Tag Archives: T. S. Eliot

‘The complete sculptor’

Henry Moore’s drawings

Henry Moore was primarily a sculptor as defined by Herbert Read:

The complete sculptor…will be prepared to use every degree in the scale of solids, from clay to obsidian, from wood to steel – Herbert Read (Introduction to Henry Moore: Sculpture and Drawings, 1944)

Drawing, however, was integral to Moore’s artistic practice throughout his career, albeit with a changing relationship to his sculpture over the years. Drawings feature in all the books about Moore in the Alport Collection. Alport also owned at least one of Moore’s sketches.

Colin reading Shelter Sketch Book by Henry Moore. Editions Poetry London : London. 1940.

Colin, one of Univ’s Porters, looking at Shelter Sketch Book by Henry Moore. Editions Poetry London : London. 1940. Colin is standing beside one of the sculptures to be found around the College, The Shelley Memorial. It was created by Edward Onslow Ford in the late nineteenth century.

Early work

The first book dedicated to the work of Henry Moore was published in 1934 at a relatively early stage in his career (he attended art school after serving in WWI). In his introduction Herbert Read praises Moore unreservedly as at “the fullness of his powers” and offering “the perfected product of his genius”.

Henry Moore. A. Zwemmer : London. 1934.

The cover of Henry Moore. A. Zwemmer : London. 1934, with part of Herbert Read’s introduction (p.16)

Between the wars, Moore lived in Hampstead. He had friends nearby among whom were other artists such as Barbara Hepworth and Ben Nicholson; architects like Walter Gropius; and writers including Alport’s acquaintances, T.S. Eliot and Stephen Spender.  Stephen Spender also collected work by Moore. The picture below, from Stephen Spender’s collection, exemplifies Moore’s use of drawing to inspire sculpture at this stage in his career.

Sketch belonging to Stephen Spender from Henry Moore: Sculpture and Drawings. London : Lund Humphries and Company. 1944.

Ideas for Stone-Seated Figure, 1934, 22 x 15 ins., charcoal and pen, from the collection of Stephen Spender, featured in Henry Moore: Sculpture and Drawings. London : Lund Humphries and Company. 1944.

Shelter Sketch Book

It is the human figure which interests me most deeply – Henry Moore (‘Notes on Sculpture’ in Henry Moore: Sculpture and Drawings, 1944)

The outbreak of the Second World War in 1939 brought a halt to Moore’s production of sculpture. As the War progressed the materials he needed became harder to obtain and he made no sculptures between September 1940 and June 1942.

From Shelter Sketch Book by Henry Moore. Editions Poetry London : London. 1940.

Drawing from Shelter Sketch Book by Henry Moore. Editions Poetry London : London. 1940.

Moore continued to draw during the War and, as Herbert Read wrote, his output during this time allowed “a far larger number of people…to enjoy and possess some example of the artist’s work than would otherwise have been the case” (Introduction to Henry Moore: Sculpture and Drawings, 1944).

Drawing from Shelter Sketch Book by Henry Moore. Editions Poetry London : London. 1940.

Drawing from Shelter Sketch Book by Henry Moore. Editions Poetry London : London. 1940.

One night in September 1940, Moore and his wife had to stay on the platform at Belsize Park underground station during a bombing raid. Moore was fascinated by the figures of the Londoners, men, women, and children who were spending the night there sheltering from the Blitz. Within a few days he produced the first of his shelter drawings.

Drawing from Shelter Sketch Book by Henry Moore. Editions Poetry London : London. 1940.

Drawing from Shelter Sketch Book by Henry Moore. Editions Poetry London : London. 1940.

Moore’s shelter drawings of 1940–41 were exhibited at The National Gallery during the War. They transformed Moore’s public reputation. He went almost overnight from an avant-garde artist to one whose work Londoners could identify with.

Festival of Britain

In 1951, Moore was commissioned to produce a sculpture for the Festival of Britain (organised by the government to promote a sense of recovery after WWII and to celebrate British achievements in the arts, science and technology). The outcome was the bronze Reclining Figure: Festival, a cast of which is now held at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art in Edinburgh. The Arts Council also arranged Moore’s first London retrospective, at the Tate Gallery, to coincide with the Festival.

The year before this exhibition Alport went to see Moore at his studios in Perry Green, Hertfordshire. His visit prompted Moore to write asking for photographs of the examples of his drawings in Alport’s collection. Moore also mentioned that the Arts Council might be interested in borrowing the works for future exhibitions.

Letter from Henry Moore to Alport written on 10 October 1950

Letter from Henry Moore to Alport written on 10 October 1950. It is kept in the University College Archives [UC:P110/C24/1].

