Bundle of correspondence and papers

  • This material is held at
  • Reference
      GB 133 WJS/1/4
  • Dates of Creation
      [1945]-27 Aug 1980 and n.d.
  • Language of Material
      Includes a small amount of material in French
  • Physical Description
      108 pieces  Some of the original Cunard letters are damaged and others are very fragile
  • Direct Link

Scope and Content

Correspondence with and papers relating to Nancy Clara Cunard (1896–1965), British poet and political activist. This includes: 27 original letters from, or notes written by, Cunard (largely undated, often dashed off very quickly in pencil, some of them incomplete); 14 original postcards from Cunard; 11 photocopies of letters and postcards from Cunard; 19 typescript transcripts of letters and postcards from Cunard made by Strachan (in some case originals or photocopies of the same letters are also included); and two Cunard letters in proof (dated 12 and 29 December 1944, prepared for inclusion in The living curve, the 1984 volume of letters to Strachan).

A major topic of the Cunard correspondence (which broadly spans the period from 1946 to February 1965, a month before Cunard's death) is Strachan's work on his anthology, Apollinaire to Aragon: thirty modern French poets (1948), for which Cunard offered assistance and advice. There are references to: attempts to obtain copyright permission from Louis Aragon for the inclusion of his poems in the anthology; Cunard's recommendations of other poets whose work Strachan might consider, and contact details supplied by Cunard for some of the poets he hoped to include (those mentioned include Benjamin Fondane, Jacques Prévert, Claude Roy, Pierre Emmanuel, Roger Moline, Paul Éluard and St John Perse).

Other topics referred to in the Cunard correspondence include: the political situation in Spain; Strachan's poem 'The Cosmic View'; information supplied by Cunard about Aragon's life and work; the possibility of putting Strachan in touch with Tristan Tzara, and a planned visit to London by Tzara [in the late 1940s]; advice sought from Strachan by Cunard about selling some of her books, and publishing a translation of a Spanish play she has produced; a piece on [André] Malraux by Janet Flanner in the New Yorker; Emile Dutilh, a teacher and friend of Cunard; her travels, particularly to Italy; Arthur Johnston, an English Lawyer in Capri, who was a great friend of Guillaume Apollinaire and who Cunard is keen should see Strachan's Apollinaire to Aragon; Dr James Ivy, an African American whom Cunard hopes Strachan will meet when Ivy visits London for the first time in the early 1950s; a letter of introduction for Spanish Republican poet and dramatist, Antonio Aparicio; Cunard's response to Strachan's Ici Paris; Henry Moore, whom Cunard first met through Strachan; Cunard's interest in African ivories; her friend Géraldine Balayé, whom Strachan helped with information about Robert Louis Stevenson; Strachan's Modern Italian stories; Cunard's work on George Moore [for G.M.: memories of George Moore (1956)] and Norman Douglas [for Grand man: memories of Norman Douglas (1954)]; her portrait by Álvaro ("Chili") Guevara; her response to The little world of the past (1962), Strachan's translation of Antonio Fogazzaro's Piccolo mondo antico; a 'ringstone' Cunard has found in France and arrangements for conveying this to Henry Moore; and Cunard's thoughts on poetic metre, and the way she was taught poetry at school.

There is also some correspondence between Strachan and others relating to Cunard, including: three letters to Strachan from Hugh Ford and one copy letter from Strachan to Ford, largely relating to Ford's memorial volume for Cunard (see below); a letter from Joan Murphy; a letter from Morris Gilbert; a letter from Michael McManus; two letters from Géraldine Balayé and one copy letter from Strachan to Balayé; two letters from Louise Morgan; two letters from E.H. Thorne (one of which is to Cunard); a copy letter from Strachan to Tristan Tzara, largely relating to Strachan's work on the livre d'artiste and the possibility of using samples of Tzara's illustrated work in a forthcoming exhibition; a copy letter to William Maxwell; and letters from two unidentified correspondents.

Other papers in the file include: two photographs of Nancy Cunard's 'Ring Stone' (/66-67); photocopy of a typescript sequence from a long poem, The Visions, that Cunard was working on at the end of her life, dedicated in pencil by Cunard to Valentine [Ackland] and dated December 1964 (/71); galley proof of an article by Strachan entitled 'Nancy Cunard and Henry Moore', for the Contemporary Review (/75); photocopy of Strachan's contribution to Nancy Cunard: brave poet, indomitable rebel, 1896-1965, ed. Hugh Ford, and a photocopy of part of Henry Moore's contribution to the same volume (/80); photocopy of an article by Nancy Cunard, 'The Hours Press: retrospect, catalogue, commentary', published in The Book Collector (Winter 1964), inscribed by Cunard to Strachan (/83); typescript poem by Cunard, 'To Eat Today (Sept. 13, 1938)', published in the New Statesman (October 1938), with annotation by Cunard (/85); carbon typescript of an article by Cunard, 'Central Pyranean Frontier (Report on conditions in Spain today)', July 1946 [Geoffrey Strachan notes that this may have been written for the review, Our Time] (/86); and a typescript draft of an article by Strachan, 'The Nancy Cunard I knew', for inclusion in his memoirs, some of which was used in Only connect...(/102). There are also some rough notes and empty envelopes.

Arrangement

The Cunard material was stored in two folders by Geoffrey Strachan, with one loose letter included as an addenda to the archive at a later date. Within each folder, he had attempted to arrange material chronologically, although many of the letters are undated, and the two sequences overlap in date. Rather than attempt to merge the contents of each file into one single chronological sequence, here the contents of the first folder are listed as /1-85 and the contents of the second folder, with addendum, as /86-108.

Conditions Governing Access

The photocopies and transcripts of letters are closed, unless they have been reproduced or substantially quoted in either The living curve or Only connect.... The copy extract from The Visions, and the copy article by Cunard are also closed. Closed material is as follows: WJS/1/4/6-7, 17-20, 25-6, 28, 30, 32-3, 35, 42, 44, 46-7, 49-50, 53-4, 61-4, 68, 71 and 83.

Related Material

There are photocopies of 23 letters from Cunard to Valentine Ackland at WJS/18/11, although these are closed for copyright reasons.