Heppenstall, Rayner, 1911-1981

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(John) Rayner Heppenstall (1911-1981), the novelist, poet, critic, BBC producer, and criminal historian, was born in Lockwood, Huddersfield, on 27 July 1911 and educated at Huddersfield College and Leeds University, where he graduated in Modern Languages in 1932, and obtained a Diploma in Education in 1933. After a brief period teaching in Dagenham, he moved to London to start a career as a freelance writer and critic. Here he met many other writers and wrote most of his published poetry before the outbreak of the Second World War. After war service in Yorkshire and Northern Ireland, he joined the BBC as a features writer and drama producer, mainly for the Third Programme. Most of his novels were written during this period. In 1967 he became a freelance writer again and moved with his wife, Margaret, to Deal, Kent in 1974. Here he translated from French, wrote further novels, and developed an interest in criminal history. He died on 23 May 1981. His journal, which he had kept for many years, was edited after his death by Jonathan Goodman and published as The Master Eccentric in 1986.

From the guide to the Literary manuscripts, journals, press cuttings, and correspondence of Rayner Heppenstall, 1933-1987, (Leeds University Library)

Rayner Heppenstall was an author and radio producer, perhaps best known as a novelist. Born in Yorkshire and educated at the Universities of Leeds and Strasbourg, Heppenstall worked as a freelance writer, producing novels, poetry, and nonfiction, including criticism. He was known for his unconventional style, and his eccentric creativity contributed to the divided critical reception of his works. He had a long career with the British Broadcasting Corporation, writing and producing radio features, and, later, drama. He maintained a close friendship with George Orwell, and wrote of Orwell and other literary friendships in his memoir, Four Absentees.

From the description of Rayner Heppenstall correspondence with F.J. Warburg and list of poems, 1945. (Pennsylvania State University Libraries). WorldCat record id: 123906080

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
creatorOf Heppenstall, Rayner, 1911-1981. Rayner Heppenstall correspondence with F.J. Warburg and list of poems, 1945. Pennsylvania State University Libraries
creatorOf Heppenstall, Rayner, 1911-1981. Letter to Muriel Spark. London, Eng. 1948 Apr. 15. University of Iowa Libraries
referencedIn B.S. Johnson Archive British Library: Western Manuscripts
referencedIn Manuscripts and proofs of New Directions books, 1937-1997. Houghton Library
referencedIn Morris Tyler family collection of John James Audubon, 1697-1982, 1820-1855 Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library
referencedIn Ursula Roberts, Incoming correspondence, ca. 1910-1960 Stanford University. Department of Special Collections and University Archives
referencedIn New Directions Publishing records Houghton Library
referencedIn Sitwell, Edith, 1887-1964. Miscellaneous manuscripts, 1919-1945, n.d. University of Pennsylvania Library
referencedIn Oscar Williams papers concerning The war poets, 1944-1945. Houghton Library
referencedIn T. S. Eliot Collection TXRC07-A6., 1905, 1917-1979 Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center
creatorOf Heppenstall, Rayner, 1911-1981. Literary manuscripts, journals, press cuttings, and correspondence of Rayner Heppenstall. Brotherton Library, University of Leeds
referencedIn Read, Herbert Edward, Sir, 1893-1968. Sir Herbert Edward Read fonds. [1918-1965]. University of Victoria Libraries, UVic
creatorOf Literary manuscripts, journals, press cuttings, and correspondence of Rayner Heppenstall, 1933-1987 GB 206 Leeds University Library
referencedIn Papers of Robert Graves: Correspondence (arranged by correspondent), c1909 to 2004 St John's College, Oxford
referencedIn New Directions Publishing records Houghton Library
creatorOf Eliot, T. S. (Thomas Stearns), 1888-1965. T.S. Eliot Collection, 1905, 1917-1979. Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Audubon, John James, 1785-1851. person
associatedWith Eliot, T. S. (Thomas Stearns), 1888-1965 person
associatedWith Graves, Robert Windham, 1858-1934 person
correspondedWith Johnson, Bryan Stanley William, 1933-1973 person
correspondedWith New Directions Publishing Corp. corporateBody
associatedWith Read, Herbert Edward, Sir, 1893-1968. person
associatedWith Roberts Ursula person
associatedWith Sitwell, Edith, 1887-1964. person
associatedWith Spark, Muriel, person
associatedWith Stewart, J. I. M. (John Innes Mackintosh), 1906- person
associatedWith Warburg, Fredric, 1898- person
associatedWith Williams, Oscar, 1900-1964 person
Place Name Admin Code Country
Authors, English
English literature 20th century History and criticism Sources
Letters 20th century
Male authors, English
Scrapbooks England 20th century


Birth 1911-07-27

Death 1981-05-23




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