Leeds University Library

Leeds lives


Leeds lives is a celebration of writers, artists and public figures with strong connections to Yorkshire and the University of Leeds. Whether they were students or staff, their subsequent lives and careers were undeniably shaped by their time with us, and we are proud to give their archive material a home in Special Collections.


Sir Michael Sadler (1861-1943)

Vice-Chancellor of the University, 1911-1923
Honorary DLitt, 1924

A progressive educationalist, he believed strongly that a rich cultural knowledge greatly enhanced a student's learning. He introduced a wider curriculum and facilitated more interaction between the University and the community. Sadler donated artworks and papers to the University in 1923.

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Arthur Ransome (1884-1967)

Yorkshire College student, 1901
Honorary DLitt, 1952

Writer, journalist, spy. Famous author of Swallows and Amazons. He was born in Headingley, attended the Yorkshire College, received an honorary degree from the University in 1952, and his archive was presented to the University in the 1970s.

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Bonamy Dobrée (1891-1974)

Professor of English Literature, 1936-1955

Dobrée created an outstanding School of English at Leeds and brought many well-known writers to the University. He was instrumental in establishing the Fine Art Department and setting up the Gregory Fellowships. His archive, containing hundreds of letters, was donated by his daughter in 1988.

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Sir Herbert Read (1893-1968)

Student, 1912-1915
Honorary DLitt, 1932

Poet, critic, curator at the Victoria and Albert Museum, and knighted anarchist. Herbert Read was the son of a Yorkshire farmer who became one of the leading critics of art in Britain in the middle 20th century. His personal library of 14,000 volumes came to the University in 1996.

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Lord Boyle of Handsworth (1923-1981)

Vice-Chancellor of the University, 1970-1981
Honorary LLD, 1965

Conservative politician Edward Boyle was Minister of Education from 1962 to 1964. He came to the University as Vice-Chancellor in 1970, and was Chair of the Committee of Vice-Chancellors and Principals from 1977 to 1979. On his death, Lord Boyle bequeathed his papers to us.

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Zygmunt Bauman (1925-2017)

Professor of Sociology, 1972-1990
Emeritus Professor, 2004

Regarded as one of the greatest social thinkers of our times, Bauman wrote dozens of books and papers and won several prestigious awards. He continued to write and lecture after his retirement. The University created The Bauman Institute in 2010 and is currently developing an archive.

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Tony Harrison (born 1937)

Student, 1955-1960
Honorary DLitt, 2004

Studying at the University of Leeds was the boyhood goal of working-class Tony Harrison from Beeston, Leeds. Today he is one of Britain's greatest living poets, having won many literary prizes, including the European Prize for Literature, 2010. His literary archive lives - and grows - in Special Collections.

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Lord Bragg (born 1939)

Chancellor of the University 1999-present
Honorary DLitt, 2000

A playwright, biographer and novelist, Oxford-educated Bragg is best known for his 50-some years as an educational broadcaster. He also works with charities and cultural organisations, and is a Labour life peer. In 2009 he gave the Library his massive literary archive.

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