Richard Aldington

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(The Richard Aldington Newsletter)
Vol. 36, No. 4                  Winter 2008-09
Editor: Norman T. Gates
520 Woodland Avenue
Haddonfield, NJ 08033-2626, USA
Associate Editor: David Wilkinson
2B Bedford Road, St. Ives
Cornwall TR26 1SP U.K.

RA and H.D. Website:  Correspondent, website editor, and list manager:
Paul Hernandez Correspondents: Catherine Aldington, Michael Copp, Stephen Steele, Archie Henderson, Caroline Zilboorg
Correspondent and Bibliographer: Shelley Cox. 
Biographer: Charles Doyle

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                        In response to Michael Copp’s comments (NCLSN, 36.3.2) Associate Editor David Wilkinson writes that he has a few copies remaining of Papers from the Reading Conference (1986) at £25 each plus postage.  See our masthead for David’s contact details.

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                        Correspondent Copp writes that two recent inquiries from publishers who have come across his The Fourth Imagist: Selected Poems of F.S. Flint indicated that the Imagists are not forgotten.  The first request was from Otava Publishing Company in Finland who is producing a volume of English poems translated into Finnish.  Among the poets to be included are William Blake, RA, Ezra Pound, H.D., F.S. Flint, D.H. Lawrence, and Edward Upward.  Copp will receive a copy on publication and should be able to list the titles of the selected poems.  The second query came from Jonathan Cape/Random House regarding the photograph of Flint that appears on the book-jacket of the above-mentioned book.  They plan to include it in The Verse Revolutionaries, an 800-page book by Helen Carr to be published in April 2009.

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                        Correspondent Archie Henderson found several publications containing references to RA:

Donald Gallup, T.S. Eliot & Ezra Pound: Collaborators in Letters (New Haven, Henry W. Wenning/C.A. Stonehill, Inc., 1970) mentions RA on pp. 8, 21, 22, and 30.  On p. 21 Gallup writes, “Richard Aldington reported from London to Pound in Paris that ‘Eliot was going to pieces and for gawd’s sake could . . . [he] do something, anything.’  Pound, with characteristic energy, threw himself into renewed, frantic efforts to get his scheme going to subsidize Eliot and thus enable him to give up his job at the Bank.  May Sinclair, Aldington and Natalie Barney agreed to help.”

            An excerpt of a letter from RA to Leonard Woolf, 4 Mar. 1926, is quoted in George Spater and Ian Parsons, A Marriage of True Minds: An Intimate Portrait of Leonard and Virginia Woolf (New York and London, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich [1977]), p. 114.

            There is a large section on “Imagism” in Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism, Vol. 74. Ed. Jennifer Gariepy (Detroit, New York, Toronto, Gale [1998]), pp. 259-454.

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                        Richard Aldington’s description of the British Expeditionary Force of summer-autumn 1918 as “abrupt, huge, hairy, testicular” (from a letter to F.S. Flint, 15 September 1918, HRHRC), is quoted in the introduction to a new edition published this fall, of the British novel Retreat: A Story of 1918 by Charles R. Benstead (1st edn. Methuen 1930), by the University of South Carolina Press (Series Editor, the late Matthew J. Brucolli).  The introduction is by Huge Cecil, an NCLS member, and provides a newly researched biography of Benstead, an historical background and a survey of the book’s critical reception.  In this novel, Benstead, a former officer in the Royal Garrison Artillery who was there, gives a powerful account of the March 1918 Western Front retreat, and the painful story of a (fictional) British padre who breaks down under the strain of the battles in the weeks that follow.  It makes an interesting comparison with Death of a Hero, which came out in the previous year.

(Matthew Brucolli’s death this year is a great loss to British and American literary and First World War studies.)

