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Dymock Poets Special Collection
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Dymock Poets Special Collection

  • DP
  • Collection
  • 1842 - 2022

On the north-west borders of Gloucestershire, in the years immediately prior to the outbreak of the First World War, a literary community was formed which came to represent a significant development in the modern poetic tradition. By August 1914, the poet and playwright Lascelles Abercrombie, Wilfrid Gibson, and the American poet Robert Frost had all taken up residence in and around the village of Dymock. Inspired by the beauty of their surroundings and encouraged by a succession of visitors, including Rupert Brooke, John Drinkwater, Edward Thomas and Eleanor Farjeon, a new literary currency was established during that final summer before the outbreak of war.

Their writings represented a movement away from the prevailing literary idiom, regarded by many as rhetorically ornate and emotionally restricted. Instead the Dymock Poets sought inspiration in natural settings and everyday experiences. In this, and their desire for a more direct, authentic register, their work can be located within the traditions of Wordsworth and the principles set out in Lyrical Ballads.

It was a productive time for all concerned, with four issues of a periodical, New Numbers, being written and printed as a true cottage industry. This period was also to see the emergence of Edward Thomas as a gifted and prolific writer of verse and to lead to Robert Frost’s formation of a new poetic philosophy.

This brief idyll was to prove short lived. Within three years both Brooke and Thomas were dead, Frost had returned to North America, and Abercrombie, Drinkwater and Gibson were involved in war work. Their writings, however, continue to form an important literary legacy to this day.

The institution has actively sought to collect material from various sources that centres on the Dymock Poets (Edward Thomas, Robert Frost, Wilfrid Gibson, Lascelles Abercrombie, John Drinkwater, Rupert Brooke) and related authors such as Eleanor Farjeon. Items are donated or deposited by a wide range of people, including some of the families of the poets. Material has also been deposited by both The Edward Thomas Fellowship and Friends of the Dymock Poets regarding the administration of both societies.

The collection is comprised of original paper-based documents, monographs, journals, articles, photographic material and multi-media. Secondary-source material is catalogued on the University’s library catalogue

Cheltenham and Gloucester College of Higher Education


Programmes and information for various events including "Edward Thomas and Contemporary Poetry: A One-day Conference" 12 March 2005, the Friends of the Dymock Poets Spring Day 25 March 2006, production of "The Songs I Had... A portrait in scenes and music of the First World War composer Ivor Gurney", "Visions and Thanksgiving: A concert in St Mary's Church, Dymock" 6 October 2012, "The Poetic Voices of John Drinkwater" talk 5 October 2013, "Return to Adlestrop" 24 June 2014, "Dymock 1914 Remembered" 11 - 12 July 2014, "The Dymock Poets and the impact of the First World War: An illustrated talk by Linda Hart" 15 November 2014 and "1914: Songs and poetry of World War I" by The Trench Choir. Includes pencil annotations

John Drinkwater to Edward Marsh

Handwritten transcript of letters from Drinkwater to Marsh, 29 September 1912 - 29 December 1915. Topics include written works, visits, James Elroy Flecker, New Numbers and Rupert Brooke

Wilfrid Gibson to Edward Marsh

Handwritten transcript of letters from Gibson to Marsh, 2 August 1912 - c. January 1916. Topics include differences with Harold Munro, visits, written works, health, Rupert Brooke, Georgian Poetry, marriage to Geraldine Townshead, New Numbers, Maurice Browne and the Little Theatre Chicago

Lascelles Abercrombie to Rupert Brooke

Two photocopied letters and one photocopied postcard dated 30 September 1912, 5 October 1912 and 31 March 1913. Includes typescript of October 1912 letter and March 1913 postcard. Topics include Madame Strindberg and the Cabaret Theatre, illness and visits

Letter from Dorothy Una Ratcliffe to Wilfrid Wilson Gibson describing a meeting with Hugh MacDiarmid

Written from The Percy Arms Hotel, Otterburn, Northumberland. Recalls a recent meeting with the Scottish poet, Hugh MacDiarmid where they discussed Gibson's work, for which he expressed a "great liking" and Roy Campbell's which he "loathes". Dorothy Una Ratcliffe was editor of the Northern Broadsheet and a friend of Wilfrid's who was later to deposit a large collection of his material in the Brotherton Library, Leeds

Newspaper article "Mr Gibson"

Published in the Manchester Guardian, author "H I'A F". A review of "Coldknuckles" praising Gibson's handling of the Northumbrian dialect. The cutting was forwarded to Frederick Mullen Ltd. and is glued to a pre-printed form

Newspaper article "Wilfrid Gibson, people's poet"

Published in The Guardian, author unknown. Claims Krindlesyke to have been his masterpiece, after which "the force of his art seemed to have declined". It dismisses his inclusion as a Georgian Poet, claiming his methods and aims to be quite different to the other poets within the group. It mentions his association with Lascelles Abercrombie

Assignment of copyright of selected works by Rupert Brooke to Wilfrid Wilson Gibson, Lascelles Abercrombie and Walter de la Mare

Indenture signed by Rupert Brooke's mother Mary Ruth Brooke assigning copyright for Brooke's works "Poems", "1914 and Other Poems", "Selected Poems", "The Old Vicarage, Grantchester", "Collected Poems", "Letters from America", and "John Webster and the Elizabethan Drama" to Gibson, Abercrombie and de la Mare according to written instruction from Rupert Brooke who died intestate. The indenture states that this letter also contained "other matters of a very private nature and has since been destroyed by the Administratix" [Mary Ruth Brooke]

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