Letter from Henry Moore to Alport written on 15 January

Letter from Henry Moore to Alport written on 15 January 1951. It is kept in the University College Archives [UC:P110/C24/2].

Some ‘Rocking Chair’ sculptures, like the one referred to in Moore’s second letter, can be seen in action in a documentary about the artist produced by the BBC also in 1951. One of the drawings that Alport owned can be traced as it has been sold at auction several times since Alport’s death. Its title is Three Seated Figures: Ideas for Sculpture. It was produced by Moore in 1941 using wax crayon, coloured crayon, chalk, pastel, charcoal, watercolour and pen and ink on paper. Its dimensions are 11 x 14 7/8 in. (27.7 x 37.5 cm). Similar sketches appear in the 1944 overview of Moore’s work.

Drawings featured in Henry Moore: Sculpture and Drawings. London : Lund Humphries and Company. 1944.

Drawings of three seated figures featured in Henry Moore: Sculpture and Drawings. London : Lund Humphries and Company. 1944.

Later drawing

By the mid-1950s Moore’s drawings were no longer his means of generating ideas for sculpture. Instead he took inspiration from natural forms such as bones, shells and stone, from which his sculptural ideas evolved.

Moore returned to drawing when he took up print making later in life. By then drawing, for him, was a separate activity from sculpture. From 1970 he produced an great number of drawings, particularly during the early 1980s when he was too ill to work on his sculpture. Many of his drawings are exhibited alongside his sculptures at his former house and studios in Perry Green, Hertfordshire, which are now the home of the Henry Moore Foundation. They are well worth a visit.

Other sources used in this post were:

‘Henry, OM, CH Moore – 1898-1986’. Accessed 5 Nov. 2012 at http://www.artfact.com/auction-lot/henry-moo-5xy5t6owvf-13-m-ec6de58c4c

Wilkinson, Alan. “Moore, Henry Spencer (1898–1986).” in Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Online ed. Ed. H. C. G. Matthew and Brian Harrison. OUP : Oxford. Accessed 5 Nov. 2012 <http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/39962&gt;

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‘visions and revisions’ : T. S. Eliot and Alport

The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock

Let us go then, you and I,

When the evening is spread out against the sky

Like a patient etherized upon a table

– T. S. Eliot (‘The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock’ in Prufrock and Other Observations, 1917.)

In 2003 a Univ finalist researching an extended essay on the prose of T.S. Eliot came across the rich seam of Eliot material in the Alport Collection. Whilst looking through the first editions, many of them with inscriptions to Alport from Eliot, Rachel Oakeshott discovered a copy of Poetry magazine from June 1915 in which appeared Eliot’s first published poem, ‘The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock’.

Looking through the fragile pages of this ephemeral publication, she noticed that Eliot’s poem had been corrected in black ink. The annotations included the excited exclamation, ‘damn!’ next to the misprint ‘spot’ where the poem should have read ‘soot’. Rachel’s research led her to meet with the poet’s widow who confirmed that the corrections were T. S. Eliot’s own.

Poetry, vol. VI, no.III. Seymour, Daughday and Co. : Chicago. June 1915.

Cover and the beginning of ‘The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock’ with Eliot’s corrections in Alport’s copy of Poetry, vol. VI, no.III. Seymour, Daughday and Co. : Chicago. June 1915. Click image to have a closer look.

‘The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock’ was dedicated to a medical student, Jean Verdenal, with whom Eliot lodged during his postgraduate year at the Sorbonne in Paris, and who died age 26, a casualty of WWI. It was the title poem in Eliot’s first collection of poetry, Prufrock and Other Observations (The Egoist : London. 1917). Only 500 copies of this book were printed, one of which Alport acquired.  

Prufrock and other observations. The Egoist : London. 1917.

Peter one of Univ’s accountants examines Alport’s copy of Prufrock and Other Observations outside the Treasury; dedication and lines from ‘The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock’ in Prufrock and Other Observations. The Egoist : London. 1917.

The number of inscriptions from Eliot in Alport’s collection implies that the two men knew each other, but where they met, in Oxford, Germany or London, and how they became acquainted, through friends, perhaps, or literary interests, remains unknown.

Ariel Poems

What seas what shores what grey rocks and what islands

What water lapping the bow

And scent of pine and the woodthrush singing through the fog

What images return

O my daughter.

– T. S. Eliot (Marina, no. 29 of The Ariel Poems.)

Some of the most attractive objects in the Alport Collection are the five poems that Eliot contributed to Faber & Faber’s Ariel Poems series. The thirty-eight pamphlets in the first Ariel Poems series combined the work of authors and illustrators with striking effect.

Marina, no. 29 of The Ariel Poems. Faber & Faber : London.

