Alex Comfort Correspondence (Additional Papers)

Scope and Content

Letters to Alex Comfort from various correspondents concerning reviews of various works. Note that these items are additional to the main Alex Comfort archive, see ref: COMFORT.

Administrative / Biographical History

Born in London, 1920; educated at Highgate School, Trinity College Cambridge (Robert Styring Scholar, Classics, and Senior Scholar, Natural Sciences), and the London Hospital (Scholar); visited Buenos Aires and West Africa, 1936; refused military service in World War Two, 1939-1945; 1st Class Natural Science Tripos, Part I, 1940; 2nd Class Natural Science Tripos, 1st Division (Pathology), 1941; BA, 1943; married Ruth Muriel Harris, 1943; Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery, Cambridge, 1944; Member of the Royal College of Surgeons and Licentiate, Royal College of Physicians, London, 1944; MA, Cambridge, 1945; Diploma in Child Health, London, 1945; one son, Nicholas, born, 1946; Lecturer in Physiology, London Hospital Medical College, 1948-1951; PhD in Biochemistry, London, 1949; Honorary Research Associate, Department of Zoology, University College London, 1951-1973; DSc in Gerontology, London, 1963; Director of Research in Gerontology, Zoology Department, University College London, 1966-1973; President, British Society for Research on Ageing, 1967; first marriage dissolved and married Jane Tristram Henderson (d 1991), 1973; Clinical Lecturer, Department of Psychiatry, Stanford University, 1974-1983; Professor, Department of Pathology, University of California School of Medicine, Irvine, 1976-1978; Consultant psychiatrist, Brentwood VA Hospital, Los Angeles, 1978-1981; Adjunct Professor, Neuropsychiatric Institute, University of California at Los Angeles, from 1980; Consultant, Ventura County Hospital (Medical Education), from 1981; member of the Royal Society of Medicine; member of the American Psychiatric Association; a prolific author, best known for books on sexual behaviour - in which he advocated greater sexual freedom, including the bestselling and widely translated 'The Joy of Sex' and its sequels - but wrote on a diverse range of subjects; an anarchist, and published works on anarchy; a pacifist, and active in the movement for nuclear disarmament; died in Banbury, Oxfordshire, 2000.

Publications include:

Fiction: 'No Such Liberty' (1941); 'The Almond Tree' (1943); 'The Powerhouse' (1944); 'Letters from an Outpost' (1947); 'On This Side Nothing' (1949); 'A Giant's Strength' (1952); 'Come Out to Play ' (1961); 'Tetrarch' (1980); 'Imperial Patient' (1987); 'The Philosophers' (1989).

Poetry: 'France and Other Poems' (1942); 'A Wreath for the Living' (1943); 'Elegies' (1944); 'The Song of Lazarus' (USA, 1945); 'The Signal to Engage' (1947); 'And All But He Departed' (1951); 'Haste to the Wedding' (1961); 'Poems' (1979); 'Mikrokosmos' (1994).

Plays: 'Into Egypt' (1942); 'Cities of the Plain' (1943); 'Gengulphus' (1948).

Songs: 'Are You Sitting Comfortably?' (1962).

Non-fiction: 'The Silver River' (1938); 'Art and Social Responsibility' (1946); 'First Year Physiological Technique' (1948); 'The Novel and Our Time' (1948); 'Barbarism and Sexual Freedom' (1948); 'Sexual Behaviour in Society' (1950); 'The Pattern of the Future' (1950); 'Authority and Delinquency in the Modern State' (1950); 'The Biology of Senescence' (1956); 'Darwin and the Naked Lady' (1961); 'Sex in Society' (1963); 'Ageing, the Biology of Senescence' (1964); 'The Process of Ageing' (1964); 'Nature and Human Nature' (1966); 'The Anxiety Makers' (1967); 'The Joy of Sex' (1972); 'More Joy' (1974); 'A Good Age' (1977); as editor, 'Sexual Consequences of Disability' (1978); 'I and That: Notes on the Biology of Religion' (1979); 'A practice of Geriatric Psychiatry' (1979); 'The Facts of Love' (1980); 'What is a Doctor?' (1980); 'Reality and Empathy' (1984); with Jane T Comfort, 'What about Alcohol?' (1983); 'The New Joy of Sex' (1991); 'Against Power and Death' (1994).

Translation: 'The Koka Shastra' (1964).

Access Information


The papers are available subject to the usual conditions of access to Archives and Manuscripts material, after the completion of a Reader's Undertaking.

Other Finding Aids

Collection level description.

Related Material

University College London Special Collections also holds the Comfort Papers (Ref: COMFORT); letters to Alex Comfort from Os and Margaret Marron, 1945-1946 (Ref: MS ADD 111); a letter from Hugh Harris, 1953, one from Robert Greacen, 1965, and one from Philip O'Connor, 1968 (Ref: MS ADD 160); a letter from A C Boyd and reply by Comfort, 1956 (Ref: MS ADD 195); a letter to Comfort from Herbert Read, 1943 (Ref: MS MISC 4R); galley proof of Robert Greacen's 'Even Without Irene', 1968, including a description of Comfort (Ref: MS MISC 5G); various fiction and non-fiction publications by Alex Comfort.

State University of New York College at Buffalo holds correspondence and literary papers.