Literary Archive

In recognition of Newnham’s strong literary heritage, the College established a Literary Archive in 2011. Rare books, letters, drafts of published work, memoirs and photographs have all been donated to Newnham. The collection forms a link between the writers and the College and it allows us to display the material to inspire current students and encourage an interest in writing.

Inspiration for the literary archive came from Virginia Woolf who, although not a student at Newnham, visited the College at the invitation of the Newnham Arts Society in 1928. The talk Woolf gave on women and fiction at Newnham, along with one given at Girton College, was to become ‘A Room of One’s Own’, a text which continues to inspire women writers today.

Some of Newnham’s earliest students, including the late-Victorian poet and novelist Amy Judith Levy, went on to become writers.  Newnham has continued this tradition and the College has been home to some of the best female writers of the twentieth and twentieth-first century.

Writers today

Newnham writers publishing today include: novelists AS Byatt, Margaret Drabble, Salley Vickers, Ali Smith, Patricia Duncker, Sarah Dunant and Jenn Ashworth; poets Gillian Allnutt and Wendy Mulford; biographer Claire Tomalin; screenwriter Emma Thompson; children’s authors Mary Hoffman and Caroline Lawrence; publisher Nicola Beauman, and writers and broadcasters Germaine Greer, Lisa Jardine, Joan Bakewell  and Julia Neuberger.


February 2011 – Literary Archive Launch

March 2013 – Women and the Novel

March 2015 – Newnham and Poetry