Modern English literature and drama subject guide

Howard Sergeant (1914 - 1987)

Herbert (‘Howard’) Sergeant was born in Hull and qualified as an accountant.  He served in the RAF and the Air Ministry during the Second World War and with the assistance of his friend Lionel Monteith, edited and published the first issue of his poetry magazine Outposts in February 1944.  Outposts is the longest running independent poetry magazine in Britain and over the decades, has specialised in publishing unrecognised poets alongside the well established.  Sergeant had been writing poetry since childhood and his first poem to be published was ‘Thistledown magic’, in Chambers Journal in 1943.  Sergeant’s own poetry was included in the first issue of Outposts (but rarely thereafter) and his first published collection, The leavening air, appeared in 1946.  He was involved in setting up the Dulwich Group (a branch of the British Poetry Association) in 1949, and again, when it re-formed in 1960.  In 1956, Sergeant published the first of the Outposts Modern Poets Series of booklets and hardbacks devoted to individual poets.  During his lifetime he served on the Executive Councils of the PEN, the English Association, the National Book League and the Poetry Society, as well as on the panel of judges for the EC Gregory Awards.  As a poetry editor he specialised particularly in anthologies of Commonwealth poetry and children’s poetry.  Alongside his literary work, he had a career first as a company accountant, and then from 1963, as a lecturer.  He retired as head of the School of Management at Brooklands Technical College in Weybridge in 1978 and received an MBE in the same year.  After a gap of many years, he began to write poetry again and several of his poetry collections date from the 1980s, including his Selected poems.  After his death in 1987, the editorship of Outposts was taken over by Roland John.

The Sergeant archive was purchased from his widow, Jean Sergeant, in 1998 and provides extensive coverage of the full range of his literary work.  The collection is catalogued in draft and includes correspondence with fellow poets, poetry and fiction by Sergeant, files relating to Outposts, files relating to anthologies edited by Sergeant, reviews, articles and lectures by and about him, and files relating to poetry competitions and awards.  [DSG]

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