Dymock Poets Special Collection Update

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  • Handwritten poetry and original letters of Edward Thomas, some unpublished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.

Cataloguing the Dymock Poets Special Collection begins!

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

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

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.

Gloucestershire Poets, Writers and Artists Collection

The GPWA Collection is an umbrella collection incorporating works and material of a literary or artistic nature relating to Gloucestershire.

Dymock Poets Special Collection 

On the north-west borders of Gloucestershire, in the years immediately prior to the outbreak of the First World War, a literary community was formed which came to represent a significant development in the modern poetic tradition.

By August 1914, the poet and playwright Lascelles Abercrombie, Wilfrid Gibson, and the Americal poet Robert Frost had all taken up residence in and around the village of Dymock. Inspired by the beauty of their surroundings and encouraged by a succession of visitors, including Rupert Brooke, John Drinkwater, Edward Thomas and Eleanor Farjeon, a new literary currency was established during that final summer before the outbreak of war.

Their writings represented a movement away from the prevailing literary idiom, regarded by many as rhetorically ornate and emotionally restricted. Instead the Dymock Poets sought inspiration in natural settings and everyday experiences. In this, and their desire for a more direct, authentic register, their work can be located within the traditions of Wordsworth and the principles set out in Lyrical Ballads.

It was a productive time for all concerned, with four issues of a periodical, New Numbers, being written and printed as a true cottage industry. This period was also to see the emergence of Edward Thomas as a gifted and prolific writer of verse and to lead to Robert Frost’s formation of a new poetic philosophy.

This brief idyll was to prove short lived. Within three years both Brooke and Thomas were dead, Frost had returned to North America, and Abercrombie, Drinkwater and Gibson were involved in war work. Their writings, however, continue to form and important literary legacy to this day.
The University of Gloucestershire established and houses a major research collection to promote interest in the work of the Dymock Poets and to provide an important resource for those engaged in cultural, historic and literary research. The collection is located within the Social Learning Zone at the University’s Francis Close Hall campus in Cheltenham. Full details of services and facilities on offer are available.

The collection contains:

  • Manuscripts and first editions of the writings of Lascelles Abercrombie
  • A comprehensive collection of the works of Edward Thomas, including original and facsimile correspondence
  • Works, photographs, and personal ephemera donated by the family of Wilfrid Gibson
  • Manuscripts, first editions, correspondence and personal effects of Eleanor Farjeon
  • Extensive collection of poetry by, and critical works of, Robert Frost
  • A major collection of the works of John Drinkwater
  • Works relating to other Gloucestershire and Herefordshire poets and fellow figures of the Georgian movement
  • Scholarly papers, journals and biographies
  • Newsletters, correspondence and publicity material from local and international literary societies
  • Multimedia resources, including audio, video and CD-ROM

U.A. Fanthorpe Collection 

U.A. Fanthorpe (1929-2009) was one of Britain’s most talented poets. Born in Kent and educated at St. Anne’s College, Oxford, and the University of London Institute of Education, U.A. went on to become Head of English at Cheltenham Ladies’ College. She left to train as a counsellor and was employed as a hospital clerk in Bristol. It was here she developed her poetry, publishing her first work entitled “Side Effects” in 1978. U.A. went on to write several volumes of poetry, culminating in “Collected Poems 1978-2003”, published by Peterloo Poets.

Between 1983 and 1985, U.A. was Writer in Residence at St. Martin’s College, Lancaster, before moving on to become Northern Arts Fellow at Durham and Newcastle. In 1994 U.A. was the first woman in 315 years to be nominated for the Professor of Poetry post at Oxford. In 1988 she was made a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and in 2001 given a CBE. U.A. also received the Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry in 2003, as well as holding honorary doctorates from the University of the West of England and the University of Gloucestershire. She lived with her partner Rosie Bailey, often the second voice within the poetry, in Gloucestershire.

U.A. Fanthorpe and Rosie Bailey deposited a collection of correspondence and related papers dating from 1976 to the present, including draft poems and ideas. The collection comprises several boxes which are currently in the process of being catalogued. Any requests for access must be made to Special Collections and Archives staff.

