.

Collection History


Purchased from Bertram Rota in 2006 (AM 2007-28). Additions purchased in January 2009 (AM 2009-77), January 2011 (AM 2011-66), and 2015 (AM 2016-18).


No appraisal information is available.

Processing Information

This collection was processed by Dina Britain on December 20, 2006. Finding aid written by Dina Britain on January 11, 2007 and updated by Sylvia Yu in April 2011. Additions were made in June 2009 (AM 2009-77) and April 2011 (AM 2011-66).

Access & Use

Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. No further photoduplication of copies of material in the collection can be made when Princeton University Library does not own the original. Inquiries regarding publishing material from the collection should be directed to RBSC Public Services staff through the Ask Us! form. The library has no information on the status of literary rights in the collection and researchers are responsible for determining any questions of copyright.

Credit this material:

Sir Frank Kermode Papers; Manuscripts Division, Department of Special Collections, Princeton University Library

Permanent URL:
Firestone Library
One Washington Road
Princeton, NJ 08544, USA
(609) 258-3184
Storage Note:
Firestone Library (mss): Boxes 1-44; B-000055