Finding-Aid for the Erica Marx Papers (MSS075)


©2001 University Libraries, Washington University in St. Louis

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Table of Contents

Collection Outline

Descriptive Summary

Historical/Biographical Note

Scope and Contents Note

Restrictions

Administrative Information

Box and Folder Listing


Collection Outline

I. Correspondence, professional,personal, and miscellany.

II. Poetry Book Society, London.

III. Company of Nine

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Descriptive Summary

CreatorMarx, Erica, 1909-1969
TitleErica Marx Papers
Quantity: 800 items
Identification: MSS075

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Historical/Biographical Note

Organizational History - Company of Nine

No periodical information appears to be available. Organization founded by Rumer Godden, James Haynes-Dixon and Erica Marx to promote public interest in poetry as an oral art - specifically to `bring poetry back to the people'. For statement of purpose see Ser. 1. Original plans included readings to be held in various stately homes, the poems chosen to correspond with the period of the setting, and for readings in the provinces with poems to relate to local artists and interests, as well as public readings in numerous London art theatres, libraries and auditoriums. The long-run intention was to focus on contemporary authors, especially those who lacked public exposure and to make a strong effort to encourage as well a greater interest in poetry of other peoples and nations, e.g. Australian and American Negro works. The hope was that readings would take the place of after-dinner speakers and would be unusual. The society frowned upon the practices of the Apollo Society, then a going concern, for what was felt to be a narrowness of scope and a sentimental, limited approach. In a particular desire to appeal to the young and the `man in the street' they organized inexpensive lunch-time readings at Foyle's Bookshop and similarly became involved in various charity readings. Working upon the principle that the poet himself was the least successful public interpreter of his own work, they engaged professional readers and actors for each occasion, although an attempt was made to secure the presence of the poet in question, who was usually requested to talk a little about his writing. The company had not completely met with the public acclaim they desired as of 1959 when Erica Marx resigned, but did perform an interesting Series with some programs being uniquely successfull. The company suffered numerous organizational problems, which the correspondence in particular very nicely reveals.

Organizational History - Poetry Book Society, London

For a brief descriptive history of the organization, see the serial The Private Press, Spring, 1970 (Spec. Z990, P7) Article by Eric White describes origins and development. Society still active. Original directors included Joseph Compton, Basil Blackwell, R.W. David, T.S. Eliot, Sir George Rostrevor Hamilton, and Erica Marx. Eric White, then an associate of the Arts Council of Great Britian, was made secretary early in the society's development and still retains the position. Organization not to be confused with the Poetry Society; for dispute over name that ocurred due to similarity, see folder 16. The PBS records are source of a little information on publishing business and book distribution.

Biographical Note - Erica Marx

Standard biographical and bibliographical information on Erica Marx may be found in Contemporary Authors. Primarily a publisher and promoter of the arts rather than a practising artist, she operated Les Press de l'hotel Sagonne in Paris from 1938-1940 and 1945-1947. In addition, she was the sole proprietor of the Hand and Flower Press from various locations in Kent from 1940-1963, affording many young poets their first appearances. Largely an experimentor, with a particular interest in poetry, her primary concerns seem to have been in attempting to reach those in the public who either could not afford to buy books of poetry or who scorned poetry in large measure. Of particular renown is the Poems in Pamphlet Series, which ran for [3?] Series of 10-11 each, 1951-1953. Each pamphlet included upto 40 poems by one author but sold for a very small price.

Erica Marx published under the Hand and Flower imprint two books of her own verse. The first of these, Escape from anger, was issued as #11 in the 1951 pamphlet Series, under the pseudonymn Robert Manfred. The second, Some Poems, was published as a separate slim volume, in 1955. In the same year, she edited with Patric Dickinson and J. C. Hall, the P.E.N. Anthology.

She was one of the original guarantors and directors from 1955-1959 of the Company of Nine, a group dedicated to the promotion of poetry as an oral entertainment, and a director of the Poetry Book Society from its inception in 1954 to her resignation in 1957. From 1954-1957 she also helped operate M Plates Ltd. which was concerned with a printing process. Throughout her publishing career, she was an active member in numerous London literary and musical societies.

As of 1959, she was reported to be living in England's only converted Thames barge. In 1963 she sold the press and launched herself into "Private research into Radiesthesia, paraphysics and sonic therapy in an attempt to acquire a greater understanding of the relationship between mind and matter." (C/A)

The Rare Book Department holds copies of Escape from anger, and Some Poems and several Hand and Flower Press publications; of special note, Poems in Pamphlet.

COMPANY OF NINE.

