MANUSCRIPT LETTER-BOOK, Autograph Letters and Photographs

David Gascoyne [Surrealist Poet]
Substantial bound manuscript by the poet David Gascoyne (1916-2001) together with an archive of photographs, letters from Gascoyne and his wife J… Read more
Published in 1980 by Unpublished.

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MANUSCRIPT LETTER-BOOK, Autograph Letters and Photographs by David Gascoyne [Surrealist Poet]

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Substantial bound manuscript by the poet David Gascoyne (1916-2001) together with an archive of photographs, letters from Gascoyne and his wife Judy Gascoyne and from Alan Clodd of the Enitharmon Press and many others.

This collection which dates from David Gascoyne’s later years was acquired by his friend the society photographer Pamela Chandler (1928-1993) who seems to have brokered several sales of Gascoyne's manuscripts and become a friend of both the poet and his wife in the process. The main item here is the bound manuscript which runs to 155 pages in Gascoyne’s hand, 1989-1991, written within a blank French ‘Livre de Brouillon’. The manuscript is a mixture of draft letters and other writings, mostly in English but with occasional forays in French and including notes for a talk on Elizabeth and Robert Browning. The draft correspondence comprises letters to a variety of personal and literary friends who include the writer George Steiner (about the hostile critical reception of his recently published Real Presences) the comedian and performer Barry Humphries, the novelist Alan Hollinghurst, then Literary Editor of The Independent (about an obituary of his friend Salvador Dali), the campaigning organisation Greenpeace, a musician who’d set his verse to music, Hay on Wye Festival, the Editor of the Independent on Sunday (about Salman Rushdie), Edward Jabes (in French), novelist Tracy Chevalier, and the office of the Prime Minister at 10 Downing Street regarding payment of his Civil List Pension.

Additionally there are 16 letters and cards from David Gascoyne to Chandler; a further 50 from Gascoyne’s wife Judy Gascoyne to Pamela Chandler and 13 from Alan Clodd at Enitharmon Press to Gascoyne and Pamela Chandler. In his letters Gascoyne offers insights into his creative life as he balances the demands placed on him as a poetic and political survivor from the 1930s and 1940s with the associated requests for memories via interviews, speeches, academic contributions, and readings that became his later life even as he continued to write poetry.

David Gascoyne was heavily associated with the Surrealist movement, achieved early success and lived in Paris after the second war before falling into mental ill-health. This collection which dates from his old age, and crucially, comes after his marriage, reveals his intense literary activity and attention to his own legacy - the notebook includes a letter to Reading University in which Gascoyne offered to sell them one of his manuscripts. Judy Gascoyne’s voluminous correspondence tracks her husband’s movements, often recording others’ appreciation of him - and sometimes their understanding - of his poems, especially the great and the good. She suggests that Chandler organise an exhibition of Gascoyne’s work and writes interestingly about his wider cultural reception, sending a postcard from an all expenses paid Mediterranean tour courtesy of the Greek government which hosted the ageing poet. The Gascoynes’ friend Pamela Chandler (1928-1993) was a leading London based photographer who became the photographer of choice for the publicly evasive J. R. R. Tolkien after being commissioned by his publisher to photograph him in 1961. She has the distinction of being the first female photographer to produce an official portrait of a Prime Minister when she photographed Harold Macmillan. After her death her collection was curated by her sister Diana Willson who also corresponded with Gascoyne’s widow, Judy, as witnessed in this collection.

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Added under Manuscript
Publisher Unpublished
Date published 1980
Subject 1 Manuscript
Product code 7758

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