There are over 400 collections of archives and manuscripts in Special Collections

Archives and Manuscripts

We hold the Library's rare and valuable books, archives and manuscripts which are used for learning and research.  These include the richest collection of twentieth-century literary papers by writers associated with the south west of England in any university library. 

They cover all subject areas with major highlights in Twentieth-Century South West Writing, Literature and Visual Culture, Victorian Culture and Imperial Endeavour, Arab and Islamic Studies, and Religious and Parish book collections.

Our materials are used in assessed essays, workshops, seminars, student dissertations and exhibitions. All our holdings can be ordered and consulted in the Ronald Duncan Reading Room. 

The best way to search for our resources is to use the online archive catalogue.

This is fully searchable for more information in individual archives and manuscripts. Enables simple searching on "any text" for names, MS numbers, or keywords. Also has an advanced search screen to narrow and widen search hitlists. 

Some digital collections, mainly relating to Victorian culture and film history are available to view and download for research here.

For help with searching contact Special Collections on libspc@exeter.ac.uk

UK Data Archive is the curator of the largest collection of digital data in Social Sciences and Humanities in the UK

Archives Hub Gateway to archives in UK universities and colleges

Discovery The catalogue of The National Archives 

British Library manuscripts catalogue 

RASCAL (Northern Ireland)  

ANW (Wales)

AIM25 and GASHE (HE archives: London area / Scotland)

Location Register of 20th Century English Literary Manuscripts (literary papers in UK repositories) 

Cecilia Backstage (performing arts)

Artists’ Papers Register (art and design)

NAHSTE (science)

Hospital Records Database (historical medical records)


See also our .pdf guide giving information on literary archives held throughout the region  Location list of Archives

Repositories of Primary Sources (A listing of over 5000 international websites describing holdings of manuscripts, archives, rare books, historical photographs, and other primary sources for the research scholar)

Europeana - Explore Europe's cultural collections 

UNESCO Archives Portal

National Union Catalogue of Manuscript Collections (US and other collections)

Mundus (international resource for missionary history)

‌‌Arvon Foundation archive* (EUL MS 329)  

John Betjeman (Archives and materials from his working library; EUL MSS 117, 240)

Theo Brown  (Personal and Research Papers; EUL MS 105)

Charles Causley (Literary and Personal Papers; EUL MS 50a)

Agatha Christie (Business archive; EUL MS 99)

Jack Clemo (Literary and Personal Papers; EUL MS 68)

Rupert Croft-Cooke (Literary papers; EUL MS 232)

RF Delderfield (Literary papers; EUL MSS 203, 211)

Ronald Duncan (EUL MS 397)

William Golding (EUL MS 429) for information, see here

Ted Hughes (Main collections; EUL MSS 58, 132, 192, 263, 290, 350, 360)

John Jarmain (EUL MS 413)

Daphne du Maurier (EUL MSS 144, 206, 207, 346, 354). Also, research collections and individual items (EUL MSS 301, 307, 346, 341, 359, 363, 400) 

George du Maurier (Main collection; EUL MS 144)

Powys family (handlists available)

A L Rowse (Main collections; EUL MSS 113, 116, 244, 286, 291, 399) 

Lawrence Sail (Literary papers; EUL MS 212)

Flora Thompson (EUL MSS 90, 103)

Henry Williamson and Henry Williamson Society (Literary papers; EUL MS 43. Other main collections EUL MSS 72, 74, 91, 106, 111, 126, 239, 282, 356, 374, 402) 

*Please ask at Special Collections as some papers are restricted.

Please type the name into our  Online archive catalogue for more information. See also below 

We also hold significant collections relating to Printing and Illustration, Drama, History, Theology, Social StudiesAntiquarianismColonial Studies and the Middle East. See our Archives and Rare Books Resources for more information.