Llewelyn Powys—a typescript of his letters

Llewellyn Powys picIn an undated ( but probably late 1980s ) catalogue numbered ‘25’ from the American dealer David J Holmes are some genuine literary treasures and possibly some bargains. Letters from Henry James, A. E. Housman, W. S. Gilbert, and Lewis Carroll, together with manuscripts from Washington Irving and Vita Sackville West stand out. But at a mere $1,500 the undoubted bargain on offer is the typescript created by Alyse Gregory, wife of the writer Llewelyn Powys, of some of his letters, 1900 – 38.

The letters begin when Powys was at Sherborne School and end a few months before his death in 1939 at the age of 55 from complications resulting from a stomach ulcer. As Holmes remarks, the typescript is a unique resource, since many of the letters were destroyed after the author’s death. However, his wife only selected the ones she considered worth publishing, which is a shame. The correspondents included his brother, the acclaimed novelist John Cowper Powys, A. R. Powys, Philippa Powys, Gertrude Powys and H. Rivers Pollock, a barrister, and show how avidly he followed the burgeoning literary career of his brother and also how his tuberculosis was a constant worry. For instance, in September 1915 he declared:

‘I am happy, yes, I am happy, but do not think if my health remains to me I will work always…God—-but my sickness is persistent –it eats away at me always. I am surely doomed. I am as good as dead already…’ Continue reading

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Anonymous book donor revealed

Found in a collection of ephemera this intriguing typed letter from the long vanished New York bookshop Tessaro's. The shop was in Maiden Lane which appears to have been a kind of bookseller's row. The address later housed a rare bookshop called Sabin's. Tessaro's was formerly called Rohde and Haskins who had dabbled in publishing at the dawn of the 20th century.

The letter deals with a request for the identity of the anonymous donor of a book from the recipient - a nurse (presumably) at The General Hospital at Fox Hills.  The shop decided ('we'll take a chance') to reveal the donor's identity. Significantly he was a soldier, as Fox Hills was a very large Army hospital dealing at that time with WW1 casualties. There the story ends. It would be nice to add 'and reader she married him.' The bookshop as go-between must be uncommon and in our cautious times it might not reveal the donor, or possibly send on the request to the donor for permission…

Dear Madam 
Acknowledging receipt of your note of 28th July we would say we do not know that the sender of the book desired it to be known who sent it, but we'll take a chance and say to you, in confidence, that it was mailed to you on the order of Lieut. G.C. Anderson.
Yours very truly,
TESSARO'S

Fox Hill Nursing Staff (1921) from
Advance Archive Photos (many thanks)