Ruth Manning-Sanders autograph letter to Charles Lahr

Scope and Content

This manuscript letter is addressed to bookseller and publisher Charles Lahr, reflecting on the state of the economy in the mid 1930s and its effect on the book industry. She begins by thanking him for the books recently sent, and sympathises with the state of business. She is interested to hear that his children will be christened Catholic, and wonders on what basis. She recommends Moysheh Oyved's 'Book of Affinity'. Finally, she asks if he might get her a book she has head of, '"Italy on £10" or such like', as she and her daughter, Joan, are determined to go in spite of not really being able to afford it – and maybe the book will help with that. The parlous state of the economy, and its effect on Lahr's bookshop had notable consequences in the year following this letter, for he was convicted of receiving stolen books, and sentenced to six months imprisonment. His acquaintance with Manning-Sanders dates from at least the beginning of the decade – his Blue Moon Press published her poem 'Illuminated Texts' at Christmas 1931.

Administrative / Biographical History

Ruth Manning-Sanders was a Welsh-born English poet and author. She was well known for a series of children's books in which she collected and related fairy tales from all over the world. All told, she published more than 90 books during her lifetime. Née Ruth Vernon Manning, she was the youngest of three daughters of John Manning, an English Unitarian minister. She was born in Swansea, Wales, but the family moved to Cheshire when she was three. As a child, she took a wide interest in reading books. She and her two sisters wrote and acted in their own plays.
Manning studied English literature and Shakespearean studies at Manchester University, and married the English artist George Sanders in 1911, when they both changed their names to Manning-Sanders. They had two children.
After the Second World War and her husband's accidental death in 1953, Manning-Sanders took to publishing dozens of fairy-tale anthologies, mostly during the 1960s and 1970s. While many of Manning-Sanders's tales are not commonly known, she includes stories about more famous figures such Hansel and Gretel, Robin Hood and Aladdin.
She was a poet and novelist, notably in the years up to World War II. At least two of her early poetry collections – Karn and Martha Wish-You-Ill – were published by the Hogarth Press run by Leonard and Virginia Woolf. She won the Blindman International Poetry Prize in 1926 for The City, and was for a time a protegée of the English author Walter de la Mare, who spent at least one holiday with the Manning-Sanders family in Cornwall. While living in Sennen, Cornwall, Manning-Sanders was for a time a neighbour of the British writer Mary Butts. Manning-Sanders died in 1988 in Penzance, England.

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Archivist's Note

Catalogue entry by AM Williamson, 2022-03-02