Illustrations by E. McKnight Kauffer and inscription from Eliot to Alport in Alport’s copy of Marina, no. 29 of The Ariel Poems, by T. S. Eliot. Faber & Faber : London.

Each pamphlet has more or less the same simple, fragile structure; one sheet of paper folded and sewn inside a coloured paper cover. A black and white artist print on the cover and a coloured print inside are followed by a poem. T. S. Eliot’s poems are illustrated by Gertrude Hermes (Animula, no.23) and E. McKnight Kauffer (Journey of the Magi, no. 8; A Song for Simeon, no.16; Marina, no. 29;  Triumphal March, no. 35).

Animula, no. 23 of The Ariel Poems. Faber & Faber : London.

Illustrations by Gertrude Hermes and text from Alport’s copy of Animula, no. 23 of The Ariel Poems, by T. S. Eliot. Faber & Faber : London.

Eliot worked for Faber as their Literary Editor as well as a writer. He left his job in a bank in 1925 to join the publisher where he was successful in signing and promoting new writers from W. H. Auden to Ted Hughes. His entry in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography goes as far as to see his work at Faber as ‘defining the next forty years of British poetry’.

Triumphal March, no. 35 of The Ariel Poems. Faber & Faber : London.

Illustrations by E. McKnight Kauffer and inscription from Eliot to Alport in Alport’s copy of Triumphal March, no. 35 of The Ariel Poems, by T. S. Eliot. Faber & Faber : London.

Thoughts after Lambeth and Four Quartets

…it is not to anybody’s interest that religion should disappear. If it did, many compositors would be thrown out of work; the audiences of our best-selling scientists would shrink to almost nothing; and the typewriters of the Huxley brothers would cease from tapping. Without religion the whole human race would die…solely of boredom. – T. S. Eliot (Thoughts After Lambeth. Faber & Faber : London. 1931.)

After his baptism into the Church of England in June 1927, which took place at Finstock, not far west of Oxford, Eliot placed religion at the centre of his life. In 1931, Eliot gave Alport a pamphlet in which he reflects on the outcomes of a Report of the Church of England’s Lambeth Conference. Some of the issues Eliot was discussing in the 1930s seem very current today. Substitute Richard Dawkins for Aldous Huxley and passages about the perceived differences between older and younger generations and the relationship between science and religion could almost have been written yesterday.

Thoughts After Lambeth. Faber and Faber : London. 1931.

Front cover with inscription, and text (p.8-9) from Alport’s copy of Eliot’s Thoughts After Lambeth. Faber and Faber : London. 1931.

Religion, in a broad sense,  permeates Eliot’s later poetry. In the Alport Collection are early printings of three of the poems that make up Four Quartets. Alport kept the second poem in the series, East Coker both as it appeared in the 1940 Easter number of The New English Weekly and as it was published (as a stapled pamphlet) by Faber and Faber in the same year.

Four Quartets montage

Three of Eliot’s Four Quartets from the Alport Collection: ‘East Coker’ in The New English Weekly, vol. XVI, no. 22. Easter number 1940 ; East Coker. Faber and Faber : London. 1940 ; ‘The Dry Salvages’ in The New English Weekly, vol. XVIII, no. 19. 27 Feb 1941 ; Little Gidding. Faber and Faber : London. 1942.

You can hear T. S. Eliot reading his poems (including passages from Four Quartets) on The Poetry Archives website.

If you’d like to find out more about T. S. Eliot or read some of his poems look on the first floor of the Library at class mark YIK/ELI.

Sources used in this post were:

Bush, Ronald. “Eliot, Thomas Stearns (1888–1965).” in Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Online ed. Ed. Lawrence Goldman. OUP : Oxford. Accessed 23 Oct. 2012 <http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/32993&gt;.

University College. ‘Leading the Field’ in Univ Newsletter. Issue 16. Michaelmas 2003.

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‘Because I love you so’

 Stephen Spender and Oxford Poetry

Six solitary numbers of the oldest dedicated poetry magazine sit in the Erich Alport Collection. They echo with traces of Alport’s relationship with its one time editor, Stephen Spender.

The Magazine
Oxford Poetry was started in 1920 by the University’s undergraduates. It was published by Basil Blackwell, son of the first owner of Blackwell’s bookshop in Broad Street. The Alport Collection includes copies for the years 1917-19, 1923, 1929, 1930, 1931 and 1932.

Oxford Poetry 1930

Begina from the Norrington Room at Blackwells reads Stephen Spender’s poems published in Oxford Poetry 1930 ; Cover and contents page of the same volume.

Oxford Poetry from the 20s-30s is a simple yet striking production. A white rectangle of card bears the title in dark blue ink. This is pasted onto board and blue paper covers, punctuated by a cream spine.  Inside thick paper pages sewn together hold verses by young writers such as Louis MacNeice and Laurence Whistler.

