Monday, 7 April 2008

More typescripts and Edmund Blunden

Since returning to the archive after a brief break over Easter I have resumed wok on the typescripts.  One of the frustrations of the archive is that, when compiling his 1954 Hutchinson collection of poems, Edmund Blunden sifted through typescripts and removed what he wanted, making a note on the title pages of those poems he had taken.  A few of these typescripts would be the only source for some of poems in the archive, but they aren't to be found amongst the folders of typescripts.  

During the collation of the set of typescripts identified by George Walter as being the volume '80 Poems or So' I was interested to see that some of the missing typescripts in the double set (a carbon copy having been made by the typist) appeared in Blunden in different versions.  Since one copy of the double set was given to Gurney, many of which were revised or corrected, I had thought that Blunden had perhaps removed that revised version.  This spurred me on to try and locate the original typescript submitted by Blunden to Hutchinson, in the hope that I could confirm whether or not this could be the case.  

Hutchinson is now part of Random House, and so I made a telephone call to their office and spoke to the archives department (who were glad to receive a phone call - apparently an unusual occurrence!).  The assistant archivist was enormously helpful, and although they couldn't immediately be sure of finding it, various avenues of enquiry were launched.  

Returning to the archive today, I was looking through the stack with my supervisor and co-editor, Tim Kendall.  One of the boxes opened at random was one containing correspondence regarding Leonard Clark's 1973 edition of Gurney's poems, labelled 'Leonard Clark Bequest'. Previously I had found in this collection three bundles of typescripts which were those prepared for his book, and I had taken these hoping that it might yield the missing typescripts. When today Tim Kendall plucked a similar typescript out of the collection I presumed it to be another working copy.  However, back in the office a brief inspection revealed it to be the Blunden, containing many of the missing typescripts!  Unfortunately, not all were there, as he also removed a number of poems that didn't make it into the collection.  These may be in the Blunden collections in Columbia, Iowa, Texas or Worcester College Oxford -- or maybe not. The afternoon was spent making a careful note of the contents of the bundle and, after a brief telephone call to one of the Trustees confirming that it was right to do so, returning the typescripts to their rightful place for the first time since May 1951.  Alas, the typescripts from '80 Poems or So' I thought might be those containing Gurney's manuscript revisions were not those I hoped for, so the question of which version of the poems are the latter remains to be resolved.  

I feel sorry to have bothered the archivists at Random House, but the correspondence between publisher and editor may be of interest, should one be allowed to see it.  

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