The literary archive of Richard Lawson Gales

Scope and Content

This archive consists of the papers of the Reverand Richard Lawson Gales (1862-1927). Gales, later a priest, poet and folklorist, was the son of Richard Smith of Litlehampton in Sussex and matriculated at Lincoln College, Oxford in October 1884 at the quite advanced age of almost 22. Though his academic career was apparently undistinguished it was made notable by the fact that he won the Newdigate Prize in 1886. The rest of Gales' life was quiet and uneventful: he took holy orders in 1887, spent some years as Vicar of Wanborough near Guildford, Surrey and in 1909 was appointed Vicar of Gedney where he spent the rest of his life. He never married and died the day before his 65th birthday on Boxing Day 1927.

Gales was known to his contemporaries mainly for his contributions to magazines - typically from a Christian perspective and about rural life, languages, customs and devotions of the poor. Among the periodicals that accepted his poetry and prose were the British Review, the Nation, the Vineyard, the Oxford and Cambridge Review and the Westminster Gazette. Although Gales considered himself a friend of the poor, his acquaintances stretched far up the social ladder: 'Ballads and Carols' (1916) is dedicated to Margot Asquith, wife of the Prime Minister.

Gale's literary archive contains a substantial amount of his prose, poetry and occasional sermon - mostly in manuscript. The prose vastly outweighs the poetry in sheer quantity. The handwriting is generally consistent and legible. As noted by Anthony C. Deane that Gales' manuscripts are nearly all written in ink in a regular hand on stiff white paper folded once. Some of the poem manuscripts contain corrections and emendations. There is also a great deal of duplicates - mostly of the poetry but also some prose. Most of the archive is loose-leaf with the exception of a notebook and the 1930 published edition of 'Selected Poems'. The majority of the archive has been, at least partially, published in his lifetime but the numerous poems and essays that cannot be traced to a periodical or volume of poetry is likely to be so far unpublished (at least outside contemporary periodicals).

GB: French and german folk songs