This small but important collection of Joan Rodker Papers contains not
only her own personal correspondence evolving around her long-standing
friendship with Doris Lessing, but also that of her father, publisher and
novelist John Rodker. In addition, the collection contains a number of John
Rodker's diaries and dream notebooks as well as personal papers. As such it is
an important addition to the Ransom Center's existing collections of John
Rodker and Doris Lessing.
The collection is arranged in three series: Series I. Joan Rodker
Correspondence, 1920s-2000, Series II. Rodker Family Correspondence, and Series
III. John Rodker Papers and Notebooks. The files maintain Rodker's labeling
The personal correspondence in Series I. reflects Joan Rodker's
long-standing friendships with Betty Barnes (wife of Joe Barnes who edited
Lessing's Golden Notebook at Simon and Schuster), Mary Campbell, Theodore
Draper, Puji Haden-Guest, Doris Lessing, Jessica Mitford, Paddy and Peggy
O'Connor, Helen Scott, and Antoinette Sainsbury. Interwoven throughout the
correspondence is Rodker's connection with Doris Lessing, as the two shared
many friends and acquaintances including: James Aldridge, Ted Allen, John
Berger, Jenny Diski, Carole Klein (Lessing's unauthorized biographer), Hymie
Levy, Murray Sayle, Clancy Sigal, and Lucille Warner.
The business and general literary correspondence includes queries by
researchers interested in obtaining information on John Rodker and his literary
associations (second wife Mary Butts, Frederick Etchells, Freud and the Imago
Publishing Company, Wyndham Lewis, Isaac Rosenberg, and Wallace Stevens) as
well as correspondence related to royalties and the disposition of Rodker's
estate upon his death in 1955. Some letters are addressed to Marianne Rodker,
John Rodker's fourth and last wife. When Marianne died in 1984, Joan Rodker
assisted the heirs in dealing with literary inquiries and the organization and
sale of her father's papers.
The family correspondence in Series II dates from the early 1920s to the
present. Correspondents include John Rodker, his father David, brother Peter
Roker, mother-in-law Ludmilla Savitzky (mother of Rodker's fourth wife
Marianne), Marianne's daughter Dominique Tiry, his third wife artist Barbara
Stanger McKenzie-Smith, Camilla Rodker Bagg (daughter of second wife, author Mary
Butts), Joan Rodker, and her mother Sonia Cohen Joslen.
Important business and personal papers are found in Series III along
with John Rodker's diaries, beginning in 1919 through 1940. These provide
insight into Rodker's publishing ventures and personal life. Also present is a
dream notebook (1926-1927) and a book of notes.
Included in this collection is a VHS video tape of Jessica Mitford's
"Memorial Celebrations" at the Lyric Theatre
in February 1997. The tape has been transferred to the Ransom Center film