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Scope and Contents Note

Collection consists of a selection of Erica Marx's professional papers, 40 folders. Series 1 contains professional and personal correspondence, 1926-1963, concerning the Hand and Flower Press, in particular discussion with Eric White about publishing his compilation of English Farce jigs. Other correspondents, many letters unconnected to press business, include Sir Kenneth Clark, Muriel Spark, J.R. Ackerly, Jocelyn Brooke, and John Masefield. There are also two letters to S. Janstein(?) from the French diseuse Yvette Guilbert, c.47 items, Series also includes ts. draft of English Farce Jigs by Eric White, 12 pp. a report of the 1951-52 Conference on Copyright Poetry, 7 pp. and an announcement of a poetry competition; 4 folders. Series 2 contains records of organization and operation of the London-based Poetry Book Society, 1952-65. Ser. 2-1 includes original memos, and notes, agendas, minutes of director's meetings, financial statements, the circulated newsletter to members, and various lists of books and authors selected or recommended; Ser. 2-2 contains correspondence between directors concerning the society, c.172 items; and Ser. 2-3 contains miscellaneous related items; 18 folders. Series 3 contains records of a similar nature of the Company of Nine. Ser. 3-1 includes agendas, minutes, memos, a newsletter Series, some financial statements and a collection of programs, leoflets, announcements, clippings, etc. about Company of Nine activities and also related material belonging to other groups; Ser. 3-2 holds particular strength in the correspondence between the original guarantors and directors - Erica Marx, Rumer Godden and James L. Haynes-Dixon, c.337 items. Correspondence also includes other persons connected with projects: Joseph Compton, John Carroll, Roland Clarke, Christopher Hassall, Jean Primrose and numerous poets, readers, and others. Ser. 3-3 contains a ts. poem, Feeding birds, by Rumer Godden, and a ts. [carbon] of poems read at a commemorative Armistice Day reading organized by the company; 18 folders.

3 Boxes.

c.800 items.

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Restrictions

Access Restrictions

Open.

Use Restrictions

Users of the collections must read and abide by the Rules for the use of manuscript collection materials.

Users of the collections who wish to use items from this collection, in whole or in part, in any form of publication (as defined in the form) must sign and submit to the Washington University Department of Special Collections a hard copy of the Notification of intent publish manuscript collection materials form.

All publication restricted to those who have permission of the copyright holder.

Copyright to large portions of the collection held by the estate of Erica Marx.

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Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Erica Marx Papers, Washington University in St. Louis

Processing Information

Processed by Washington University Department Special Collections Staff August, 1970. EAD encoded finding-aid complete December, 2001

Accruals

Interfiled within collection or by accession at end of collection.

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Box and Folder Listing

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Box/folder
1

I. Correspondence, professional,personal, and miscellany., (c.52 items.)

Discusses publications by the Hand and Flower Press and personal matters. Discusses in particular possible publication of White's English Farce Jigs. Note: All letters authored by Erica Marx are carbon only, unsigned.
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Box/folder
1/1
, I.1 Correspondence 1926-1952. (c.24 items.)
Correspondence, including letters from Yvette Guilbert to S. Janstein (?) in which she discusses La chanson de ma vie (mes mèmoirs), and John Masefield, J.R. Ackerley, and Eric White. ALS, TLS, ts. [carbon] and postcards. (9 Marx carbons)
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Box/folder
1/2
, I.2 Correspondence 1953-1963. (c.23 items.)
Correspondence, including letters from Eric White, Jocelyn Brooke, Bryan Guinness, Sir Kenneth Clark, and Muriel Spark. Clark discusses a recent book of poems by Thomas Fassam, and Muriel Spark discusses her recent book Fanfarlo. ALS, TLS, ts. [carbon], postcards (5 Marx carbons)
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Box/folder
1/3
I.3 English farce jigs [unpublished text] by Eric W. White., 1952: Jan. 26. (12 pp.)
Introduction and prose outline of the history of English farce jigs; intended for publication by the Hand and Flower Press. Heavily revised. Ts., ts. [carbon]
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Box/folder
1/4
, I.4 Correspondence 1951: Dec. 5 - Mar. 10, 1952. (13 pp. c.52 items.)
Report on the Conference on copyright poetry, sponsored by the Arts Council of Great Britain, which Miss Marx attended on behalf of the Hand and Flower Press. Report concerned with recommendations on the public performance of copyright poetry. Includes lists of those attending, a sample Applicationlicense, etc. Ts. [duplicated] Also includes announcement of an Arts Council poetry competition.