Whittington Press Collection 

The Whittington Press has been situated in a disused gardener’s cottage at Whittington Court since 1972. John and Rose Randle started the press initially as a weekend hobby, but it soon came to dominate their working lives. Since the publication of its first book, A Boy at the Hogarth Press, the Whittington Press has produced over 130 books, many designed and printed on commission. These books sit alongside posters, brochures and leaflets produced for a wide range of topics and occasions.

The one constant in the eclectic range of Whittington Press books remains the annual volume of Matrix, the acclaimed review of the activities of small presses around the world. We hold an up to date set of this publication.

The Whittington Press remains a true cottage industry combining the tasks of designer, publisher and printer under one roof to produce books of exquisite quality. In 2009 the Press was awarded the American Printing History Association (APHA) Institutional Award in recognition of the annual journal Matrix.

In recognition of the Press’s local roots the University of Gloucestershire has undertaken to collect material produced and published by the Whittington Press. The collection includes both volumes printed by the press and ephemeral items kindly donated by John and Rose Randle. The University is also committed to purchasing every new book produced by the press since 2001 onwards and to acquiring as many items as possible from the Press’s back catalogue. This collection builds further upon the University’s existing commitment to Gloucestershire literature in the form of the Dymock Poets Archive and Study Centre, and its sponsorship of the annual Laurie Lee Memorial Lecture at the Cheltenham Literature Festival.

For access to our catalogue holdings please see our Whittington Press Catalogue.

Also feel free to contact Special Collections and Archives staff or visit the Whittington Press website.

James Elroy Flecker Collection 

The Special Collections and Archives hold a number of works by and relating to James Elroy Flecker (1884-1915), English poet, playwright and novelist. These were donated by David Elyan.

Flecker was born in Lewisham, London on 5th November, 1884.  He was Christened Herman Elroy Flecker, but whilst at Oxford he came to dislike his foreign sounding name and adopted the name James instead.  He was the eldest son of the Rev. W. H. Flecker, first Headmaster of Dean Close School. At the age of two, James moved to the school with his family.  Following an early education at nurseries, kindergartens and a local preparatory school, James became one of his father’s pupils at the age of 9.  This was followed, at the age of 17, by 18 months at Uppingham.  Flecker then attended Trinity College Oxford (1906-1908), and also Caius College Cambridge (1908-1910), where he studied oriental languages in preparation for a consular career. Flecker was at Cambridge at the same time as Rupert Brooke, but the pair only met in literary circles.

In June 1910 he sailed from Marseilles to take up a minor consular post in Constantinople, where he was diagnosed with tuberculosis and had to return to England.  Following a period of convalescence, in March 1911 he returned to Constantinople.  On arrival he was sent to Smyrna.  Although he suffered a further bout of illness, he married Hellé Skiadaressi on 25 May 1911 in Athens. She was three years older than Flecker and her late father was a fashionable Athens doctor.  They had met on board ship during part of his first trip to Constantinople. The wedding was followed by three months sick leave from consular duties, during which the Fleckers stayed in Corfu.  Instead of returning to Smyrna, Flecker was ordered to Beirut to take up the post of acting Vice-Consul.  It was while there that Flecker got to know T.E. Lawrence.

In May 1913, following further bouts if illness a doctor ordered him to a Swiss Sanatorium. Being too unwell to attend a medical in London, Flecker resigned his Consulate post in May 1914.  During his time in Switzerland he continued to write and when too ill to write he would dictate to Hellé.  He died in Davos on 3 January 1915 and is buried in the Cheltenham Cemetery.  His grave is marked by a granite cross, inscribed with Flecker’s own words: “O Lord, restore his realm to the dreamer”.

Flecker’s best known works, the poem The Golden Journey to Samarkand and the play The Story of Hassan of Baghdad and How he came to Make the Golden Journey to Samarkand (1922 posthumously), portray the Middle Eastern influences present throughout his short adult life.

A list of holdings in the James Elroy Flecker collection can be found here.

