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O'Brien (Sean) Archive

Subject strengths: Literature, English Literature, Poetry

Sean O'Brien was born on 19 December 1952 in London, and is a British poet, critic and playwright. He grew up in Hull, and was educated at Selwyn College, University of Cambridge. 

Sean O'Brien's book of essays on contemporary poetry, The Deregulated Muse (Bloodaxe), was published in 1998, as was his anthology The Firebox: Poetry in Britain and Ireland after 1945(Picador). Cousin Coat: Selected Poems 1976–2001 (Picador) was published in 2002. Sean O'Brien's new verse version of Dante's Inferno was published by Picador in October 2006. His six collections of poetry to date have all won awards, including the Eric Gregory Award (1979), the Somerset Maugham Award (1984), the Cholmondeley Award (1988), the Forward Poetry Prize (2001 and 2007) and the T. S. Eliot Prize (2007). In 2007 he won the Northern Rock Foundation Writer's Award, Forward Prize for Best Collection and the T. S. Eliot Prize for The Drowned Book (Picador, 2007). This was the first time a poet had been awarded the Forward and the Eliot prizes in the same year. In 2006, he was appointed Professor of Creative Writing at Newcastle University, and was previously Professor of Poetry at Sheffield Hallam University. He is a Vice-President of the Poetry Society. He was co-founder of the literary magazine The Printer's Devil and contributes reviews to newspapers and magazines including The Sunday Times and The Times Literary Supplement and is a regular broadcaster on radio. His writing for television includes "Cousin Coat", a poem-film in Wordworks (Tyne Tees Television, 1991); "Cantona", a poem-film in On the Line (BBC2, 1994); Strong Language, a 45-minute poem-film (Channel 4, 1997) and The Poet Who Left the Page, a profile of Simon Armitage (BBC4, 2002). Other significant work includes a radio adaptation for BBC Radio 4 of We by Yevgeny Zamyatin. 

Sean O’Brien’s archive consists of manuscript and typescript drafts of O'Brien's published and unpublished work, as well as articles and press cuttings relating to his work. It also includes O'Brien's personal notebooks from 1970 onwards, correspondence from and to O'Brien in both a personal and professional context, and miscellenous material relating to his cultural roles and activities including jobs, residencies and fellowships.

Collection Name and Collection Reference Code:

Collection Name: O'Brien (Sean) Archive

Archive Ref Code: GB186/OBR

Date Range of Material

1960 - 2016

Type of Material

The personal archive of Sean O'Brien

Size of Collection

20 Linear Metres of Shelving

How To Order Items From This Collection

Please use the finding aid below to search through a list of the individual items we have within this collection.

If you find an item you would like to consult in the Special Collections reading room, simply make a note of the reference number and title of the item(s) you are interested in (for example GB186/OBR Mixed manuscript and typescript of poems from The Frighteners plus other unpublished poems from the period 1982 - 1986).

You can then place your order by linking to our Request Form

Finding Aid 

Archival catalogue available via the Archives Hub.

Scanning and Photocopy Service

If you are unable to visit our reading room, we also have a scanning and photocopying service.

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