Other correspondence with Walter Strachan

  • Reference
      GB 133 WJS/2
  • Dates of Creation
  • Physical Description
      11 subseries; 1,362 items

Scope and Content

This extensive series contains over 1,000 pieces of correspondence and spans a sixty-year period. It consists of letters exchanged between Strachan and a wide range of individuals from the UK and elsewhere who were active in many different creative fields; they include artists, writers, editors, publishers, translators, calligraphers, typographers, bookbinders, printers, tapestry artists and gallery curators. In some cases only single letters are included but in other cases there are longer exchanges of correspondence with the same individual over time; sometimes only in-letters are preserved, but Strachan also quite frequently retained carbon copies of his own outgoing letters so both sides of a correspondence is represented. The range of correspondents testifies to the breadth and diversity of Strachan's interests in the fields of art and literature. It also reflects the importance he placed on making direct contact with the artists and writers whose work he was researching, editing or translating, and a number of the individuals here became long-term correspondents and in some cases friends. Strachan's work on some of his major publications is well documented in this correspondence, including his research for and preparation of Towards sculpture (1976) and Open air sculpture in Britain (1984); there is also a grouping of letters written in response to the latter work on its publication. His work on the livre d'artiste is also reflected in correspondence relating to exhibitions and lectures, as well as enquiries which were directed to him as an authority on the subject. Poets whose work he translated for inclusion in Apollinaire to Aragon (1948) are well represented in WSJ/2/2, and there is also correspondence about his Italian translations. There is some discussion with correspondents about the inclusion of their letters to Strachan in The living curve (1984). While some letters are brief and relate to permissions requests or queries by Strachan, some are more personal and a number are revealing about the projects on which specific correspondents are engaged, and about their thoughts on aspects of art and literature.

Numerous significant individuals are represented in this correspondence. In the field of sculpture, there are letters from Henri-Georges Adams, Robert Adams, Reg Butler, Lynn Chadwick, Geoffrey Clarke, Robert Couturier, Barbara Hepworth, Jacques Lipchitz, Giacomo Manzú, Marino Marini, Frank Martin, Kenneth Martin, Bernard Meadows and Henry Moore. Other artists and printmakers represented include Leonard Baskin, Edward Bawden, Louis le Brocquy, Cecil Collins, Stephen Gooden, Joan Hassall, Seymour Lipton, F.E. McWilliam, John Northcote Nash and Michael Rothenstein. There is also correspondence with or relating to twelve of the French poets represented in Apollinaire to Aragon, including Francis Carco, Paul Claudel, Luc Estang, Henri Michaux, Léon Moussinac, Saint-Jean Perse, André Spire, and Tristan Tzara. Among British writers, there are bundles of correspondence between Strachan and Stevie Smith, Sylvia Townsend Warner and Irene Rathbone; other figures like Cecil Day-Lewis and Louis MacNeice are represented by one or two letters. There are also single letters from well-known individuals active in other fields - including the actors Glenda Jackson, Michael Redgrave and Ralph Richardson.

As well as original correspondence, numerous typescript transcripts of letters received by Strachan are also included; some of these are interspersed with the original correspondence, and there is also a separate grouping (WJS/2/11) made up entirely of transcripts. These were made by Strachan himself, either in preparation for inclusion in The living curve or for a planned sequel which was never published.


The letters in this large series are divided into 11 subseries, based on Geoffrey Strachan's divisions of the correspondence in his inventory of the archive. Arrangement is as follows:

  • /1 Correspondence with French, Italian, German and Austrian artists
  • /2 Correspondence with French and Italian writers and editors, and French literary publishers
  • /3 Correspondence with British, Irish and American artists
  • /4 Correspondence with British and Irish writers and translators
  • /5 Correspondence with calligraphers, typographers, bookbinders, printers and tapestry artists
  • /6 Correspondence with editors, publishers and representatives of galleries, museums and art organisations
  • /7 Correspondence with relatives and contacts of artists and writers
  • /8 Correspondence with other individuals of interest
  • /9 Letters relating to Open air sculpture in Britain
  • /10 Letters relating to livre d'artiste exhibitions
  • /11 Transcripts of letters to Strachan

Access Information

All of the transcripts of letters are closed for copyright reasons, apart from the transcripts of letters which were published in The living curve. Where copyright closures apply, this is stated at the relevant point in the catalogue.