Correspondence of Alston Anderson

Scope and Content

Alston Anderson was an aspiring American writer, of Jamaican parentage, when he first began his correspondence with Graves in 1953. He went on to publish a volume of short stories, 'Lover Man' (1959) and a novel, 'All God's Children' (1965). Further biographical information can be found in items 37 to 39, sent to assist Graves in writing the foreword to 'Lover Man'. Anderson's correspondence - variously from Paris, the artists' colony at Yaddo, Copenhagen, Deyá, New York and other parts of the US east coast - evokes the world of the struggling artist, with constantly changing addresses, financial crises and disappointments with publishers. Graves was one of several to lend money to Anderson and for several years he appears to have been under the patronage of Marshall Allen [perhaps the jazz musician of the same name]. Anderson writes to Graves about the progress of his novels and short stories, and gives his views about Graves's work. He can be critical of Graves's work, but greatly admired 'The White Goddess' and 'The Nazarene Gospel Restored'. The letters also discuss jazz, poetry, women, black American language and Biblical puzzles. Mutual acquaintances met in Deyá and often re-met in New York are discussed, including: Alastair and Jean Reid, Ruthven Todd, Len Lye, Janet and Martin Seymour-Smith, Margot Callas, Aemilia Laraçuen (Cindy Lee), Helen Morningstar and Grete Schon. Anderson was also clearly very fond of Beryl Graves and several letters are addressed to her. His experiences of alcoholism and drug taking are mentioned, and many letters are subsequently disavowed as having been written whilst intoxicated. The later correspondence frequently visits the theme of re-incarnation; it ends abruptly.


The file appeared to have been roughly arranged into chronological order, but with obvious misfilings and intermittent sections where the chronology ran in reverse. For clarity these sections and other anomalies have been re-ordered into the chronological sequence. An unsent letter from Graves, letters to Beryl Graves, and Alice Anderson's letters remain at the end of the file.


Canelluñ Collection number: CC0432

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