The Relationship
It seems strange that Alport should have collected only six volumes from seemingly random dates in the early twentieth century, especially as his collection contains longer runs of other literary magazines. The marks of ownership in each volume create a trail of clues, but a little external information is needed to understand their possible significance.

In January 1930, Stephen Spender signed a copy of Oxford Poetry 1929, which he co-edited with Louis Macneice. He dedicated it to “Erich Alport with best wishes from Stephen Spender”.

Oxford Poetry and inscription to Erich Alport from Stephen Spender

Oxford Poetry 1929 with inscription from Stephen Spender to Erich Alport; Stephen Spender in 1932 from his autobiography.

Spender and Alport met in 1929, introduced by University College’s Dean, John Maud. Maud had read one of Spender’s Marston poems, about his admiration for another student at Univ, and passed it on to Alport. For his part, Alport took an immediate interest in Spender and invited him to stay at his parents’ house in Hamburg over the summer. Spender seized the opportunity to experience Germany’s more tolerant social scene, but their relationship that summer was not a happy one.  Alport was in love with Spender; Spender was not attracted to Alport. Spender eventually left Alport’s company to go travelling with new friends.

Alport’s collection of Oxford Poetry suggests that he retained a fondness for Stephen Spender after the summer of 1929. He acquired the 1930 magazine containing five poems by Spender, who was again co-editor. On the contents page, Alport wrote ‘Ernst’ and ‘Arnold’ next to the titles of two of Spender’s poems: ‘Now You’ve no Work, Like a Rich Man’ and ‘Because I Love You So’, perhaps in reference to Ernst Curtius and a Hamburg boy called Arnold, both of whom Spender formed friendships with in 1929.

Erich Alport's annotations on the contents page of Oxford Poetry 1930

Alport also got a copy of the magazine in 1931 and 1932, and obtained second-hand copies from 1923 (in which he pencilled ‘E.A. 1931’) and 1917-19 (which has a humorous book plate belonging to a former owner).

Bookplate of John Douglas Errington Loveland from Alport's copy of Oxford Poetry 1917-19

Perhaps these later acquisitions were out of an attachment to Oxford Poetry rather than Spender, but why then didn’t Alport buy the 1933 edition or any subsequent ones?

In 1932 T.S. Eliot sent Alport the manuscript of Spender’s new novel, The Temple, which he was considering for the publisher Faber & Faber. The novel was based on Spender’s experiences, including an unflattering portrait of Erich Alport as the character Ernst Stockman. An infuriated Alport replied to Eliot that he would sue for libel anyone who published the book. The Temple was not published until 1988. Did Spender’s cruel caricature dampen Alport’s interest in Oxford Poetry with its personal associations? It’s speculative, but other Spender material in the Alport collection also bears marks of their relationship.

Because I love you so

I cannot taste, even the taste of care.

I may not lie with you, and I must go

Far from this town to-morrow. – Stephen Spender (From ‘Because I love you so’, Oxford Poetry 1930)

More Univ Connections
Other Univ contributors in Alport’s six volumes of Oxford Poetry include E. R. Dodds, later Regius Professor of Greek, President of the Society for Psychical Research and literary executor of Auden and MacNeice; R. M. S. Pasley, who went on to be a Headmaster in Barnstaple and Birmingham; E.E. Smith; Geoffrey Curtis, who became an Ecumenical Monk and friend and confessor of T.S. Eliot; Paul Lucas, a Scholar of the College 1928-32 who died in 1935, aged 25; and Stephen Spender himself who came up to Univ. in 1927 but left, without taking a degree, to seek Germany’s more tolerant social scene. In 1974, he renewed his links with the College, becoming an Honorary Fellow and a regular visitor.

E.R. Dodds' poem 'Measure' published in Oxford Poetry 1917-1919.

E.R. Dodds’ poem ‘Measure’ published in Oxford Poetry 1917-1919.

You can read Stephen Spender’s poems in the Library:

Spender, S., Brett, M. (ed.). New collected poems. 2004 (London : Faber). [YIO/SPE]

You can also listen to him reading his poems at poetryarchive.org

More information about Stephen Spender can be found in the Library:

David, H. Stephen Spender: a portrait with background. 1992 (London : Heinemann). [YIO/SPE, D]

Leeming, D. Stephen Spender: a life in modernism. 1999 (London : Duckworth). [YIO/SPE, L]

Spender, S. The Temple. 1988 (London : Faber and Faber). [YIO/SPE]

Spender, S. World Within World: the autobiography of Stephen Spender. 1951 (London: Hamish Hamilton). [YIO/SPE Alport Collection]

Sutherland, J. Stephen Spender: the authorized biography. 2004 (London : Viking). [YIO/SPE,S]

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