Title: Cecil Lay correspondence and papers
Classmark: BC MS 20c Lay
Creator(s): Lay, Cecil Howard (1885-1956)
Main language: English
Size and medium: 25 boxes, 9 vols, and 8 pamphlets; manuscript, typescript, photographs, postcards, press cuttings, and printed material (some photocopy).
Collection group(s): English Literature
Comprises: (1) 10 boxes of correspondence, including 6 boxes of Lay's letters to his wife Joan dated 1926-1956, 2 boxes of letters to Lay from many other correspondents, 1 box of letters from Lay to Elfrida Thornycroft dated 1928-1955, and 1 box of letters from various other correspondents, including Sir Frank Brangwyn, to Lay; (2) 7 boxes of Lay's autograph manuscript and typescript drafts of his poems, probably dating from ca. 1925 until his death, totalling at least 1000, including some galley proofs and printers' copies; (3) 3 boxes of similar drafts of his prose works, consisting largely of literary essays, stories, and architectural and artistic articles, with some journalism and humorous writing, of uncertain date, but probably starting in the early decades of the twentieth century; (4) 3 boxes of press cuttings, including reviews of his books, reviews of exhibitions to which he contributed paintings, and his many letters to the press, dating from about 1927 until his death, together with an old newspaper scrapbook of such cuttings; (5) 1 box of miscellaneous other items, including Brangwyn's sketches and Christmas cards, the Parkin Gallery Exhibition papers, and articles on Lay by R.L. MÌgroz and Christopher Ravilious; (6) 1 box of personalia and biographical items, including juvenilia, Lay's school reports, his war documents and badge, family photographs, including one of his father aged about 14 years of age (i.e. ca. 1870), his parents' marriage certificate, his own birth, marriage, and death certificates, sketches drawn by him, photographs of some of his paintings, and correspondence concerning a Clodd Memorial plaque which he advocated; (7) Steven Tuohy's 1980 thesis devoted to Lay, which has further details of the contents of the collection; (8) 1 volume, now empty, which, according to a typed list on the outside front cover, once held certain letters to Lay from various well-known correspondents; (9) 7 vols of his published poems, including, 'Sparrows' (1927), 'Grotesques and Arabesques' (1928), 'In and out' (1930), 'April's Foal' (1932), 'To Suffolk' (2nd edition, ), 'The collected poems of Cecil Lay' (1962), and 'An Adder in June' (1978); and (10) 8 pamphlets published by Lay, including, 3 copies of 'Love's Ethic' (1922), 'Seven poems' (1932), 'Ha and He' (1933), 'Samples' (1934), 'To Suffolk' (3rd edition, n.d.), and 'Eight poems' (n.d.).
Includes several sketches, a few Christmas cards, personal documents, certificates, and a badge.
Cecil Howard Lay, the Suffolk poet, painter, and architect, was born in the village of Aldringham on 3 April 1885. His father, who came from an Essex sea-faring family, was the village schoolmaster for forty years. C.H. Lay was educated at the Queen Elizabeth School at Ipswich and the Architectural Association, London. He was elected an Associate of the R.I.B.A. in 1912 and a Fellow in 1925. After visits to Belgium and Holland to study paintings, he returned to live in Aldringham until his death on 6 February 1956. He married his wife Joan (née Chadburn) in 1932, but they had no children. Apart from his poetry, painting, and architecture, his chief interests were the local countryside and his friends there. He was also an antiquarian. His first collection of poems, 'Sparrows', was published in 1927, and was followed by several other collections, but his 'Collected poems' was not published until 1962, posthumously. He is buried in Aldringham village churchyard.
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