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                        NCLS member Andrew Frayn contributes the following:

“I’ve recently been made aware of the existence of a further RA letter in the Richard Church Papers at the John Rylands Library in Manchester.  The letter is dated 17 May 1949, at Villa Aucassin.  It deals with sundry literary matters, including RA’s current work on Portrait of a Genius … But and the introductions to eight Lawrence volumes: Aldington believes that ‘this should revive the writings of DHL with a bang, and be something of a shock to the lifeless pedants and literary gents now infesting the landscape.’  Church’s executorship of Hal Glover’s literary affairs is discussed in a postscript.  RA looks forward to taking ‘a real holiday for six months or a year,’ and notes Catha’s voracious reading habits at the time.”

            Member Frayn continues: “I’m conscious that I have mentioned a number of items from the JRL Archives in Manchester in recent months.  If any NCLS members are thinking of consulting these, do get in touch with me and I will endeavor to facilitate where I can.  Again, thanks are due to Stella Halkyard, Modern Library Archivist at the John Rylands Library.”  Frayn’s e-mail address is

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                        NCLSN Correspondent Archie Henderson contributes the following two items:

In a letter to Assia Wevill of Feb. 1965, Ted Hughes wrote, “Henry Williamson came last night.  … He’s full of anecdotes about the twenties—Churchill, Aldington, T.E. Lawrence, Ezra Pound etc.”  (Letters of Ted Hughes, selected and edited by Christopher Reid [New York, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2008], p. 238).


                        In 1957 when David Rattray went to interview Ezra Pound in St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in Washington, D.C., Rattray told him that he planned to visit southern France the following year.  Pound told Rattray, “And you could go see old Aldington as to Greek or Provençal, but better not as from E.P.; You’d better just be the jeune homme modeste.  He lives in Montpellier now, I believe.”  (David Rattray. “Weekend with Ezra Pound,” Nation, CLXXXV, 16 (16 Nov. 1957), pp. 343-49 (p. 344).

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                        Correspondent Michael Copp obtained the following pre-publication notice on Helen Carr’s The Verse Revolutionaries, Jonathan Cape (Random House), publication date April 2009:

The Verse Revolutionaries tells the story of the Imagists, a turbulent and colorful group of poets, who came together in London in the years of the First World War.  As T.S. Eliot was to say, appropriately re-invoking the Imagist habit of turning anything that they admired into French, the imagist movement was modern poetry’s point de repere, the landmark venture that inaugurated Anglo-American literary modernism.  A disparate, stormy group, who had dispersed before the twenties began, these verse “revolutionaries” received both abuse and acclaim, but their poetry, fragmented, pared-down, elliptical yet direct, exerted a powerful influence on modernist writers and contributed vitally to the transformation of American and British cultural life in those crucial years.

“Among those involved were the Americans Ezra Pound, H.D., William Carlos Williams, Amy Lowell and John Gould Fletcher, and the British T.E. Hulme, F.S. Flint, Richard Aldington and D.H. Lawrence.  On the edges of the story are figures such as W.B. Yeats, Ford Madox Ford, Wyndham Lewis and T.S. Eliot.  They came form different class backgrounds, a heterogeneous mélange then only possible in a great metropolis like London.

The Verse Revolutionaries traces the passionate interactions, love affairs and bitter quarrels of these aspiring poets from 1905 to 1917.  Helen Carr unpicks the story of how they came together, what they gained from each other in the heady excitement of those early days, and what were the fissures that eventually broke up the movement and their friendship in the dark days of the Great War.  Her compelling account challenges the conventional view of Imagism, and offers an acute analysis of their poetry, of the psychology of the individuals involved, and the evolution and emergence of a transformative cultural movement.

“Helen Carr has worked as a writer, academic (she is Emeritus Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Goldsmiths College, London University) and journalist.  She lives in southeast London.”

