Barker Fairley's portrait of L.W. Forster from the archive
Portrait of L.W. Forster by Canadian artist Barker Fairley (1887-1986) from the archive

Leonard William Forster was born in London on 30 March 1913. He was educated at Marlborough College, Trinity Hall, Cambridge, where he obtained his BA in 1934 and MA in 1938, and the University of Basle, where he was awarded the Dr phil degree in 1938. He then served as English Lektor at the University of Leipzig in 1934, at the University of Königsberg from 1935 to1936, and the University of Basle from 1936 to 1938.

He held Fellowships at Selwyn College, Cambridge from 1937 to 1950 and from 1961 to1997. During the Second World War, he served as a codebreaker at Bletchley Park, holding the rank of Lt Cdr RNVR.

He was Professor of German at University College London from 1950 to1961, and was appointed Schröder Professor of German at the University of Cambridge in 1961, a post which he held until 1979. From 1970 to 1975 he served as the President of the Internationale Vereingung für Germanistik (IVG). He died in Cambridge on 18 April 1997.

The Papers

The material comprises: correspondence and articles by and about Joseph Breitbach (1956-1986); correspondence with and about Wilhelm Lehmann (1950-1975); correspondence about Frederick 'Bimbo' Norman (1969-1973); correspondence with J.R.R. Tolkien (1960-1961); research notes and correspondence on the publication of German Poetry (1944-1948); correspondence on the publication of the Penguin Book of German Verse, including correspondence with academics on development of the anthology and notes on the poems, correspondence with publishers and editors, and letters of congratulation on publication (1955-1957); correspondence on the publication of The History of German Literature (Penguin, 1955-1961); correspondence with Henri Béhar (Association pour l'étude du Mouvement Dada), Antoine Fischer (Saisons d'Alsace) and Aimée Bleikasten on the poetry of Hans Arp (1966-1972); correspondence and papers on Paul Celan and Immanuel Weissglass (1969-1984); correspondence and papers on Erich Fried and the Darmstädter Akademia (1987); correspondence and papers on Günter Grass (1969-1982); correspondence on Oskar Kokoschka (1961-1988); and correspondence with Hans and Ilse von Savigny (1948-1972).

Also included are student journals and political newsletters from German universities, ca.1970s-1990s, including Freiburg/Br., Frankfurt/Main, Heidelberg, Kiel, and Marburg. Many papers relate to the Freie Universität Berlin.

Archival Arrangement


This material is awaiting sorting and cataloguing. A box-list is currently available.

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