• Title
    Ian Fletcher Collection
  • Reference
    MS 4619
  • Production date
  • Creator
  • Creator History
    Ian Fletcher was born in 1920 in a nursing home in Streatham, the only child of John Archibald Fletcher (1887?-1968), a farmer and retired army major, and Katherine Margaret Richardson (1888-1979), and grew up in Catford, South London. His family had strong Scottish antecedents and for a while as a young man he spelled his name Iain as a gesture to Scottish nationalism. Fletcher was educated at Dulwich College. At some point in his youth his parents separated and Fletcher lived with his mother, a woman of forceful character, first in Catford and later in Shepherd?s Bush. Money was short and Fletcher left school at the age of 15 in order to earn a living. He worked as a librarian in Lewisham Public Library and at the same time he set out to write poetry and read widely. He haunted second hand bookshops and collected a library of works by lesser known and neglected writers of the 1890s. In 1939 he met John Gawsworth, another bibliophile and enthusiast for neglected writers, and remained a loyal friend to him throughout his life. Fletcher began to study for an external London University degree but the war intervened and he joined the army. He served in the Middle East, and latterly in Cairo, from 1941-1946. Cairo was something of a literary centre at this time and Fletcher came into contact with numerous other poets who also became friends, including Bernard Spencer, G S Fraser and Ruth Speirs. Fletcher always retained an interest in making sure that the work of Second World War poets was not underestimated or forgotten, supporting the Salamander Oasis Trust in their production of anthologies and putting on an exhibition, based on his donated collection, in Reading University Library in 1981. Back in London after the war Fletcher returned to librarianship and also took an active part in the London literary scene, following up old friendships and making new ones. He helped to edit two short-lived literary magazines, Colonnade and Nine, and published his first book of poetry in 1947. He continued to research the last part of the nineteenth century and in 1953 wrote a book on Lionel Johnson. This was brought to the attention of Professor D J Gordon of Reading University who offered Fletcher a lecturership on the strength of it in spite of his lack of a degree. Fletcher had a distinguished career at Reading, gaining a PhD, his only degree, with a thesis on the history of the little magazine, in 1965 and progressing to a professorship in 1978. He was a generous benefactor of both the library and its fledgling archive, particularly in the areas of his research interests and of contemporary writing. Outside work he found personal happiness through his 1965 marriage and family life and in captaining an amateur cricket team. Fletcher made frequent trips to America as a visiting lecturer and in 1982, after taking early retirement from Reading, he took up a post at Arizona State University. His last years were clouded by ill-health although he remained mentally alert to the end, dying in hospital in Birmingham in 1988.
  • Scope and Content
    Ian Fletcher papers covering works by him and colleagues primarily during the Second World War, but also includes material from before and after this period. The collection is broken down in five series as follows: Papers relating to works by Ian Fletcher: covering unpublished material by Fletcher, draft works, and correspondence relating to these. Papers relating to Ian Fletcher’s work as editor: contains correspondence between the editors at ‘Colonnade’ and ‘Nine’, of which Fletcher was one. Papers relating to the ‘Salamander Oasis Trust’: these include correspondence and poems from both named and anonymous sources which were presumably sent to Fletcher for submission to the 'Salamander Oasis Trust' for which he was editor, they are mostly photocopies. Also includes photocopies of periodicals from Cairo. Ian Fletcher’s correspondence: includes poems and is mostly related to literary works. Personal papers and photographs relating to Ian Fletcher: correspondence primarily to members of Fletcher family such as his wife, Loraine Fletcher. Includes photographs of Ian Fletcher and University of Reading colleagues. Please note that as Ian Fletcher's professional interests overlap, and as such there may also be overlap within the material across these five sections.
  • Extent
    8 boxes
  • Language
  • Level of description
  • Content person
  • System of arrangment
    The collection is split into five series, one of which contains three sub-series, as shown below: MS 4619/1 - Papers relating to works by Ian Fletcher MS 4619/2 - Papers relating to Ian Fletcher's work as editor MS 4619/3 - Papers relating to 'Salamander Oasis Trust' MS 4619/3/1 - Poems and letters by named individuals MS 4619/3/2 - Poems by anonymous poets MS 4619/3/3 - Literary periodicals from Cairo MS 4619/4 - Ian Fletcher's correspondence MS 4619/5 - Personal papers and photographs relating to Ian Fletcher
  • Related objects
    MS 5509, MS 2638, MS 2638/2, MS 2739, MS 2002