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Riley, John, 1937-1978 (poet and editor)



  • Existence: 1937 - 1978


John Riley was born in Leeds on 10 October 1937 and raised in the city. After National Service in the Royal Air Force from 1956 to 1958 he attended Pembroke College, Cambridge (matriculated Michaelmas 1958, B.A. 1961, M.A. 1965). In 1966 he founded the Grosseteste Press with Tim Longville, and a magazine, the 'Grosseteste Review', in 1968. He held teaching posts in schools near Cambridge and later in Bicester, until returning to Leeds in 1970 to devote his full time to writing. He was received into the Russian Orthodox Church in 1977. Riley was murdered in Leeds on October 27-28 1978. His publications in his lifetime included poems ('Ancient and Modern', 1967; 'A Legend of St Anthony', with Tim Longville, 1967; 'The Civil War', with Tim Longville, 1968; 'What Reason Was: Poems, 1967-1969', 1970; 'Ways of Approaching', 1973; 'A Meeting', 1978; 'That is Today', 1978), translations ('In The Arms of the Gods' versions of Hölderlin, volume 1, with Tim Longville, 1967; 'What I Own: Versions of Hölderlin, volume 2, with Tim Longville, 1973); and prose ('Correspondences', 1970; 'Prose Pieces', 1974). His posthumous publications include 'Stalin Ode Sequence, from the Second Voronezh Notebook', from the Russian of Osip Mandelshtam, 1979; 'John Riley, The Collected Works', edited by Tim Longville, 1980; 'Selected Poems', edited by Michael Grant, 1995; and 'What I Own: Versions of Hölderlin and Mandelshtam', with Tim Longville, 1998.

Found in 2 Collections and/or Records:


Correspondence from John Riley to John Robert Jackson Hammond

Reference Code: GBR/0012/MS Add.10315
Scope and Contents

126 letters and cards from Riley to Hammond, mostly with envelopes, and 2 letters from Tim Longville to Hammond.

Dates: 1956- 1978
Conditions Governing Access: Unless restrictions apply, the collection is open for consultation by researchers using the Manuscripts Reading Room at Cambridge University Library. For further details on conditions governing access please contact Information about opening hours and obtaining a Cambridge University Library reader's ticket is available from the Library's website (

John Riley Papers

Reference Code: GBR/0012/MS Add.10038
Scope and Contents

The collection consists of bound and unbound poetry and prose, chiefly by Riley; correspondence, chiefly addressed to Riley; and miscellaneous printed and manuscript items. The notebooks include some entries relating to the administration of the Grosseteste Press and Grosseteste Review, and in several places in the collection there are evidences of Riley's creative and business relationship with Tim Longville.

Dates: 1955-1979 (circa)
Conditions Governing Access: The collection contains personal correspondence. The provisions of the Data Protection Act (1998) apply. Access to documents may be restricted if they contain information exempted from disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act, 2000. Some correspondence files are closed for specified periods for reasons of confidentiality.

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