Chaplin (Sid) Papers

Subject strengths: Literature, Social History

The papers of the local writer Sid Chaplin (1916-1986) cover the years 1930-1990 and relate to his writing career and other involvements throughout his life. His work strongly reflected his formative years in the pit villages of County Durham, his time in the coal industry and his other interests, particularly the history and culture of the North-East.

The material comprises typescripts of Chaplin's published and unpublished novels, short stories, poetry, plays and articles, television and radio drama, diaries and notebooks, newspaper cuttings, photographs and correspondence. There are typescripts and publisher's proofs for Chaplin's four full-length novels, as well as for his first publication The Leaping Lad (1946), which was to inspire a younger generation of writers from the industrial north of England who were to emerge in the late 1950s. There is also a range of material relating to the Alan Plater and Alex Glasgow stage musical Close the Coalhouse Door (1968), based on Chaplin's The Thin Seam and other stories, and many examples of the work Chaplin produced as reporter on the National Coal Board magazine Coal.

Among those represented in the correspondence are the BBC, various publishers, and other literary figures known to Chaplin, such as Basil Bunting, Norman Nicholson and Alan Plater. The collection also includes an oral history interview given by Sid Chaplin's widow, Irene, in 1999.

Finding Aid:

Archival catalogue available via Archives Hub.

Other Resources:

Sid Chaplin's typewriter was featured in the Festival of the North East's History of the North East in 100 Objects and is on display on Level 2 of the Robinson Library.

An exhibition to compliment this collection is available to view here.

Material from this collection was used in our Treasures of the Month feature for August 2014.

Projects, Progress and Updates:

Further additions to the Sid Chaplin Papers were received in 2012 and 2013, which are currently uncatalogued. Please contact for further details.