Working papers and correspondence

Scope and Content

An extensive body of material generated and accumulated during Strachan's work on numerous projects and publications. The papers are wide-ranging in their subject matter, reflecting Strachan's many interests. Some of his major published works are represented, including Towards sculpture, Open air sculpture in Britain, Henry Moore: animals, A relationship with Henry Moore and Towards the lost domain. Papers relating to these publications include a mixture of correspondence (both research correspondence and letters relating to the fundraising, printing and publication process), research notes, drafts, proofs and background material. There are also numerous drafts of Strachan's memoirs which he was working on during the final years of his life, and which were ultimately published posthumously as Only connect... in 2005; this material (listed at WJS/18/5) therefore includes some papers which post-date Strachan's death in 1994. There is also some similar material (primarily typescript drafts, but also in some cases research notes, proofs and correspondence) relating to some of Strachan's essays on a wide range of subjects (particularly aspects of sculpture), and short stories he translated from Italian and French. One essay on the work of Nancy Cunard is also represented, along with photocopies of letters and poems by Cunard, the originals of which are held at Dorset County Museum.

Reflecting Strachan's extensive work on the livre d'artiste, there is a grouping of material relating to his gift of livres d'artiste to the Taylor Institution, Oxford, including drafts of content for the catalogue of the collection.

In addition, there are papers relating to a number of projects Strachan initiated or became involved with, which did not ultimately see publication. These include a book on 'Distortion and obsession in art' which was not published because an American publisher could not be found; however, Strachan undertook extensive research for the volume and produced a full draft of the text (included here). There are also papers relating to a number of other works which were not ultimately published, namely: an anthology of poems reflecting the response of poets to paintings which Strachan was co-editing with Eve Herring in the 1940s; Strachan's translation of Jurgis Baltrušaitis's Le Moyen Age fantastique as The fantastic Middle Ages in the mid-1970s; and a monograph on the work of Wendy Taylor he hoped to write in the 1980s.

There is also a body of correspondence and papers relating to lectures given by Strachan over a lengthy period - principally to the National Association of Decorative and Fine Arts Societies on a range of topics - and to exhibitions which included material from his personal collection.

Among the papers in this series are letters from a number of well-known artists, sculptors and others, including Kenneth Armitage, Ida Barbarigo, André Beaudin, Elisabeth Frink, David Hockney, Roy Kitchin, Pierre Lecuire, Keith McCarter, Victor Pasmore, Roland Penrose, Mario Prassinos, C.P. Snow, Wendy Taylor and Paul Wunderlich.


Arrangement is largely based on Geoffrey Strachan's classification of the material; the papers have been divided into 13 subseries as follows:

  • /1 Papers relating to Strachan's work on sculpture
  • /2 Papers relating to Henry Moore
  • /3 Papers relating to Towards the lost domain
  • /4 Papers relating to the livre d'artiste
  • /5 Papers relating to Strachan's memoirs
  • /6 Papers relating to fiction translated by Strachan
  • /7 Papers relating to 'Distortion and obsession in art'
  • /8 Papers relating to 'The fantastic Middle Ages'
  • /9 Papers relating to 'Poets and painters' project
  • /10 Papers relating to Wendy Taylor project
  • /11 Papers relating to Nancy Cunard
  • /12 Papers relating to lectures and exhibitions
  • /13 Papers relating to articles written or translated by Strachan

Appraisal Information

Some material in this series has been subject to appraisal, primarily notes and early drafts of published material by Strachan.