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                        NCLS member Simon Hewett contributes the following interesting note on RA:

In Bookseller At The Ballet: Memoirs 1891-1919 (C.W. Beaumont, 1975), Cyril Beaumont discusses his publishing of Aldington’s Images of War.  A more detailed account was given by Beaumont in The First Score (Beaumont Press, 1927), in which he describes the first twenty publications of the press.  Images of War was the seventh book published by the press.  Against a quotation from a letter from Aldington that “ ... the signing of the Japanese vellum copies is going to be blasted difficult.” Beaumont notes “Aldington wishes to say that his vocabulary at this period was enlarged and strengthened by contact with H.M. forces overseas.”  The fifteenth book of the press was The Good-Humoured Ladies, which was translated by Aldington.

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                        NCLS member Andrew Frayn found the following RA item: Scott McCracken’s recent book Masculinities, Modernist Fiction and the Urban Public Sphere (Manchester University Press, 2007), cites RA’s comments in Life for Life’s Sake about Pound and H.D.’s liking for afternoon tea, and the consequence that “the Imagist mouvemong was born in a tea-shop” (see McCracken, p. 120; LLS, p. 122).  McCracken argues, using a cultural materialistic model, that the emergence of the teashop creates a space for modernist struggles of class, status and gender, primarily discussing Dorothy Richardson’s Pilgrimage and the fiction of George Gissing.

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                        Richard Aldington: An Autobiography in Letters (Penn State University Press, 1992), edited by Norman T. Gates, is now available in paperback. for details.

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                        Here is another contribution from Simon Hewett: In Chapter 19 of his biography of Aldington, Charles Doyle discusses a “plaquette” conceived by Roy Campbell to rebut Nancy Cunard and others who had attacked Aldington’s portrayal of Norman Douglas in Pinorman.  Catalogue 1425 issued by Maggs Bros. includes (no. 216) the galley proofs of What Next? Or, Black Douglas & White Ladyship being An Herpetology of Literary London.  The catalogue describes the proposed pamphlet as “ A furious response to Nancy Cunard’s review of “Pinorman,” in which, typically, she has shown loyalty to the abused Norman Douglas.” The first lot of galleys (13 sheets) has the texts of Lyle’s introduction; Aldington’s “Postscript” (letter to Campbell); Campbell’s reply.  The second (in smaller type on 6 sheets) comprises Cunard’s review and others; a letter from D.M. Low; letters from Frieda Lawrence; a letter from Graham Greene, together with his (suppressed) review for The London Magazine.

            The proofs were acquired by the bibliophile Alan Clodd, and the catalogue comprises the fifth installment of the sale of his library.

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                        Checklist addenda: Associate Editor David Wilkinson has advised NCLS member Samuel Hewett that the following Aldington letters included in the Wilkinson Archive have not previously been listed in the NCLSN or the Checklist.

            Eskell, Bertram (“Bertie”) Cecil (British surgeon practicing in New York City); 6 letters

                        1 – 30 November 1935 – tls, Cavendish Hotel, London; Simon Hewett

                        1 – 3 January 1939 – tls, Villa Koeclin, Le Canadel, France; Simon Hewett

                        1 – 26 November 1941 – tls, Jamay Beach, Nokomis, Florida; Simon Hewett

                        1 – 20 December 1941 – tls, Jamay Beach, Nokomis, Florida; Simon Hewett

                        1 – 14 October 1942 – tls – 8439 Sunset Boulevard, Hollywood, California; Simon Hewett

                        1 – 29 December 1942 – tls, 8439 Sunset Boulevard, Hollywood, California; Simon Hewett

In his letter of 30 November, 1935, Aldington tells Eskell “I am immersed in Renaissance Italian and Latin, cursing the guts of the Borgias.  I’ve written the opening of the book, but don’t know yet whether I shall continue.  It’s like doing detective work across four centuries without any but written clues.  And they were such bloody liars.”  Are any NCLS members familiar with this work?

