Papers of Gavin Ewart

Scope and Content

These papers comprise correspondence about the purchases; worksheets of poems; typescripts and carbon-copies of poems; 1 photograph of Gavin Ewart in 1950 and 3 photographs of Gavin Ewart with Philip Larkin in 1979; photocopied extracts of Ewart's poems in the London Magazine June 1980; one interview with Ewart; some letters to the press circa 1981; some manuscript prose and files of personal and professional correspondence.

The worksheets in more detail are as follows: there are worksheets of poems such as 'True Love' and 'The Gentle Sex' which have appeared in newspapers (The Guardian, 14 February 1975 and The Observer, 9 February 1975 respectively) and worksheets for the following published collections of poems - Be my guest (1975), No fool like an old fool (1976), The first eleven (1977) (for which there is also one copy of the published work), Or where a young penguin lies screaming (1978), All my little ones (1978) (for which there are also worksheets of poems not used). There are several hundred worksheets of poems which post-date these published collections. Prose worksheets include A fine romance, Her dream come true, London's buildings, and Dawn must break. There are two galley proofs of The deceptive grin of the gravel porters (1968).

The files of correspondence begin in 1945 and correspondents include Kingsley Amis, John Betjeman, Robert Conquest, Roy Fuller, Christopher Logue, Philip Larkin, C P Snow, John Gardiner, Marghanita Laski, Harry Chambers, Charles Osborne, Peter Porter, Anthony Rota, George Macbeth, Richard Boston, Lincoln Kirstein, Alan Ross, Sam Wanamaker, Douglas Dunn, Anthony Thwaite and Fleur Adcock. The correspondence also contains typescripts of Ewart's poems such as 'The magic lolly' and 'The dream of the horses'.

Administrative / Biographical History

Gavin Buchanan Ewart was born in 1916 in London. He attended Wellesley House School and Wellington College in Berkshire until 1933. By the age of fourteen he had written several short plays and he contributed poetry to the Wellington Year Book, and also Out of Bounds, the magazine edited by his Wellington contemporaries Esmond and Giles Romilly. Ewart's first published poems appeared at the age of 17 in Geoffrey Grigson's New Verse of 1933. From 1934 he attended Christ's College, Cambridge to study classics, but later changed to English. He was literary editor of Granta for 1936-7, and after graduating worked for several authors and publishers before the Fortune Press published his Poems and Songs in 1939.

The outbreak of the Second World War stalled his progress as a poet and he served in the Royal Artillery from 1940 to 1946. After the war he worked for the British Council from 1946 to 1952, and then as a copywriter in advertising until 1971, when he became a full-time freelance writer.

Although several of his poems were published in periodicals, his first publication since the war was "Londoners" of 1964. After being made redundant from his day job, a brief and unsuccessful period as a school teacher followed. However, receiving the Cholmondeley award for Poetry in 1971 strengthened his confidence and he resolved to make his living from poetry. His output increased dramatically and from then he produced many collections, which included "The Gavin Ewart Show" (1971), "No Fool like an Old Fool" (1976), "All My Little Ones" (1978), "The Ewart Quarto" (1984), and "Penultimate Poems" (1989). "The Collected Ewart: 1933-1980" (1980) was supplemented in 1991 by "Collected Poems: 1980-1990".

He was elected chairman of the Poetry Society in 1978-9 and meanwhile as an editor he produced numerous anthologies, including the "Penguin Book of Light Verse" (1980). He became a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 1981 and was the 1991 recipient of the Michael Braude Award for Light Verse, though at his heart was serious poetry. He died in London on 23 October 1995 from prostate cancer.

Access Information

Access will be granted to any accredited reader

Custodial History

Purchased from Gavin Ewart, 57 Kenilworth Court, Lower Richmond Road, London, SW15 1EN in seven lots between 1976 and 1982.

Related Material

U DP/198 Letters of Philip Larkin and Gavin Ewart

U DP/162 Archives of the Poetry Magazine Phoenix and the Peterloo Poets series

U DSG Papers of Howard Sergeant, including the Archives of 'Outposts' poetry magazine

Other repositories:

National Library of Scotland, Manuscripts Collections


"Civil Humor: the Poetry of Gavin Ewart" by Stephen W. Delchamps (Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 2002)