Alan Burnett Collection.

Reference Code

GB243 T/SOR/1


Alan Burnett Collection

Dates of Creation




  1. Name of Creators

Alan Burnett

Anne Oliver

  1. Level of Description


Administrative History

Alan 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 Alan Burnett’s writing, including his poems, diary and fragmentary reflections, and correspondence sent by Alan 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. Alan Burnett is also known as Allan Burnett.

  1. 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.

  1. System of Arrangement

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

  1. Custodial History

Alan Burnett. Transferred to Anne Oliver.

  1. Immediate Source of Acquisition

Anne Oliver, Auckland, New Zealand

  1. Appraisal, Destruction, Scheduling

Appraised according to the Spirit of Revolt appraisal policy

  1. Accruals

No further accruals.

  1. Access Conditions


  1. Copyright Reproduction

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

  1. Existence of Copies

No known copies

  1. Finding Aids

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

  1. Publication Note

No known publications

  1. Related collections

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

  1. Date(s) of Description

Compiled by Christopher Cassells (Project Archivist) September 2012


Poetry and Writing



Collection of poems by Alan Burnett



Essays and reflections

Dialogues, reflections and short essays. Includes transcript of Burnett’s statement to the judge at his trial in the Sheriff Court, Glasgow for refusing to submit himself to a medical exam as part of his conscription.  Read on line




Teenage diary of Alan Burnett written between 1943 and 1946. It includes accounts of his preparation for his appearance at the Sheriff court and descriptions of his hill walking and walks around Glasgow. Also includes 8 photographs which Burnett mentions taking in his diary, a leaflet titled Popular Travel Talk Events 1945-46, and a poem written by Burnett in 1996 in response to rediscovering his teenage diary.



Employment and Education

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.




1943 – 2012


Letters from prison

Letters from Alan Burnett sent to his mother while in Barlinnie Prison, Glasgow and Slateford Prison, Edinburgh. Read on line.

1943 – 1944


Letters on the death of Alan Burnett’s brothers

Letters from Alan Burnett to his nephew and sister-in-law on the death of Alan’s brother James and letters from Alan on the death of his brother Bertie to his sister Jean and Bertie’s widow Jenny.

1970 – 1993


Letters to sister

Letters from Alan Burnett sent to his sister Jean.

1953 – 2003


Anne Oliver’s correspondence

Two letters from Anne Oliver about the collection and Alan Burnett. One letter contains two photographs of Burnett in his old age and an inventory of the collection. Read on line.



Inksheds Journal

A poetry and short story journal from New Zealand Writers Workshop.

1977 – 1998


Inksheds 2

Edited and printed by Charles Alldritt. Published by New Zealand Writers Workshop.

Read on line.

Sept 1977


Inksheds 5

Edited by Maurice Turner. Published by Alan Burnett. Read on line.

Jun 1990


Inksheds 6

Edited by Fred Farnath. Published by Alan Burnett. Read on line.

Nov 1990


Inksheds 7

Compiled and edited by Gloria Stanford, Alan Burnett and Fred Farnath. Published by New Zealand Writers Workshop. Read on line.

Nov 1991


Inksheds 8

Compiled and edited by Gloria Stanford. Alan Burnett and Moira Valentine. Published by Stan Stanford.  Read on line

Dec 1992


Inksheds 9

Compiled and edited by John Davy. Tribute to Community Organisation Grants Scheme. Read on line.



Inksheds Adieu

Edited and published by Gloria Stanford. Printed by Charles Alldritt. Read on line.

Oct 1988



Photographs of Alan Burnett and his family from his birth to when he departed for New Zealand in the 1950s. View on line.





Permit No. 51831

Unknown permit featuring a photograph of Alan Burnett, his address in London Rd, Glasgow and his signature. Read on line.



Extract entry of birth for Alan Burnett

Extracted from the REGISTER BOOK OF BIRTHS, for the DISTRICT of BRIDGETON, in the BURGH of GLASGOW this THIRTIETH day of January Nineteen Hundred and Twenty Five. Read on line