Substantial groups of correspondence with Walter Strachan

Scope and Content

A series of correspondence between Walter Strachan and 13 sculptors, artists and writers. This was designated by Geoffrey Strachan as substantial correspondence, either because of the standing of the correspondents concerned, the quantity of correspondence included, or the importance of the individuals to Walter Strachan and his work. Significant British sculptors represented include William Armitage, Ralph Brown and Elisabeth Frink; much of their correspondence relates to the inclusion of their work in Strachan's series on sculptor's drawings for the Connoisseur in the 1970s, and in his 1976 publication, Towards sculpture: maquettes and sketches from Rodin to Oldenburgh; Strachan visited many of the sculptors represented in this book to talk to them and view their work in progress - and arrangements for this are discussed in the letters. Some of the correspondence also relates to Strachan's later work, Open air sculpture in Britain (1984). In some letters, sculptors discuss their own influences and artistic development, as well as reflecting on art generally and the work of other artists. There is also some representation of foreign sculptors here - including letters Strachan exchanged with André Lhote, whose influential treatises on landscape and figure painting he translated for publication in 1948 and 1950.

A number of significant writers are represented, including foreign writers whose work Strachan translated, such as Julien Gracq and Vera Cacciatore; the correspondence of the latter in particular provides an interesting insight into the relationship between writer and translator. There are also letters from British writers such as Nancy Cunard, Cecily Mackworth and Sylvia Townsend Warner (although the latter's correspondence is in photocopied form only). These letters contain much discussion of modern French poetry and Strachan's work on translating the work of contemporary French writers, as well as responses to his own original poetry. It is also invaluable for anyone interested in the life and work of the writers represented - including as it does discussions of their activities, current writing and views on politics and current affairs, particularly during the 1940s-50s.

The most extensive series of letters comes from the artist Percy Horton, and documents his 40-year friendship with Strachan; his letters contain numerous pen and ink sketches, and their subject matter is wide-ranging: he discusses not only his own work and that of Strachan, but also comments on work by other artists and writers, politics, current affairs, cultural life at home and abroad, and his acquaintance with other significant artists and writers.

While the majority of the correspondence included in this series was carried out by Walter Strachan himself, some papers were added to the files by Geoffrey Strachan after his father's death.


Arrangement largely follows Geoffrey Strachan's organization of the material, which is alphabetical by name of correspondent, and chronological within each file.

Access Information

Some of the material in this series (mostly photocopies and transcripts of letters, including the entire Townsend Warner file), is closed for copyright reasons.