Volumes on a shelf

Papers of E.A. Markham

Who was E.A. Markham?

Born in Harris, Montserrat, 1939, Edward Archibald Markham, or ‘Archie’, moved to England in the 1950s. Best known as an Anglo-Caribbean poet with a particular talent for reading and performance, his published collections of poetry include Crossfire (1972), Human Rites (1984), Living in Disguise (1986), Misapprehensions (1995), and A Rough Climate (2002), which was nominated for the 2002 T.S. Eliot Prize.

Markham also wrote and published plays, short stories and novels. His work is characterised by experimentation with different voices to explore various themes. During the 1970s he wrote under the pseudonyms Paul St Vincent and Sally Goodman, and in later life he created the alter-ego Pewter Stapleton.

He edited several collections of Caribbean writing including Hinterland: Caribbean Poetry from the West Indies and Britain (1979) and The Penguin Book of Caribbean Short Stories (1996). He was editor of various literary publications, most notably Artrage (1980s), Writing Ulster (1988-1991), and Sheffield Thursday (1990s).

He developed a distinguished academic career during which he held several writing fellowships, served as an external examiner for various universities, established the MA in Creative Writing at Sheffield Hallam University, and received a professorship in Creative Writing at Sheffield Hallam University.

What can the collection be used for?

Very little has been written on Markham to date.

The collection offers researchers the opportunity to study a contemporary Anglo-Caribbean writer noted for his unconventional approach to writing and his refusal to conform to established preconceptions, whilst working within the academic mainstream.

It is particularly useful for anyone wishing to get an idea of the main figures active within the sphere of Caribbean writing during the 1970s and 1980s, and can be used to investigate Markhams literary connections and relationships to publishers.

What records will I find in the collection?

The collection represents Markham’s literary work in the period 1971-2005, and consists of literary manuscripts, publications, reviews, correspondence, and other records. It contains an almost complete set of his published work [U DAM/4] and an extensive series of literary drafts [U DAM/2].

Of particular merit are the series of notebooks kept by Markham whilst working as a Media Co-ordinator in Papua New Guinea 1983-1985 [U DAM/1]. These contain details of his time spent in the country as well as various ideas and drafts relating to planned pieces of writing.

A further series of note is Markham’s correspondence which contains files of letters written to him in the context of his literary work [U DAM/5]. This series includes letters received by Markham under his pseudonyms Sally Goodman [U DAM/5/2] and Paul St Vincent [U DAM/5/3].

How do I access the Collection?

The collection is available for anyone to use and has been given the reference number U DAM. The catalogue is structured as follows:

U DAM/1 Notebooks and Diaries
U DAM/2 Drafts
U DAM/3 Proofs
U DAM/4 Publications
U DAM/5 Correspondence
U DAM/6 Promotional Material
U DAM/7 Work Papers
U DAM/8 Ephemera
U DAM/9 Recordings [this material is not available whilst we investigate digitisation options]

Is there any other material relating to Markham?

Further archival material relating to Markham’s involvement with MAAS as editor of Artrage may be held at the CASBAH/Minority Arts Archive. Please contact the University of Warwick for further information.

Various biographical work has been written about Markham including James Proctor, E.A. Markham: Critical Perspectives published on the British Council website in 2008, an obituary by John Thieme in The Independent on 12 Apr 2008, and an obituary by Peter Fraser in The Guardian on 26 Apr 2008. 

Recordings of poetry readings given by Markham can be heard online at the Poetry Archive.