The David Harsent collection includes manuscripts, research material, video recordings, audio recordings, correspondence, memorabilia, and printed material.
Manuscripts include poetry collections, novels, translations, librettos, screenplays, stage plays, and teleplays. Poetry manuscripts by Harsent include multiple drafts of the poetry collection A Violent Country (1969); A Bird's Idea of Flight (1998); Marriage and Lepus (2002); and others. Novels include Between the Dog and the Wolf; multiple drafts of The Spirit of Francesco; and multiple drafts of Down into Darkness. Works translated by Harsent include Gaarriye by Maxamid Xaashi Dhamac, which also includes information concerning World Poets Tour 2005; The Sorrow of Sarajevo by Goran Simic; and Tristichs with Alice Kavounas' literal translation. Librettos by Harsent include multiple drafts of Francesco, Man of Light; Gawain; and multiple drafts of Minotaur (2004-2005), to name a few. Screenplays by Harsent include Alice in White; Big Fish, Little Fish; and The Cuban, which, in addition to a draft and a treatment, includes an article by Harsent entitled Producing Castro (2004). Stage plays by Harsent include Do Swifts Sleep on the Wing?; In the Zone (2006); as well as notes and treatments for others. There is also material related to several of Harsent’s teleplays for The Bill (Episode 32, 39, 44, 53, 54); Midsomer Murders XI (Episode 1 and 7); Midsomer Murders XIII (Episode 1); and Midsomer Murders XIV (Episode 5).
Research material consists of material on Diana, Princess of Wales, which Harsent utilized as background material for his libretto for Death of a Princess. The file also contains the vocal score from the opera; VHS video cassettes workshop edit (2002); and a compact disc identified as Death of a Princess with Voices (2002).
Video recordings include a number of VHS tapes of events surrounding both the life and death of Princess Diana that Harsent used as further background material for his opera. There are digital video discs of Harsent’s Gawain, The Bill, and The Minotaur.
Audio recordings include compact discs from a BBC Radio 3 program on Harsent's The Minotaur; David Harsent reading from his poems; and The Minotaur, to name a few.
Correspondence includes professional letters from 1993 to 2005.
Notebooks include several bound notebooks containing poetry, outlines, inserts, sketches and lyrics (1980s-1990s).
Awards include the Gregory Award for A Violent Country (1967); the Geoffrey Faber Memorial Award for Dreams of the Dead (1978); the Arts Council Writer’s Award (1978); the Society of Authors Travel Award (1988); Royal Society of Literature Fellow (2000); Forward Poetry Prize (2005) and the Chomondeley Award (2008).
Printed material includes broadsides of Harsent's poems From Metals with a Memory to Brilliant Light Emitting Solids (2007); Broken Glass; and Leap of the Skyline. There are also posters from the World Wildlife Fund featuring the David Harsent poems, Rainforest, Icefield, and Ocean. Also included are designs for The Minotaur by Alison Cuitty and a poster from the Royal Opera production of The Minotaur.