The Cyder Press 

We house a collection of Occasional Papers, established by the Cheltenham and Gloucester College of Higher Education in the 1990s, which are booklets relating to the Dymock Poets forming part of the Dymock Poets Archive and Study Centre. These were a precursor to The Cyder Press, which was established by the Cheltenham and Gloucester College of Higher Education in 1998 with the aim of publishing out of print and little known works by the Dymock Poets. This has grown over the years to incorporate writers with regional, literary and period connections. We have a complete collection of Cyder Press publications and receive two copies of each new edition.

The Cyder Press also publishes the annual Laurie Lee Memorial Lecture, sponsored by the University at the Cheltenham Literature Festival.

Forest of Dean Sculpture Trail Archive

This collection charts the development of the sculpture trail at Beechenhurst Lodge in the Forest of Dean from its inception in 1986. It includes documents, books, maquettes, drawings, photographs, videos and ephemera. It encompasses organisational and administrative material, Trust documentation, correspondence and a range of artist works from the earliest to the most recent, as well as examples of other sculpture trails and exhibitions. The artists include David Nash, Patrick Dougherty, Auke de Vries, Carole Draper, Annie Cattrell, and Ian Hamilton-Finlay.

Further details about the Sculpture Trust and visitor information for the Sculpture Trail can be found on the Forest of Dean Sculpture Trust website. Information about the work of the Forestry Commission who maintain the trail on behalf of the Sculpture Trust can be found on their website.


Archive Item of the Month – December 2012

B13 – ‘Midwinter’ by Miriam Macgregor (Whittington Press, 2012)

This month’s archive item has a suitably wintery theme and is the latest accession to our Whittington Press Collection. Midwinter is a beautifully presented set of wood engravings by Whittington Press stalwart Miriam Macgregor.

The engravings depict snowy Cotswold scenes compiled by Miriam during the snowy winter of 2010-2011.

The edition is number 59 of 265 copies and is signed by the author.
In March 2013 the University of Gloucestershire will be launching the Imprint Printmaking Festival. There will be a talk by John Randle of the Whittington Press on Saturday 9th March 2013. The University Archives and Special Collections will be displaying items from our extensive Whittington Press Collection. Please contact archive staff for more information or check this blog nearer the time.
We would like to wish all our users a very merry Christmas and a happy and prosperous 2013.


Archive Item of the Month – January 2012

In amongst all the draft poems, correspondence and papers of the U.A. Fanthorpe can be found many items that at first wouldn’t seem relevant to a collection of papers belonging to a poet. On closer examination however, each item has its own unique place in the collection, often directly associated with several other items. They include magazines, newspapers, postcards, diaries, booklets and pictures and are tangible aspects of the wide ranging research that U.A. undertook when writing a poem.

One such example is the diary of Daniel Iles, a Gloucestershire farmer living in the late 1800s. This extract dates from January 1880 and gives details of the weather, jobs undertaken and events throughout the year. It was used by U.A, alongside material on Disraeli and Monet, during her research into the way that the extreme winter weather of 1879-1880 affected their lives.


The diary entries for January indicate that the weather was variable, with frosty, fine and stormy days and even one spell of snow that lasted all day until it was about 6 inches deep! The farmers had many jobs to do such as ploughing, feeding and moving the sheep and they travelled widely within the county – Coalpit Bottom, Upton, Sodbury and Horton are just some of the places mentioned that Daniel travelled to from Wotton-under-Edge.
Although it was the diary entries that were of interest for UA Fanthorpe’s research, it also includes many other sections of information which are now of interest from a historical view point, such as an Almanack for the year, a list of stamp duties, University term dates, postal charges and London cab fares.
For example, Friday 30th January was the last day for dog licensing and also the end of the partridge and pheasant shooting season, the Solicitor- General of Ireland was H. Holmes, Esq. and the fare for a two-wheeled London cab for any time not exceeding one hour was 2/6.


University Archives & Special Collections Reference: UAF/2/E/X/56

Further details on the U. A. Fanthorpe Collection can be found at:  http://insight.glos.ac.uk/departments/lis/archives/Pages/fanthorpe.aspx