Correspondence of Selwyn Jepson

Scope and Content

The correspondence (1950 to 1980) from Selwyn Jepson to Graves, and increasingly, as time passes, to Beryl Graves, reflects the intimate role played by Jepson in Graves's business and personal life. Jepson acted as Graves's agent in a wide variety of situations, advising on dealings with publishers, with Forrest Judd in the matter of 'The World's Delight' film project (c1952), with A.P. Watt, with Bertram Rota, on copyright, on financial matters, and in the sale of Graves's manuscripts with a shrewd eye to protecting their long-term value. He also handled the complex sale of Graves's letters to Aemelia Laraçuen (1968-1969), and letters from Winston Churchill (1973) and Siegfried Sassoon (1975). Jepson's letters occasionally offer strategic advice on Graves's literary career, and even on handling dialogue, for the novel 'Homer's Daughter' (1954). The production of 'Seventeen Poems Missing from "Love Respelt"' (1966) and 'Colophon to "Love Respelt"' (1967) seems to have been in large part coordinated by Jepson; he attempted to turn Graves's "scholarship" on St Paul into a play (1971); and he advised on the content of 'At the Gate' (1974) and worked on the proofs. He also handled Bill Ellis's photographs of Graves, Ellis being a mutual friend. The trust placed in Jepson as a source of common sense advice and practical support was such that he acted in a sort of loco parentis for Tomas Graves when he attended Bedales school (1963-1971), near the Jepsons' house in Liss, Hampshire. This was a role that he seemed to have played informally at various times for other of Graves's children, offering friendship, advice and support to Jenny Nicholson and her husband Alex Clifford, Catherine Dalton, and William and Juan Graves; and advising on the education of the children of Sam Graves. Jepson writes a little about his own work, giving updates on developments in the plots of his detective novels, and some details of his involvement in the musicial of Max Beerbohm's 'Zuleika Dobson', designed by Osbert Lancaster (1957): he warns Graves of the pitfalls of this genre at the time of the 'Solomon and Sheba' project (1959). Correspondence from Tania Jepson to Graves comprises seven letters (1958 to 1966) and to Beryl Graves twenty-three letters (1960 to 1973). As well as showing her interest in Graves family news and the practical matters of the Jepsons' visits to Deyá, her letters give her perspective on such events as the Foyle lunch in Graves's honour in 1960, an Oxford lecture by Graves which she attended in 1962, and the performance at the Mermaid Theatre in 1966. Like her husband, Tania Jepson refers occasionally to their friend Alec Guinness in both a social and professional context. The bundle also contains a photocopy of a letter from Graves to Jepson (16 November 1959), a copy letter from Bertram Rota to Jepson (19 September 1972), and one letter from Timothy Landfield, Jepson's grandson, to Beryl Graves (21 September 1989).


The file was originally arranged in chronological order by correspondent, and this order has been maintained with occasional corrections to the chronology. A later hand has added speculative dates to some undated letters; these may not always be correct.


Canelluñ Collection number: CC0436

This refers to the arrangement of the papers in Robert Graves’ study before they were transferred to the College.

Appraisal Information

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Custodial History

Document headed 'Judd', placed here during cataloguing, was found in a ring binder containing the correspondence of Will Price and assorted correspondence mainly concerned with 'The World's Delight' film project. See RG/J/PriceW for further information. Photocopy letter from Graves to Jepson arrived in box 24, placed here during cataloguing.

Geographical Names