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Papers of Erich Adolph Alport (1903–72)

Dr. Erich Adolph Alport (1903–72) was born in Posen, Germany, and first went to the University of Heidelberg, before matriculating at University College in 1926, where he spent two terms, eventually settling in England.


An obituary of him in the 1972 edition of the University College Record (p. 187), quoting from the Times, says:

"Inconspicuously Erich put his special talents to the service of England in war and peace. An international liberal in outlook, he took seriously his membership of Chatham House. He was a tireless traveller, curious about his fellow men and their varied cultures. Latterly he made a speciality of the Berber tribes of North Africa, studying their history and habits, collecting material for his lectures and planning a monograph ... Though he dwelt much in the past, he had a sharp eye for new talent. He was a lover of all the arts, his taste in music, literature, painting and sculpture being as fastidious as his choice of friends."

On Alport’s death in 1972, his collection of books was bequeathed to the Library of University College. This is an important collection, mainly of first editions of 20th century novels and poetry.  More information about Alport's books, and how to obtain access to them, can be found on the Library's web pages.


The books were found to contain assorted loose papers within their pages, including letters, printed ephemera and newspaper cuttings (usually reviews of the books themselves). For some years these papers were taken out of the books as they were found, and this collection was transferred to the archives in January 1998 as Acc. No. 54. However, none of the items in this collection had any record of which book they came from. In March-April 1999, the Archivist then examined all the books in the Alport collection, and extracted any remaining loose papers, this time noting the origin of each item. UC:P110/P1/4 and UC:P110/P2/4 were found by the College Curator, Prof. Hartmut Pogge von Strandmann, and transferred to the Archives in November 2005 as Accession No. 626. Where, therefore, the origin of a document is known, it is given in the catalogue.

The diaries at UC:P110/J1/1–50 have a somewhat different provenance: these were found among the papers of the ballet critic Richard “Dicky” Buckle (1916–2001), who was a good friend of Alport, and who acted as his executor (see UC:P110/C9). These diaries were given to the College in June 2009 as Accession No. 845 by a cousin of Buckle’s, Charles Graham (matr. 1980), who found them when he was sorting out Buckle’s papers. The main body of Buckle’s papers have now been donated to the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas at Austin.

There are also some Alport papers at the British Library (refs. Add MS 74771 A–B and Add MS 74997–74999), which were acquired in two instalments in 1999. These include letters to Alport from many of the people who are listed below. Their contents can be searched through the British Library’s online catalogue.

The Alport papers have been divided into several sections. UC:P110/C1-C41, probably the most important sections, comprise letters, grouped alphabetically by correspondent. These include such figures as W.H. Auden, Paul Bowles, Benjamin Britten, Nevill Coghill, Christopher Isherwood, Henry Moore and Stephen Spender. UC:P110/C39 contains letters from correspondents whose name is not known. The collection also includes some notes, photographs, and several programmes, invitations and literary circulars, as well as Alport’s diaries, which he maintained for most of his adult life.

All letters are handwritten and one sheet long, and addressed to Alport, unless otherwise indicated.

Note that some letters to Alport from correspondents who are still alive are closed during their lifetime.

Recatalogued in October 2013.

A pdf version of the complete catalogue of Alport's papers can be found here.