Jack Clemo: letters to Victor Perry

Scope and Content

Typed letters from Jack Clemo to Victor Perry, who reviewed some of Clemo's work and compiled a bibliography on the poet during his diploma course in librarianship. Victor Perry regularly visited the Clemo couple with whom he corresponded for more than 20 years.

The letters provide an insight in the poet's work and bibliography. The making of, editions, revisions and reception of his poems and work are discussed including some of the underlying Christian themes and beliefs. Jack Clemo collected and contributed news cuttings, information and regular updates of reviews, articles, TV and radio programmes, interviews, books and broadcasts to Victor Perry, helping him in the compilation of his bibliography. The making of a BBC drama documentary film of Clemo's life, directed by Norman Stone is also mentioned in the 1979-1980 letters.

A picture of the poet's everyday life emerges from the personal letters, spanning from the times the couple lived at Goonamarris, St Austell, Cornwall to the times they finally moved to Rodwell, Weymouth, Dorset in 1984, having spent many holidays there. The letters contain references to various journeys which were sources of inspiration for Clemo's poems: Torquay and Dartmoor in Devon, Wales, Lake District, Merseyside and Venice, Italy.

Administrative / Biographical History

Reginald John 'Jack' Clemo (1916-1994), poet, was born in Cornwall and lived there for many years until he moved to Weymouth in 1984. As a child he experienced two periods of complete blindness, and he left school at the age of twelve. He began to write at the end of his schooldays, but for many years his only vehicle for publishing his verse and stories was a local newspaper. In 1948 he published a novel, 'Wilding Graft'. This was followed in 1949 by an autobiography, 'Confession of a Rebel', and in 1951 by his first volume of poetry, 'The Clay Verge'. Further volumes of poetry in 1961 'The Map of Clay', and in 1967 'Cactus on Carmel', furthered his reputation as a poet. He published a theological volume, 'The Invading Gospel' in 1958. By 1955 he was totally blind; although periodically he was able to hear music faintly, he could never again recognise speech. His later works include 'The Echoing Tip' (1971) and 'Broad Autumn' (1975). He was awarded a Civil List Pension in 1961 in recognition of his literary achievements. In 1981 he was awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of Exeter. In 1968 he married Ruth Peaty (1923-2007), a laundry worker from Weymouth.



Conditions Governing Access

Usual EUL conditions apply.

Other Finding Aids


Archivist's Note

Description compiled by Angela Mandrioli, January 2013

Conditions Governing Use

Usual EUL restrictions apply.

Related Material

Victor Perry's letters to Jack and Ruth Clemo and his Clemo's bibliography are also held here at Special Collections [EUL MS 68/PERS/1/2/20] with EUL MS 68 Jack Clemo literary and personal papers and EUL MS 395 Eveline Clemo's booklet. Wheal Martyn China Clay Museum holds manuscripts and printed material. Some related papers are also held at Trethosa Methodist Chapel, Cornwall.