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Box/folder

II. Poetry Book Society, London.,

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Box/folder
II.1 Business Records. Poetry Book Society, London.,
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1/5Articles of association [draft] of the Poetry Book Society., 1953: Mar. 27. (32 pp.)
Intended as preparatory, under the 1948 Companies Act, to incorporation as a company limited by guarantee and not having a share capital. Moderately revised. Drawn up by Bird and Bird, solicitors, Gray's Inn, in conjunction with Eric White, secretary of the Poetry Book Society. Ts. [duplicated]
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1/6-13Minutes of meetings of the Poetry Book Society., 1953: Oct. 5-Dec. 31, 1965. (8 folders.)
Chronologically arranged including agendas, memos, financial statements, annual general reports, lists of books submitted, announcements of choices made, selectors appointed and details of membership. Appendixes of relevant information also retained, when applicable, in the minutes. Records are not complete. 1958-65 contains only isolated annual reports.
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1/14Poetry book Society Bulletin., 1956: Sept. - May, 1966. (4 items.)
Incomplete. Printed material. Includes announcements of book choices and recommendations, and brief vitae on authors involved. Occasionally provides statements on or about poetry or reprints individual poems, including statements by W.S. Merwin, Kathleen Nott, John Smith, Charles Tomlinson, Ruth Pitter, A.K. Ramanujan, and Anne Halley. Reprints or prints for first time poems by Kathleen Nott, Patrick MacDonogh, Ruth Pitter, A.K. Ramanujan, and Anne Halley and no. 49 contains an obituary by David Wright of Brian Higgins, and a sketch by John Howard, in memoriam.
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Box/folder
2
II.2 Correspondence between the directors of the Poetry Book Society.,
Includes letters by Erica Marx, Eric White, Joseph Compton, W.E. Williams and many others. Note: All letters authored by Miss Marx are carbon only, unsigned.
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2/15-21, 1952: Oct. 23 - Oct, 1958. (c.172 items.)
Discusses publicity, financial arrangements, legal condition of the society, distribution of materials, choice of selectors, general business procedures, etc. ALS, TLS, ts. [duplicated], ts, [carbon] (55 Marx carbons)
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Box/folder
II.3 Miscellaneous related materials.,
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2/22Miscellaneous advertisements, news releases, drafts of announcements to members, leaflets, programs, etc. Ts., ts. [carbon], printed material., [c.1956-1959] (c.36 items.)

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Box/folder

III. Company of Nine,

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Box/folder
III.1 Company of Nine. Business Records,
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2/23Agendas of meetings., 1956-1958. (7 items. Moderate notations appended. Ts., ts. [carbon])
Meetings irregularly scheduled.
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2/24Minutes of company meetings., 1956: Nov. 22-May 26, 1959. (49 pp.)
Discussion includes projects, festivals, artists to be engaged, procedures involved, etc. Some financial statements attached or incorporated. Drawn up by James L. Haynes-Dixon, chairman of the company. Ts., ts. [carbon], ts. [duplicated]
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2/25Rules of procedure for conducting meetings, and plans for financing projects [draft]., 1957-1958. (10 pp. Ms., ts. ts [duplicated])
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2/26Business Files, [1956-1960] (42 pp.)
Memos, programs, notes on projects, applications for use of copyright poems to the Hand and Flower Press, a few financial statements, lists of artists, samples of stationary, etc. Ms., ts., ts. [carbon], printed material.
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2/27Newsletter Newsletter., 1957. (11 pp. Ts., ts. [carbon])
Disbributed irregularly to directors by James L. Haynes-Dixon. No. 1 dated Feb. 23. Apparently discontinued at the end of 1957.
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Box/folder
3
III.2 Correspondence,,
between the directors of the Company of Nine concerning the company's business. Letters also exchanged between Erica Marx and numerous artists, agents, and authors involved in the varied projects. Note: All letters authored by Erica Marx are carbon only, unsigned.
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3/28-37Correspondence , 1956: Oct. 22 - Jan 22, 1960. (c.337 items. TLS, ALS, postcards, ts. [carbon] (172 Marx carbons))
Correspondence includes letters to Erica Marx from Rumer Godden and her husband James L. Haynes-Dixon, Roland Clarke, Joseph Compton, John Carroll, artistic manager for the company; Robert Graecen, a publicity agent; Christopher Hassall, Charles Causley, Christina Foyle, Jean Primrose, Paul Dehn and many others.
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Box/folder
III.3 Miscellaneous related materials.,
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3/38Miscellaneous programs, leaflets, announcements, advertisements for readings, clippings, articles and related materials. , [1956-1960] (c.40 items.)
Some items related to societies or groups other than the Company of Nine.
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3/39Feeding Birds [poem] by Rumer Godden. Ts., no revision, 1 p., [1957: Jan. 21] (1 item.)
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3/40Poetry of two wars, 1958: Nov. 11. (54 pp. 3 boxes. c.800 items. [anthology] Ts. [carbon])
Poems read during Foyle's lunchtime promenade to commemorate the war dead. Program arranged by the Company of Nine, primarily Rumer Godden and Erica Marx. Read by John Laurie and David Spenser, with Paul Dehn in the chair. Poets include Wilfred Owen, Rupert Brooke, Alun Lewis, Osbert Sitwell, Charles Causley, Edward Thomas, and others. Each of these poems had been previously published.

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