John Wyndham Parkes Lucas Beynon Harris (1903-1969) is one of the most important and widely read British writers of science fiction. Wyndham began publishing science fiction in the 1930s but it was only after the Second World War, following refinements to his writing style and subject matter, that he gained critical and popular acclaim. Wyndham achieved particular success with The Day of the Triffids (1951), The Kraken Wakes (1953) (also known as Out of the Deeps), The Chrysalids (1955) and The Midwich Cuckoos (1957) (also known as Village of the Damned). These carefully crafted stories instantly captured the imagination of the public worldwide and have since become classics of science fiction. Wyndham's stylish explorations of the social effects of sudden change not only reflect the anxieties of post-War Britain in particular but also possess wider and enduring relevance and popularity.
The John Wyndham Archive is the author's Estate Collection. It contains a large number of holograph manuscripts and corrected typescripts of his novels and short stories (including several unpublished and incomplete works), non-fiction articles and scripts for radio, screen and stage plays. John Wyndham was a very private man and, wishing to be judged solely on his work, instructed that his personal papers be destroyed. However, the Archive does contain large quantities of letters to and from various editors and publishers, some fan mail and a collection of over 350 letters to his life-long partner Grace Wilson that reveal Wyndham's thoughts and experiences during the Second World War. There are also some taped conversations between Wyndham and his brother, Vivian Beynon Harris.
The John Wyndham Archive was acquired by The University of Liverpool in May 1998 with assistance from the Heritage Lottery Fund, together with the support of The Friends of The University of Liverpool, Sir Arthur C. Clarke, Iain M. Banks and many writers and fans of science fiction.
The archive is fully listed and an online Finding Aid including further biographical information is available for browsing or searching.
All material in the John Wyndham Archive is available to scholars 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.
Reproduction and Licensing rules are available upon request.
The Return of the Triffids exhibition, held at The University of Liverpool Art Gallery in 1999, provides further details of items in the John Wyndham Archive. The archive of Vivian Beynon Harris, John Wyndham's brother, is also held in The University of Liverpool's Special Collections and Archives Department. We also have a small number of copies of articles about John Wyndham and his work in our Offprints Collection. Search our SF Catalogue for Wyndham's published works and related critical material in our collections. The Penguin Collection held at The University of Bristol contains some archival material relating to the publication of Wyndham's books. A bibliography of Wyndham's works can be found on the Fantastic Fiction site, whilst an interesting collection of Wyndham book covers can be viewed online courtesy of Richard Humphreys.