Poetry at Beinecke Library

David Gascoyne Collection

Posted in Beinecke Collections by beineckepoetry on August 31, 2007


Several new accessions to the David Gascoyne Collection (GEN MSS 529) are now processed and available for use. The new accessions, acquired by gift and purchase from various sources, comprise a substantial literary archive documenting Gascoyne’s writings and longstanding relationship with Enitharmon Press.

The poet and translator David Emery Gascoyne was born October 10, 1916 in Harrow, England and died November 25, 2001. His early career was characterized by a precocious energy that produced two volumes of poetry (Roman Balcony and Other Poems, 1932 and Man’s Life is This Meat, 1936), a novel (Opening Day, 1933) and a critical survey (A Short Survey of Surrealism, 1935) by the time he was twenty. He became one of the leading representatives of British Surrealism and was an important liaison between French and British circles. His diaries from the late 1930s are particularly well known and provide an excellent picture of the Parisian avant-garde on the brink of the Second World War.

Gascoyne published several volumes of poetry in his early productive stage, but after 1956 he published little new poetry. His later work focused on lectures and appearances, essays, reviews, translations and the publication of his journals. His most critically acclaimed later works include Night Thoughts and The Sun at Midnight. He also had a long-standing relationship with Enitharmon Press, founded in 1967 by Alan Clodd, which resulted in numerous publications.

Gascoyne’s intense poetic sensitivity (often characterized as visionary or mystical) was tempered by severe depression and he devoted many years to recovery. It was during a stay at a hospital on the Isle of Wight that he met Judy Tyler Lewis, whom he married in 1975. He had four stepchildren.


The The David Gascoyne Collection spans most of the writer’s career, from 1945 onward. Materials in the collection include correspondence, notebooks and journals, sound recordings, original artwork, and typescripts. Gascoyne’s notebooks contain diverse writings including notes and drafts for correspondence, prose, poetic writing, and lists (which are often bibliographic). In addition to traditional literary genres, Gascoyne’s works include collections of found images and writings. (LC)

A description of the collection can be found on line: David Gascoyne Collection. Related materials in the Beinecke Collections can be found by searching the Finding Aid Database; recently acquired materials may be found in the Uncataloged Acquisitions Database. David Gascoyne’s published work can be located by searching Orbis, the library catalog.

Image: From the David Gascoyne Collection (GEN MSS 529)

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