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Eric Walter White:

An Inventory of His Papers at the Harry Ransom Center

Creator: White, Eric Walter, 1905-1985
Title: Eric Walter White Papers
Dates: 1913-1985, 1987
Extent: 54 document boxes, 9 oversize boxes, 3 galley folders (gf) (27.76 linear feet)
Abstract: The papers of British musicologist, composer, translator, editor, poet, writer, and arts administrator Eric Walter White date from 1913 to 1987 and consist primarily of manuscripts, correspondence, and research materials related to his works on English opera, including his books on Benjamin Britten, Igor Stravinsky, and Michael Tippett. Also present are manuscripts and clippings of his poetry, short stories, reviews, articles, and lectures; papers related to his involvement with various arts organizations; and his personal correspondence, diaries, notebooks, photographs, and similar material.
Call Number: Manuscript Collection MS-4489
Language: English, French, German, and Italian
Access:

Open for research




Acquisition:

Purchase, 1992 (R12571)

Processed by:

Katherine Mosley, 2011

Repository:

The University of Texas at Austin, Harry Ransom Center


Musicologist, composer, translator, editor, poet, writer, and arts administrator Eric Walter White was born in Bristol, England, on September 10, 1905. He was the first of three sons born to Percy Walter White, a doctor, and Ethalind Charlotte Chambers White, a singer before her marriage. He was educated at Clifton College, Bristol (1916-1924) and Balliol College, Oxford (1924-1927). After receiving his B.A. from Oxford in English Language and Literature, with honors, White worked in Berlin and Potsdam as an English tutor for the Louis Hagen family. Through Hagen, White met silhouette artist and filmmaker Lotte Reiniger and collaborated with her on her films Harlequin (1932), for which White arranged and scored the musical accompaniment; The Little Chimney Sweep (1935), for which White arranged the musical accompaniment and wrote the scenario; and Galathea (1935), for which White composed the score. White published the scenario of The Little Chimney Sweep (1936) and wrote Walking Shadows (1931), a book-length essay on Reiniger's silhouette films, which brought her to the attention of the British public. White also published a book on the cinema, Parnassus to Let: An Essay about Rhythm in the Films (1928), and published the first essay in English on filmmaker Bertolt Brecht.

From 1929 to 1933, White worked as a translator and minute-writer at the League of Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, before returning to England. In 1935, he began working as an administrative officer in the Rural Department of the National Council of Social Service. In 1942, White was appointed Assistant Secretary of the Council for the Encouragement of Music and the Arts, and he continued in that office when it became the Arts Council of Great Britain in 1945 until his retirement in 1971. From 1966 to 1971, he also served as the Arts Council's first Literature Director. White was awarded the Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 1967 and the Queen's Silver Jubilee Medal in 1977.

An expert on English opera, White wrote The Rise of English Opera (1951) and The History of English Opera (1983). In addition, he compiled A Register of First Performances of English Operas and Semi-Operas from the 16th Century to 1980 (1983). White authored three books on Igor Stravinsky, including Stravinsky: The Composer and His Works (1966), as well as works on Benjamin Britten( Benjamin Britten: A Sketch of His Life and Works ,1949; later revised edition titled Benjamin Britten: His Life and Operas, 1970) and Michael Tippett( Tippett and His Operas, 1979). He wrote numerous articles, reviews, entries in reference works, program notes for musical performances, and liner notes; lectured widely on topics relating to music and the Arts Council; organized music festivals; and contributed to several radio programs.

White also had an interest in poetry; he served as a founder, first secretary (1954-1971), and chair (1977-1979) of the Poetry Book Society and was involved with festivals such as the Cambridge Poetry Festival and Ilkey Literature Festival. He was a member of the committee for the National Manuscript Collection of Contemporary Poets (later Writers), established in 1963 by the Arts Council to purchase manuscripts of living British writers. White developed friendships with Patricia Beer, Ted Hughes, Stevie Smith, H. D., and other poets, and wrote a book on H. D, Images of H. D. (1976). White's own poetry was published in The Room and Other Poems, 1921-1926 (1927), A Tarot Deal (1962), and Beginnings (1976).

