The Forrest Reid Collection comprises typescript and manuscript drafts of longer works, short stories and poems, as well as proof copies, bibliographies and catalogues. The collection of correspondence is particularly strong. The central theme throughout much of his works was boyhood and youth, and Reid himself noted his limitations of scope by pondering that some "arrested development" prevented him from fully realizing a world of only adult relationships. Nevertheless, his novels were rich in themes of dream landscapes, animism, paganism, magical transformation, loss and class decline.
The Forrest Reid Collection comprises typescript and manuscript drafts of longer works, short stories and poems, as well as proof copies, bibliographies and catalogues. The collection of correspondence is particularly strong and is further enhanced by items such as Christmas cards, postcards, photographs, newspaper cuttings and scrapbooks; There are also numerous holdings of ephemera, manuscript transcriptions, draft speeches, notebooks (story notes and travelogue notes); Reid was also a keen collector of prints and illustrations, and there are thousands of these organised within the collection.
Reid was apprenticed to the tea trade as a young man, but eventually went up to Cambridge. This did not lead to a blossoming of his literary talent as Reid was to describe his time at university as a "rather blank interlude". He returned to Belfast, and during the next forty years lived privately and unostentatiously in the east of the city. Reid corresponded widely however, and his novels established for him a reputation as a notable prose stylist.
The central theme throughout much of his works was boyhood and youth, and Reid himself noted his limitations of scope by pondering that some "arrested development" prevented him from fully realizing a world of only adult relationships. Nevertheless, his novels were rich in themes of dream landscapes, animism, paganism, magical transformation, loss and class decline.
Reid also wrote highly regarded critical studies of Yeats and Walter de la Mare, an examination of nineteenth century art, and many essays and short stories. His collection of original illustrations of English woodcut artists of the 1860s is held at the Ashmolean Museum. Many of his original manuscripts are also held in the Belfast, Ulster and Irish Studies of the Belfast Central Library.
There are over 5000 items of correspondence which include many from literary figures such as E M Forster, Walter de la Mare, W B Yeats, AE (George Russell), Joe Ackerly, George Buchanan, Padriac Colum, J S Crone, Basil de Selincourt, Stewart March Ellis, St. John Ervine, Stephen Gilbert, George Faber, Edward Arnold, Louis Golding, Robert Greacen, Lawrence Houseman, John Irvine, Rosamund Jacob, Patrick Kavanagh, Geoffrey Keynes, C S Lewis, Robert Lynd, Francois Mauriac, A N Monkhouse, Edward Muir, Herbert Moore Pim, V S Pritchett, Marc Andre Raffalovich, Richard Ellis Roberts, Michael Sadlier, Hugh Shearman, John Hampson Simpson, John Sparrow, James Stephens, AJA Symonds and Rutherford Mayne.
One of the most significant parts of the Forrest Reid papers is his correspondence with the novelist Edward Morgan Forster (1879-1970). The correspondence covers a period of thirty-four and a half years (31st January 1912 – 18th August 1946) and includes 217 letters and cards from E.M. Forster.
The collection offers valuable insights into the literary world of early to mid twentieth century Britain and Ireland, and correspondence with authors, editors and critics is filled with reflections on their work, moral and social questions, the creative process, and literary gossip.
The mechanics of, and inspiration behind, the act of creative writing is well demonstrated within Reid’s papers. The process of writing is often sharply debated in letters, and creative processes are further illuminated in the heavily revised and densely annotated drafts of works, both published and incomplete. Notebooks and transcriptions evidence the research, memory aids, and layered construction inherent in crafting prose, as notes and jottings are added to skeletal plotlines and chapter headings.
58 Boxes and 6 volumes measuring approx 16 linear metres
Reid Collecting listing
See also Kris Brown ‘An Exhibition on Forrest Reid and Stephen Gilbert’. Belfast. QUB. 2008.
Queen's University Belfast maintains legal ownership and control of the Collection. Consult with staff on matters of copyright and publication.
The Forrest Reid Collection was purchased by Queen's University Belfast from the Gilbert family in 2007. The novelist, Stephen Gilbert, and Forrest Reid were friends. The bulk of the materials in this Collection were in the care of the Gilbert family after Reid's death in 1947.
The Collection was purchased by Queen's University Belfast in 2007, relevant materials will be added when the opportunity arises.