Alan Burnett Collection

Alan Burnett Finding Aid.

Reference Code

GB243 T/SOR/1


Allan Burnett Collection

Dates of Creation




Name of Creators

Allan Burnett

Anne Oliver

Level of Description


Administrative History

Allan Burnett was born on the 12th of January 1925 and grew up in Glasgow. A member of the Glasgow Anarchist Federation in his youth, in 1943 he was sent to prison as a conscientious objector, saying at his trial at Glasgow Sheriff Court, “I refuse to be pitchforked or led into slaughter, like so much human manure, or to be duped into the lunatic butchery of my comrades and fellow workers of other geographical spheres who are like-wise enslaved in a system of organized misery imposed on them by their respective ruling classes.” After his release he moved to London and spent time in a number of communes. During this period he also travelled to France and Italy, staying at youth hostels. Shortly after his marriage, he moved to New Zealand where he lived for the rest of his life, never returning to Scotland. Prior to moving to New Zealand Burnett worked as a shipwright and insurance clerk. In New Zealand he initially worked as a shipping clerk and a bank officer before running his own business in the building trade. In the 1970s he was employed by Auckland City Council as a housing inspector. He was active in the Worker’s Educational Association and held the association’s public speaking trophy in the mid 1970s. Throughout his life he wrote poetry, some of which can be found in this collection, the subjects of which ranged from politics, in particular his libertarianism, to his love of the outdoors, a passion which is evident in his youthful diary. He died on the 10th of October 2007.

The collection primarily consists of Allan Burnett’s writing, including his poems, diary and fragmentary reflections, and correspondence sent by Allan Burnett to his family, including letters sent by Burnett to his mother while imprisoned in Barlinnie Prison, Glasgow. Additionally, the collection includes photographs of Burnett and his family and friends, employment references and school reports, job applications, and a number of issues of Inkshed, a journal of poetry and short stories published by Burnett and his friends in the New Zealand Writers Workshop. Throughout the collection are explanatory notes written by Anne Oliver providing contextual information on the material.

Scope and Content

Poetry and writing, 1943-1997 ; Employment and Education, 1949-1975; Correspondence, 1943-2012; Inksheds Journal, 1977-1998; Photographs, 1925-c.1950; Ephemera, 1925-2012.

System of Arrangement

The arrangement of this material reflects the original order in which it was received.

Custodial History

Allan Burnett. Transferred to Anne Oliver.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Anne Oliver, Auckland, New Zealand

Appraisal, Destruction, Scheduling

Appraised according to the Spirit of Revolt appraisal policy


No further accruals.

Access Conditions


Copyright Reproduction

Application for reproduction should be made to the Spirit of Revolt group.

Existence of Copies

No known copies

Finding Aids

Descriptive list available at Glasgow City Archives and on the Spirit of Revolt website.

Publication Note

No known publications

Related collections

Other Spirit of Revolt collections (Ref: T/SOR) are held at Glasgow City Archives.

Date(s) of Description

Compiled by Christopher Cassells (Project Archivist) September 2012

1 Poetry and Writing
1 Poetry. 1957-1997
Collection of poems by Alan Burnett. Poem T-SOR1-1oi.
2 Essays and reflections 1943-1997
Dialogues, reflections and short essays. Includes transcript of Burnett’s statement to the judge at his trial in the Sherrif Court, Glasgow for refusing to submit himself to a medical exam as part of his conscription.
3 Diary 1943-1996
Burnett’s teenage diary. Includes a poem written in response to rediscovering his diary in 1996.
2 Employment and Education 1949-1975
Employment and character references for Alan Burnett from previous employers, a school report from Bernard Street Junior Secondary Public School, and two job applications written by Burnett for posts in New Zealand as a secretary and community advisor.
3 Correspondence 1943-2012
1 Letters from prison 1943-1944
Letters from Allan Burnett sent to his mother while in Barlinnie Prison, Glasgow and Slateford Prison, Edinburgh.
2 Letters on the death of Alan Burnett’s brothers 1970; 1993
Letters from Allan Burnett to his nephew and sister-in-law on the death of Allan’s brother James and letters from Allan on the death of his brother Bertie to his sister Jean and Bertie’s widow Jenny.
3 Letters to sister 1953-2003
Letters from Allan Burnett sent to his sister Jean.
4 Anne Oliver’s correspondence 2012
Two letters from Anne Oliver about the collection and Allan Burnett. One letter contains two photographs of Burnett in his old age and an inventory of the collection.
4 Inksheds Journal 1977-1998
A poetry and short story journal published by The New Zealand Writers Workshop.
1 Inksheds 2
2 Inksheds 5
3 Inksheds 6
4 Inksheds 7
5 Inksheds 8
6 Inksheds 9
7 Inksheds Adieu
5 Photographs 1925-c.1950
Photographs of Allan Burnett and his family from his birth to when he departed for New Zealand in the 1950s.
6 Ephemera
1 Unknown permit featuring photograph of Allan Burnett n.d.
2 Extract entry of birth for Allan Burnett 1925