White married Edith Dorothy “Dodo” Swinburne (1909-1977) on December 15,1939, and they had two children: Valentine, who died young, and Sarah Swinburne White. Eric Walter White died in London on September 13, 1985.


Contemporary Authors Online, http://galenet.galegroup.com (accessed 26 March 2010).

"EWW", handwritten autobiography in White's 1977-1979 Notebook, folder 41.22, in the Ransom Center's Eric Walter White papers.

"Notes on the White and Chambers Families [for my Canadian nephews and nieces]", handwritten family notes in White's 1969D Notebook, folder 41.7, in the Ransom Center's Eric Walter White papers.


Eric Walter White's papers, dating from 1913 to 1987, consist primarily of manuscripts, correspondence, and research materials related to his works on English opera, including his books on Benjamin Britten, Igor Stravinsky, and Michael Tippett. Also present are manuscripts and clippings of his poetry, short stories, reviews, articles, and lectures; papers related to his involvement with various arts organizations; and his personal correspondence, diaries, notebooks, photographs, and similar material. The collection is arranged in four series: I. Works and Subject Files (1913-1983 and undated, 30 boxes, 1 oversize box, 3 galley folders); II. Personal and Career-Related Material (1905-1983 and 1987, 18 boxes); Series. III. Correspondence (1923-1985 and undated, 5 boxes); and IV. Music Manuscripts (1920-1974 and undated, 6 oversize boxes).

White's file titles and contents have been maintained, although the files are now arranged alphabetically by title. Within files White usually placed materials in reverse chronological order, with the most recent items at the front. While most of the material is in English, some letters, drafts, and clippings are in French, German, and Italian.

As an arts administrator, a noted musicologist, and a published poet and composer, White came into contact with and developed friendships with notable writers, poets and musicians of the twentieth century, especially in England; these connections are reflected throughout the archive. In particular, White became close friends with German silhouette artist and filmmaker Lotte Reiniger, publisher Bettina Hurlimann, composers Michael Tippett and Benjamin Britten, and poets H. D., Ted Hughes (whom White assisted with an Arts Council grant and with the sale of his manuscripts), and Adrian Stokes. Correspondence and manuscripts by and about these individuals are a highlight of the White papers.

Manuscripts of most of White's own works are present, beginning with a poem written at age eight, “My Brother.” White's books The Arts Council of Great Britain, Benjamin Britten: A Sketch of His Life and Works (later revised and titled Benjamin Britten: His Life and Operas ), A History of English Opera, Images of H. D., A Register of First Performances of English Operas, The Rise of English Opera, Poetry Book Society: The First Twenty-Five Years, Stravinsky: A Critical Survey, Stravinsky: The Composer and His Works, and Tippett and His Operas are represented by research notes, handwritten manuscripts, typescripts, proofs, and correspondence; however, only a typescript fragment of White's translation of Robert Siohan's Stravinsky, proofs of illustrations for his published scenario of The Little Chimney Sweep, and proofs of Parnassus to Let, Stravinsky's Sacrifice to Apollo, and Walking Shadows represent those works. Among manuscripts of White's short stories are the published “The Honest Lovers,” “Marie and the Journeyman,” “Mourning Sunshine,” “No Accident,” “Off the Road,” “Opatrnostr!,” “Wander Birds,” and “The Warm Brother.” White's numerous poems and his poetry collections Beginnings, The Room and Other Poems, A Tarot Deal, and the unpublished Poems: After The Room, are present, as are reviews, lectures, essays, liner notes, program notes, and reference entries, including his contributions to The Annual Register. An index of works by White and others provided at the end of this finding aid identifies all locations of a particular work, including the drafts in White's notebooks in Series II.

Files documenting the activities of festivals and organizations with which White was involved, such as the Arvon Foundation, Cambridge Poetry Festival, Consort of Musicke, David Jones Sociey, Ilkey Literature Festival, Little Missenden Festival, and the Society for Theatre Research, contain correspondence, agendas, meeting minutes, reports, and similar material. These are found in White's Personal and Career-Related Material in Series II. Other items located in the series include diaries, notebooks, scrapbooks, photographs, travel files, and files on Ted Hughes, Ninette De Valois, Bettina and Martin Hurlimann, among others. White's notebooks cover the years 1938 to 1980 and contain research notes, journal entries, and drafts of works and correspondence; the drafts and letters are accessible through the index of works and index of corresponents at the end of this finding aid.

