The literary archive covers over 50 years of Hewitt's prolific and varied writing career. It contains notebooks of poems composed between 1926 and 1984, over 3,500 of which are unpublished. The manuscript material includes drafts of autobiography, radio scripts from the 1940's and notes for his book about the rhyming weavers. There are also short stories, verse plays and reviews of books and art exhibitions. The prose includes an unpublished autobiographical work " A North Light". The collection reflects Hewitt's enormous activity and influence on the development of art and literature in Northern Ireland, and provides an exciting resource for those engaged in research into our cultural heritage. There are a number of rare titles in the collection, which includes a particularly strong focus on Anglo-Irish literature. Over seventy Irish publishers have been identified, ranging from private printing presses in nineteenth century Belfast through to the better known Dublin publishers like M H Gill, James Duffy and the Talbot Press. More than forty percent of the monographs are works by, or about individual authors and these include over two hundred personally signed copies by well-known poets like Seamus Heaney, John Montague, Derek Mahon and Michael Longley.
The library has a particularly strong emphasis on Anglo-Irish literature and is an invaluable resource for the academic community. It includes rare volumes from the "weaver-poets" of the eighteenth century and journals which Hewitt edited, as well as those to which he contributed. The Library also preserves first editions of virtually every collection of Irish poetry since the 1950's. It is one of the most significant Collections in the UK and Ireland, outside Oxbridge, Trinity College, Dublin and the National Library of Ireland, of modern and contemporary Irish literature and of the manuscript holdings in that literature. It is a unique resource for researchers particularly in Irish poetry but also in modern Irish culture, history and folklore.
The Collection comprises the personal library of John Hewitt and a collection of his manuscripts. Library consists of almost 5000 books and periodicals. The manuscript collection includes 47 notebooks of published and unpublished poetry covering 1926-1986, poems, prose and drama and a small amount of correspondence. There are also thirty radio scripts, broadcast from the 1940's to the 1970's on BBC Northern Ireland
The collection comprises the personal library and literary archive of the poet John Hewitt which he bequeathed to the University of Ulster.