Seven Stories, the National Centre for Children’s Books, has acquired the archives of poets John Agard and Grace Nichols thanks to a Heritage Lottery Fund grant of £341,500.
Agard’s archive, which dates from the 1970s, includes 24 pocket-sized notebooks where the poet jotted down drafts of his stories and poems, as well as working manuscripts and correspondence with editors, agents and fans. Nichols’ archive also dates from the 1970s and comprises working manuscripts, some with annotations and revisions, and letters to printers, publishers, schools and readers.
Sarah Lawrence, collections and exhibitions director at Seven Stories, said: “Individually, and as collaborative partners and editors, John Agard and Grace Nichols are among the most influential poets writing for children and young adults today. Through their anthologies they have also been instrumental in introducing children to the voices and the culture of the Caribbean. Both were born in Guyana but have been living in Britain since the late 1970s. They write for children of all ages, from toddlers to young adults, and are both well-known to GCSE students for poems such as Agard's Half Caste.
“This acquisition was made possible by the National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund’s Collecting Cultures programme*and we are thrilled that we had the opportunity to protect this key part of British history for future generations.”
Agard’s first collection of poems for children was I Din Do Nuttin’, published by Bodley Head in 1983, and subsequent works include Say It Again, Granny (Bodley Head, 1986) and Get Back Pimple (Viking, 1997). He won The Queen's Medal for Poetry in 2012 and the Eleanor Farjeon Award for Services to Children's Literature in 2016.
Nichols’ collections for children include Come on into my Tropical Garden (Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 1988), Everybody Got A Gift (Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2005), and Cosmic Disco (Frances Lincoln Children’s Books, 2013).
Both collections will feature in Seven Stories’ 2018 programme of events and exhibitions and will be available for research and consultation at the archive.