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                        Associate Editor David Wilkinson writes: “Late on the night of 4th November I watched the British television presentation of the celebrations in America following the election of Barack Obama.  This week the BBC is broadcasting a series of television programs, “My Family at War,” in which a number of minor celebrities are helped to investigate the part played by their ancestors in “The Great War.”  Today, as I walked down to the harbour, I noticed that the St. Ives War Memorial was being cleaned up to play its part in commemorating the forthcoming Armistice Day in the UK.  Together these circumstances brought to mind events that took place ninety years ago.  In the opening paragraph of Chapter XII of Life for Life’s Sake, RA wrote: ‘On the 4th of November 1918, there was an armistice between Italy and Austria, and, owing to somebody’s error, this piece of news was falsely announced in America as the end of the war.  Seeing that 6 a.m. Western European time is 1 a.m. Eastern American time, I calculate that on the very morning when New York went crazy over the peace, I was looking at the luminous dial of my watch in the grey dawn and giving my signalers the order to advance.’”

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                        Palladour Books (NCLSN members Jeremy and Anne Powell) in their Catalogue Number 44, “Literature and Poetry of the First World War,” include two Aldington items: At All Costs and Roads to Glory.

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                                Correspondent Michael Copp, who is constantly on the lookout for RA items in his reading, found this interesting item: “In the third of The Guardian’s excellent series of booklets (10 November 2008) on the subject of the First World War, ‘Life in the Trenches.,’ I was delighted to see included RA’s poem ‘Bombardment.’  This issue contains two other war poems: Siegfried Sassoon’s `Suicide in the Trenches,’ and Robert Graves’s ‘It’s a Queer Time.”

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                        Correspondent and Website Editor Paul Hernandez advised that Dutch publisher Fons Oltheten wrote him of his interest in publishing Death of a Hero in a new Dutch edition.

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                        With further reference to The Guardian’s outstanding series of First World War booklets, in Day Six, “The Art of War,” Ana Carden-Coyne writes in her introductory essay: “Warriors were undone, as Richard Aldington showed in Death of a Hero (1929), which mocks public school and military culture for the false ideals of Edwardian masculinity.”

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                        Simon Hewett noticed that in Richard Aldington: An Autobiography in Letters (Letter 136 to Eric Warman dated January 1958) I had footnoted as “not traced” a reference by RA to a review he had recently written for an Australian paper.  The review, entitled “A Clear-Headed Poet,” was of Kenneth Lessor’s Poems, and appeared in Australian Letters, presumably in 1957.  There was a reference to the review in the NCLSN, 19.1.2.

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                        Heather Hernandez, who edits the H.D. website at, advises that Des Imagistes is now available online as a website, or as a .pdf of the original book:   This website and .pdf is the creation of the MIT Comparative Media Studies class of 2010.

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                        In The Poetry of Richard Aldington I wrote: “By the end of 1912, Aldington, along with H.D., his future wife, had been selected by Ezra Pound as a shining exponent of the new Imagist movement which Pound had developed from the aesthetic theories of T.E. Hulme.  The first result of Pound’s patronage was the publication of Aldington’s free-verse poems in Harriet Monroe’s Poetry; the second was his inclusion in the first Imagist anthology, Des Imagistes; An Anthology, published in 1914.” (p.23)  Des Imagistes contains ten poems (twelve pages) by RA and seven poems (eleven pages) by H.D.  Those of us interested in the work of RA and H.D.are certainly grateful to these MIT students for making Des Imagistes easily available in an attractive format.

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                        Our website editor, Paul Hernandez, posts the quarterly NCLSN online as it is issued.  Back issues from Vol. 30, No. 3 (Autumn 2002) are also online as well as the “Index to Vols. 1-30.”  Click on “Newsletter table of contents” to find the issue that you want or the “Index.”  The website address in  For references to earlier numbers, contact your editors.

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                        On a recent visit to the United States with his son, Associate Editor David Wilkinson was driven from New York City to my home by NCLS member Simon Hewett.  David and I had not been together since the celebration of RA’s centennial birthday in1992,

                        Both David and I wish to extend to all NCLS members holiday season’s greetings and best wishes for the coming year.