Series III is made up of White's correspondence files. Major correspondents in White's papers include Benjamin Britten, H. D., Ted Hughes, Bettina Hurliamann, Lotte Reiniger, Adrian Stokes, Michael Tippett, Denis White, and Dodo White. In addition, there are one or more letters from W. H. Auden, Samuel Beckett, Patricia Beer, Edmund Blunden, Ronald Bottrall, James Bridie, Bryher, Basil Bunting, Charles Causley, T. S. Eliot, E. M. Forster, Christopher Fry, Roy Fuller, Eric Gill, Robert Graves, Thom Gunn, Hilda Doolittle, Seamus Heaney, Barbara Hepworth, David Jones, James Kirkup, Philip Larkin, Brian Patten, Peter Pears, John Piper, Sylvia Plath, William Plomer, Peter Porter, Peter Redgrove, Edgell Rickword, Siegfried Sassoon, George Bernard Shaw, Stevie Smith, Stephen Spender, Igor Stravinsky, Dylan Thomas, R. S. Thomas, Sylvia Townsend Warner, Vernon Watkins, Egon Wellesz, Johnathan Williams, Angus Wilson, Virginia Woolf, and many other significant poets, artists, and musicians of the twentieth century. While some correspondence is separated in White's correspondence files in Series III., much is scattered throughout his papers. A complete index of correspondents at the end of this finding aid contains locations for all correspondence in the collection, including drafts of White's outgoing letters found in his notebooks in Series II.

Series IV. Music Manuscripts consists of White's own compositions; original scores by Michael Tippett, John B. Cheshire, Julian Fuchs, Hans Gellhorn, John Guthrie, and Kerreth Quinn-Kinney; facsimiles of scores by Alan Stout; and transcriptions made by White of scores by Benjamin Britten, Igor Stravinsky, and Kurt Weill. The music manuscripts are included in the index of works located at the end of this finding aid.


The following Ransom Center collections also contain Eric Walter White-related materials:

  • Alfred A. Knopf, Inc.
  • Blakeston, Oswell
  • Scorpion Press
  • Shaw, George Bernard
  • Sitwell, Edith, Dame
Other institutions with Eric Walter White materials include:
  • McMaster University, William Ready Division of Archives and Research Collections. White fonds.
  • University of Calgary Library, Special Collections. Eric White fonds.
  • University of New Hampshire Library, Milne Special Collections. Sceptre Press Papers.
  • University of Tulsa, McFarlin Library, Department of Special Collections and University Archives. Additional Papers of John Rolph and the Scorpion Press.
  • Washington University in St. Louis Libraries, Department of Special Collections, Olin Library. Erica Marx Papers.
  • Yale University, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library. Bryher Papers and H. D. Papers.


279 books which arrived with the White Papers have been removed from the archive and cataloged separately with the Ransom Center's Library.

Two cassettes and two reel-to-reel tapes that arrived with the White Papers have been transferred to the Ransom Center's Sound Recordings Collection.

Two embroidered bookmarks have been removed from the White Papers and housed in the Center's Personal Effects Collection.


People

Britten, Benjamin, 1913-1976

H. D. (Hilda Doolittle), 1886-1961

Hughes, Ted, 1930-1998

Hürlimann, Bettina, 1909-1983

Hürlimann-Kiepenheuer, Martin

Reiniger, Lotte

Stravinsky, Igor, 1882-1971

Tippett, Michael, 1905-1998

Organizations

Arts Council of Great Britain

Poetry Book Society

Subjects

Animated films

Art and state

Art Festivals

Arts administrators

Arts--Finance

Arts--Management

Authors, English--20th century

English poetry--20th century

Musicologists

Musicology

Opera--Biography

Operas --Anaylysis, appreciation

Operas -- 20th century

Operas--Performances--England

Poets, English

Silhouettes

Document Types

Address books

Black-and-white photographs

Commonplace books

Correspondence

Diaries

Doodles

Drawings

Galley proofs

Greeting cards

Librettos

Newspaper clippings

Page proofs

Photographs

Postcards

Programs

Scores

Scrapbooks

Sheet music

Silhouettes