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The Vivian Beynon Harris Archive

Vivian Parkes Lucas Beynon Harris (1906-1987) was the younger brother of the celebrated science fiction writer John Wyndham (Parkes Lucas Beynon Harris). The two brothers were very close all their lives, experiencing an unsettled childhood together following the separation of their parents in 1911, then attending the same boarding school - Bedales, near Petersfield, Hampshire. Vivian Beynon Harris initially pursued a career as an actor, studying at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art from 1925-27 but, under encouragement from his brother, tried writing. Vivian published four novels: Trouble at Hanard (1948), Confusion at Camden Trig (1948), One Thing Constant (1949) and Song for a Siren (1951). Vivian's success seems to have spurred his brother on, as it was at this time that Wyndham revised his style and published The Day of the Triffids, followed by a sequence of novels that were to become enduring classics of science fiction. The two brothers remained in almost daily contact until Wyndham's death in 1969 and it is perhaps Vivian's memoirs of his brother that are his greatest legacy. There is evidence in the archive that Vivian was planning to write a biography of Wyndham. His manuscripts of Jack and me: growing up with John Wyndham and John Wyndham, 1903-1969 are short but provide rare insights into the life of his famous brother. After Wyndham's death, Vivian Beynon Harris became one of the executors of his brother's literary estate until Vivian himself died in 1987.

The Vivian Beynon Harris Archive mainly consists of business papers relating to the John Wyndham Estate. There are albums of press cuttings about John Wyndham's work and copies of articles about the author. Vivian Beynon Harris' own manuscripts, mostly of incomplete and unpublished works, including, most notably, his memoirs of his brother, are also contained in the Archive.

Finding Aid

The archive is fully listed and an online Finding Aid including further biographical information is available for browsing or searching.

Access

All material in the Vivian Beynon Harris Archive is available to researchers for consultation in the University of Liverpool Library's Special Collections and Archives Reading Room by prior arrangement. Please read Using the Collections if you are considering visiting us.

Copyright

Reproduction and Licensing rules are available upon request.

Related material

The Vivian Beynon Harris Archive complements the John Wyndham Archive, also held in The University of Liverpool Library's Special Collections and Archives. Several items from the Vivian Beynon Harris Archive, including the memoir [My Brother,] John Wyndham, 1903-1969 have been published with some editing in Foundation no. 75 (Spring 1999).

Manuscript of Jack and Me: growing up with John Wyndham [VBH: 1/2/11]

An advertisement from The Bookseller for John Wyndham's posthumously published novel, Web [VBH: 2/1/1/4]

Illustration from a Dutch newspaper of a scene from The Day of the Triffids [VBH: 2/1/1/2]

Manuscript of memoir of John Wyndham that Vivian was preparing [VBH: 1/2/1]

An article by John Wyndham discussing 'speculative fantasy' [VBH: 2/1/1/1]