Collection: Elliott Collection MS Betjeman: John Betjeman, autograph manuscripts and poems, together with typed drafts of poems and typed letters

Archive Collection icon Archive Collection: John Betjeman, autograph manuscripts and poems, together with typed drafts of poems and typed letters

Details

Title: John Betjeman, autograph manuscripts and poems, together with typed drafts of poems and typed letters

Level: Collection 

Classmark: Elliott Collection MS Betjeman

Creator(s): Betjeman, John (1906-1984)

Date: c.1966-1980

Main language: English

Size and medium: Items (1) and (2) are held in 2 separate vols; manuscript and typescript. The collection in (3) comprises 40 items in 11 envelopes; manuscript and typescript.

Persistent link: https://explore.library.leeds.ac.uk/special-collections-explore/8485 

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Description

Comprises the following items: (1) Autograph manuscript drafts of Betjeman's poems 'Monody on the death of Aldersgate Street Station', 'Thoughts on 'The diary of a nobody'', and 'Felixstowe or The last of her order' (n.d.); (2) Typed letter from Lee Sturgeon, Betjeman's secretary (1966), held with a copy of Betjeman's printed book 'Mount Zion, or In touch with the infinite' (1931) and addressed to Dick Hansen, an earlier owner of it; (3) Largerly autograph manuscript drafts of poems by Betjeman (in some cases in multiple versions) written on backs of letters, leaflets and envelopes, the majority of them are unpublished, (i) "The street was bathed in winter sunset pink", 5 ff., (later published in "Collected Poems" as 'Chelsea 1977', p. 392); (ii) 'Christmas MCMLXXV', 5 ff.; (iii) A poem beginning "How safe I felt when travelling to the West", 2 ff., expressing Betjeman's enthusiasm for holidays in Cornwall; (iv) A poem beginning "However sad or broken", possibly celebrating the Queen's Jubilee; (v) "Heart of Oak", "Here the cream of Birmingham sits", "St George's Channel on the Irish Sea", "Flapping hither, flitting thither", "Those hideous blocks that slam the sky"; (vi) "Has the grace her church has prayed for", "Salesmanship", "Pale Pre-Raphaelite Mary Shand", "They have gone, those elms, that meant so much in our landscape"; (vii) Further miscellaneous verse drafts; (viii) A script for a film commentary (?) in poetry and prose entitled "A Curate for Great Kirkby: written by John Betjeman in 1953 to accomp[a]ny an Additional Curates' Society film strip", 11 ff., typescript; (ix) A typed account in prose of "tea with Ivy Compton-Burnett & Margaret Jourdain", 1f., on headed stationery of 12 Ormond Street, London, 5 March 1949, incomplete, possibly not by Betjeman (?); (x) A crude drawing, characteristic of Betjeman's taste for the scatological, a letter in manuscript to Betjeman from Mary Wilson at 10 Downing Street, 1974, a typed letter from "plimmi" (Penelope Betjeman) to "Darling Tewps" (John Betjeman), and a photograph of Betjeman with Princess Margaret, Lady Elizabeth Cavendish and ?; (xi) Reg Read's list of the verse drafts listed above as 3i-vi, manuscript, and a chapter from Bevis Hillier's 'John Betjeman', vol. III (2004), photocopy; (xii) 'The Old Liberals', nine autograph manuscript drafts with sketches, doodles and notes, a signed and corrected carbon-copy TS, and a page proof for Horizon magazine, (ca.1947-49).

Item (1) is held in transparent plastic envelopes within an olive green custom-made case bearing on the spine the gilt lettering 'John Betjeman/ Poetical drafts'; (2) is held inside 'Mount Zion, or In touch with the infinite', by Betjeman; (3) is held inside a grey archival folder.

Administrative or biographical history

Sir John Betjeman (1906-1984), the poet laureate, writer on architecture, and broadcaster. For fuller details of his life and achievements see the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.

Provenance

The draft verses (3 i-xi) were once owned by the bookseller Reg Read, with whom Betjeman had become friends in 1977.

Access and usage

Access

Access to this material is unrestricted.

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Related people and organisations

Sturgeon, Lee Sturgeon, Lee

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