Today I had a visit from 2nd year Creative Writing students and their tutor Lania. We looked at material from our Dymock Poets Special Collection and U A Fanthorpe Archive, even listening to an audio recording of Robert Frost reading his own poetry. It was lovely to listen in on how the students used the material to inspire their creative processes.
Last night saw the successful launch of the new Special Collections and Archives online catalogue. Three of the University’s archive collections have already been catalogued – the University Archive Miscellaneous Donations collection; the Cyder Press Collection and the Dymock Poets Special Collection.
Last night focused on the Dymock Poets collection – a unique gathering of material on famous poets such as Rupert Brooke, Robert Frost and Edward Thomas who lived in and visited the Gloucestershire village of Dymock during the summer of 1914. The collection not only documents this “brief idyll”, but covers the lives of the poets and the ensuing century of interest they have generated.
Archivist Louise Hughes says “We are so lucky as an institution to have such a fantastic archive dedicated to these world-renowned poets and their Gloucestershire connections. Not only do we have a wealth of published material by and criticism of the poets, we have original drafts of poetry, unpublished letters and private photographs – completely unique and held here at the University. Our new online catalogue has enabled this and other collections to be opened up to researchers both here and all over the world. It is a major milestone.”
Staff and students read poetry by the Dymock Poets and were joined by members of the Edward Thomas Fellowship and Friends of the Dymock Poets. The great turnout, mulled wine and festive treats made it a fitting celebration.
To celebrate the launch of our new online catalogue the Special Collections and Archives are hosting an evening of poetry and seasonal refreshments, giving you the chance to discover our newly catalogued Dymock Poets Special Collection. Please come along and discover more about the poets, why they were in Dymock and what gems the special collection contains. See you there!
Cataloguing of the Dymock Poets Special Collection is reaching the final stages with only the material from Myfanwy Thomas (Edward Thomas’s youngest daughter) left to sort. The rest of the catalogue is now complete and available to search online.
The cataloguing project has uncovered a wealth of interesting and unique material charting the poets’ lives (Lascelles Abercrombie, Rupert Brooke, John Drinkwater, Robert Frost, Wilfrid Wilson Gibson and Edward Thomas), their time in Dymock and the wider academic and popular interest they have generated over the last century. Original letters by Edward Thomas sit alongside a vast array of articles, essays, event information and photographs.
Highlights from the collection include:
- Annual Christmas greetings cards from Robert Frost
- Original letters from Eleanor Farjeon to Rowland Watson
- Original manuscript of the poem “Walking Tom” by Clifford Bax and Herbert Farjeon
- Eleanor Farjeon’s notes on meeting Robert Frost for the final time in 1957
- Handwritten lecture notes by Lascelles Abercrombie
- Audio interviews with Abercrombie’s wife, Catherine
- Original letters from Helen Thomas to Jo Dawson
- Many photocopies letters from Edward Thomas [to Robert Frost and others]; Lascelles Abercrombie, John Drinkwater, Wilfrid Wilson Gibson [to Rupert Brooke and Edward Marsh]; John Freeman and Wilfrid Wilson Gibson [to John Wilton Haines] where the originals are held in other repositories
- Personal First World War papers belonging to Wilfrid Wilson Gibson
- Rupert Brooke’s assignment of copyright signed by his mother Mary Ruth Brooke
- Original letters from various sources and manuscript “Memories of Edward Thomas” compiled by Rowland Watson using these original accounts
- Handwritten poetry by John Drinkwater
- Handwritten poetry and original letters of Edward Thomas, some unpublished
- Framed pencil drawing of W H Davies [1871 – 1940] by John Wheatley [1892 – 1955], ARA
The last series of documents to catalogue was received from Myfanwy Thomas via The Edward Thomas Fellowship. The material continues the trend of offering a vast source of information, this time on Edward Thomas, lovingly curated by Myfanwy during the later years of her life. The material was received over a period of time and as there was no original order it falls to archive staff to sort the documents prior to writing the catalogue descriptions.
Sorting material from Myfanwy Thomas
One of the boxes the material arrived in unknowingly paid tribute to Thomas:
Edward Thomas lived at The Red House in Hampshire from 1909 – 1913
It is sad to think work on cataloguing this collection is drawing to an end as it has been a fascinating experience but great to know that everyone can now access the delights it holds.
The cataloguing of the archival and ephemeral material in our Dymock Poets Special Collection has begun. The collection is unique, telling the story of the commune of poets who settled in Dymock just before the outbreak of the First World War and the proceeding century of interest they have created. We have original documents by literary giants such as Edward Thomas, and those who were well-known and respected figures of their time like the Northumbrian poet Wilfrid Gibson.
The first stage of sorting the collection has begun
Published material such as volumes of poetry and critical studies are already catalogued and available to view on the University’s library catalogue. The remaining 13 linear meters of documents, correspondence, photographs and ephemera will be catalogued onto the Special Collections and Archives catalogue, meaning the whole collection will be accessible online for the first time.
We are very lucky to have benefited from 20 years of links with the Edward Thomas Fellowship and Friends of the Dymock Poets, and through them have received material for the collection from various sources, not least the descendants of the poets themselves. Our students have also worked with the material in the past, most recently our MA Creative and Critical Writing students who used the collection to create new pieces of dramatic writing inspired by the poets, which premiered at the Everyman Theatre in Cheltenham in June 2015.
Some of the original documents from the collection
The catalogue is scheduled to be completed by May next year, and progress updates will be available on this site.