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Alfred Noyes Papers

An inventory of his papers at Syracuse University

Finding aid created by: KM
Date: Aug 1987

Biographical History

Alfred Noyes (1880-1958) was an English poet. Born in Wolverhampton, he attended Exeter College, Oxford and later taught English at Princeton University (1914-1923). He published his first book of poetry, The Loom Years, in 1902, followed quickly by five more between 1903 and 1908; his autobiography, Two Worlds for Memory, was published in 1953.

Perhaps Noyes' best-known work is the ballad-poem "The Highwayman," which begins, "The wind was a torrent of darkness among the gusty trees / The moon was a ghostly galleon tossed upon cloudy seas / The road was a ribbon of moonlight over the purple moor / And the highwayman came riding -- riding -- riding / The highwayman came riding, up to the old inn door." The poem has been set to music twice, adapted as a historical novel, and used as a music video.

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The Alfred Noyes Papers consist of a Subject File, Correspondence, and Writings.

The Subject File contains a five-page holograph manuscript and a six-page typescript with extensive corrections and additions for an article which appeared in The Book Window in 1932. In addition there are three items of correspondence in connection with the publication of the piece, "A Talk with Alfred Noyes," including one letter to Editor Roy and two letters to the interviewer, H. C. Shelley. Enclosed also are the proof pages for the article with Noyes' corrections and additions and a portrait of Noyes dated 1915 by photographer Chickering.

Correspondence consists entirely of outgoing letters dated between 1900 and 1948. Most of the individual correspondents are unidentified, as Noyes began most of his letters "Dear Sir" rather than using the surname. The majority of the letters are of a business nature in which Noyes thanks editors for favorable reviews or solicits critiques of his work. Some of the correspondence includes favorable replies for requests to publish Noyes' work in newspapers or anthologies. Many of the letters contain Noyes' discussion of his own work at the time of writing or in relation to his previous output. The correspondence also includes acceptances of lecture invitations and agreements to requests to put his poetry to music.

Writings include a holograph manuscript of "The Touchstone series," a selection of four poems with a notation that "Touchstone on a Bus" was intended to precede the grouping. Also included are "The Great North Road" and "The Lights of Home."

Arrangement of the Collection

All items are arranged alphabetically.


Access Restrictions:

The majority of our archival and manuscript collections are housed offsite and require advanced notice for retrieval. Researchers are encouraged to contact us in advance concerning the collection material they wish to access for their research.

Use Restrictions:

Written permission must be obtained from SCRC and all relevant rights holders before publishing quotations, excerpts or images from any materials in this collection.

Subject Headings


Braithwaite, William Stanley, 1878-1962.
Osborn, Edward Bolland, 1867-
Shorter, Clement King, 1857-1926.
Waugh, Arthur, 1866-1943.


English poetry -- 20th century.
Poets, English.

Genres and Forms

Galley proofs.
Manuscripts for publication.



Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Preferred citation for this material is as follows:

Alfred Noyes Papers,
Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries

Table of Contents

Subject file