Harry Ransom CenterThe University of Texas at Austin

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Denton Welch:

An Inventory of His Papers in the Manuscript Collection at the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center

Creator: Welch, Denton, 1915-1948
Title: Denton Welch Papers
Dates: 1770-2002 (bulk 1938-1982)
Extent: 10 boxes, 1 galley file (4.2 linear feet)
Abstract: The Denton Welch papers document the artist-author’s creative life in the last eight years of his life, 1940 to 1948. Included in the papers are manuscripts, correspondence, personal documents, and biographical materials.
RLIN Record ID: TXRC06-A26
Language: English
Access:

Open for research.

This collection was previously accessible through a card catalog, but has been re-cataloged as part of a retrospective conversion project.




Acquisition:

Purchase and gift, 1957-2006

Processed by:

Bob Taylor, 2006

Repository:

The University of Texas at Austin, Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center


Maurice Denton Welch was born to Rosalind and Arthur Joseph Welch in Shanghai on March 29, 1915, the youngest of four sons. The maternal and paternal sides of the family had for a considerable period been successfully involved in commercial ventures in China, and the Welch sons were raised in comfortable circumstances. In 1924 Denton was sent, like his elder brothers, to England for schooling. Following his mother’s death in 1927 the bright but eccentric youth struggled with his mother’s loss and a feeling of alienation at school, culminating in his running away from Repton School in 1931.

Following a year spent, at his father’s suggestion, in Shanghai, Denton Welch returned to England in 1933 and enrolled in the Goldsmith School of Art in London. Two years later injuries received when he was struck by an automobile terminated his scholastic career and led to medical complications to which he eventually succumbed. After his discharge from a nursing home at Broadstairs, Kent in 1936 Denton Welch moved with housekeeper Evelyn Sinclair to rural western Kent, where he lived for the remainder of his life.

In his Kentish retirement Welch continued to paint and draw and had his first exhibition at the Leicester Galleries in 1941. From the first years of World War II Denton Welch also began to pursue, with increasing success, a literary career, initially publishing poems in literary magazines during 1941 and maintaining a journal.

His "Sickert at St. Paul’s," an account of Welch’s meeting with the artist Walter Sickert (1860-1942) during the early stages of his recuperation at Broadstairs, appeared in the August 1942 issue of Horizon, attracting (with Welch’s encouragement) the attention of Edith Sitwell. His autobiographical novel Maiden Voyage was accepted for publication by George Routledge and Sons, and, with Sitwell’s foreword and strong pre-publication review, was sold out before its May 1943 publication.

Welch’s arrival as a novelist during 1943 was followed by his introduction to Eric Oliver, who soon became his friend and life partner. As his health deteriorated in the mid-1940s Denton Welch worked as he was able to finish a second novel, In Youth Is Pleasure (1945), as well as to continue writing short stories, several of which were collected in Brave and Cruel and Other Stories (1949). His last novel, A Voice through a Cloud, was unfinished at his death on December 30, 1948, but eventually appeared in print in 1950.


De-la-Noy, Michael. Denton Welch. Harmondsworth, Middlesex: Viking, 1984.

Laughlin, Charlotte Gay. "A Catalogue of the Denton Welch Collection at the University of Texas." Ph.D. diss., University of Texas at Austin, 1975.

Welch, Denton. The Denton Welch Journals, edited and with an introduction by Jocelyn Brooke. London: Hamish Hamilton, 1952.


The Denton Welch papers document the artist-author’s creative life in the last eight years of his life, 1940 to 1948. Included in the papers are manuscripts, correspondence, personal documents, and biographical materials. The bulk of these materials were bequeathed to Eric Oliver in Welch’s will, and were subsequently added to by other acquisitions from friends and researchers of Denton Welch. The present organization is one created at the Ransom Center and arranges the collection in three series: I. Works, 1940-84, II. Correspondence, 1938-48, and III. Other Papers, 1770-2002. This collection was previously accessible through a card catalog, but has been re-cataloged as part of a retrospective conversion project.

Series I, Works, includes manuscripts for Denton Welch’s novels, short stories, and poems written between 1940 and 1948, many being represented by variant drafts. While most of the manuscripts are present as rough handwritten drafts, Brave and Cruel and Other Stories , In Youth Is Pleasure, and Maiden Voyage are also represented by typescripts. The author’s title page design for In Youth Is Pleasure is present in the series; other sketches found in his notebooks document Denton Welch’s graphic designs on his own published works.

An index of works by title, or by first line or phrase for untitled works, is included in this finding aid. Drafts and fragments of the numerous short poems found in multiple locations in the series of notebooks kept by Welch are not included in the index, but may be found using Charlotte Laughlin’s "A Catalogue of the Denton Welch Collection." Citations to entries in Laughlin’s bibliography are noted parenthetically in the folder list.

Series II, Correspondence, embraces the letters sent and received by Denton Welch in the last eight years of his life. A significant amount of correspondence from Welch to his friends Noël Adeney, Maurice Cranston, Eric Oliver, and Helen Roeder finds place in the series, along with correspondence to Welch from, among others, Julian Goodman, Thomas Hennell, Henry Moore, Edward Sackville-West, and Edith Sitwell.

Series III, Other Papers, comprises two subseries, the first of which is correspondence received by Eric Oliver after Welch’s death. Correspondents include David Archer, Jocelyn Brooke, Cyril and Barbara Connolly, Richard Newton, Harold Nicholson, and Vita Sackville-West. The final subseries includes Hector Bolitho’s notes on Denton Welch, along with some correspondence to Bolitho from Eric Oliver. Also present in the subseries are photographs and personal documents of Welch.


Additional material relating to Welch can be found in the Harry Ransom Center in the Vertical File Collection.Other manuscript collections at the Harry Ransom Center relating to Denton Welch include those of Maurice Cranston, Robert Rubens, and Edith Sitwell.


Denton Welch’s paintings, drawings, and sketchbooks are held by the Ransom Center’s Art Collection and are described in a separate finding aid.


People

Archer, David.

Asquith, Margot, 1864-1945.

Bagnall, Stephen.

Berners, Gerald Hugh Tyrwhitt-Wilson, Baron, 1883-1950.

Bolitho, Hector, 1897-1974.

Brooke, Jocelyn.

Colefax, Sibyl, 1874-1950.

Connolly, Barbara.

Connolly, Cyril, 1903-1974.

Cranston, Maurice William, 1920- .

De-la-Noy, Michael, 1934- .

Goodman, Julian.

Hennell, Thomas, 1903-1945.

Moore, Henry, 1898-1986.

Newton, Richard.

Nicolson, Harold George, Sir, 1886-1968.

Oliver, Eric.

Sackville-West, Edward, Hon., 1901-1965.

Sackville-West, V. (Victoria), 1892-1962.

Sitwell, Edith, Dame, 1887-1964.

Sitwell, Osbert, 1892-1969.

Walbrand-Evans, May.

Subjects

Authors, English--20th century--Biography.

Artists--England--Biography.

Document Types

Christmas cards.

Drawings.

Journals.

Legal documents.

Negatives.

Photographs.

Postcards.