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University of Texas at Austin

Hugo Manning:

A Preliminary Inventory of His Papers at the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center

Creator: Manning, Hugo, 1913-1977
Title: Hugo Manning Papers 1936-1994 (bulk 1936-1977)
Dates: 1936-1994
Extent: 41 Boxes, 4 Galley Files, 1 Oversize Flat File (17.84 Linear Feet)
Abstract: Holograph notebooks and manuscripts, typescripts, galleys, scrapbooks, address books, mixed-medium drawings and sketch books, photographs, audio tapes, and personal papers are included in the papers of this poet, journalist, and mystic.
Access: Open for research

Administrative Information

Acquisition: Reg. No. 13369
Processed by: Liz Murray, 1996

Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center, University of Texas at Austin

Biographical Sketch

Hugo Manning, poet, journalist, and mystic, has been described as a major poet with a minor reputation. Unfortunately, there is little extant biographical material written about Manning. Standard reference tools are silent and biographers have not been forthcoming. The information gathered here has been derived from personal papers, eulogies, and obituaries found in this collection. Of particular interest is a document that records the origin of Hugo Manning's name. On April 3, 1943, a "Deed Poll on Change of Name" was registered at the Central Office of the Supreme Court of Judicature whereby Lazarus Perkoff, also known as Hugh Leslie Perkoff, legally assumed the name Hugo Manning.
Lazarus Perkoff was born on July 15, 1913 at 123 Oxford Street in Mile End Road, London, to Jewish parents, Myer Perkoff, a tailor's machinist, and Rosa Perkoff (formerly Green), both born in Russian Poland. In time, Manning's father operated a sweet and tobacco shop in the East End and Manning attended the Stepney Jewish School until he was 14. Under the name Leslie Perkoff, Manning studied violin, viola, and theory from 1926 to 1931 at the Trinity College of Music, London, securing a scholarship in his last three years. In 1929, Manning pursued his violin study with the renowned European teacher Otakar Sevcik in Pisek, Czechoslovakia. For unknown reasons, Manning chose not to pursue a career in music; indeed, he appears to have been reticent about his musical talent, even with his friends.
In the early 1930s, Manning (then known as Hugh Leslie Perkoff) returned to London where he wrote weekly newspaper articles for the Sunday Referee and was a member of its editorial staff during 1935-36, among other freelance assignments. By May 1937, Manning was working in Vienna as a correspondent for the Jewish Chronicle and World Film News. From 1939 to 1942, Manning lived in Buenos Aires, Argentina where he was employed in various capacities by several newspapers and magazines including La Nación, Argentina Libre, Sur, Agonía, The Buenos Aires Herald, and The Times of Argentina. During his stay in Argentina, Manning was acquainted with leading South American literary figures such as Victoria Ocampo, Patricio Gannon with whom he edited the Argentine Anthology of Modern Verse (1942), and Jorge Luis Borges, who became his lifelong friend.
In November 1943, Manning volunteered for service in the British Army Intelligence Corps. While stationed in North Africa he suffered a leg injury and was subsequently discharged in August 1944. His injury caused him to walk with a cane for the remainder of his life.
In 1946 Manning joined the staff of Reuters, where he served for 19 years on the South American desk, working nights so he could devote his daytime hours to writing. In his last few years with Reuters, Manning became the senior sub-editor and features writer for the UK desk. He retired in 1968 and devoted the remainder of his life to literary pursuits.
Although Manning's career as a journalist began in the early 1930s, it wasn't until 1942 that his verse and prose was published privately and by small publishers including Villiers, Enitharmon Press, Village Press, and Trigram Press. Titles include The Secret Sea, Dylan Thomas, Dear Little Prince, Woman At the Window, This Room Before Sunrise, Madame Lola, Modigliani, Ishmael, and The It and the Odyssey of Henry Miller. Manning counted among his friends Denis ApIvor, Roy Campbell, Lawrence Durrell, John Cowper Powys, William Oxley, Suzan Rapoport, Derek Stanford, Phil Coram, Henry Miller, Paul Peter Piech, Alfred Perlès, Rosamond Lehmann, Jack Hammond, Muriel Spark, Alan Clodd, Kathleen Raine, David McFall, Mauricio Lasansky, and Jorge Luis Borges.
Manning's belief in a spiritual afterlife permeates much of his writing, as does the "discovery of man's role in the cosmic design." Manning believed in a purposeful existence wherein the proliferation of isolated, unique natures combine to form a transcendent wholeness guided and sustained by a "Life Force." In a letter to J. B. Priestley in 1969, Manning wrote "I consider myself to be a deeply religious person but find all systems of belief insufficient unless the question of man's immortality is looked at fearlessly …. I have had extra-sensory experiences of a revealing nature quite a number of times in my life; this has led me to undertake psychic research and the truth of man's immortality has become more than apparent to me …. Surely the acceptance of this immense truth could and would alter the pattern of most lives."

Scope and Contents

Complementing an archive of Manning Papers already received at the HRHRC, this collection spans his writing career from the 1930s to his death in 1977. Included are holograph notebooks and manuscripts, typescripts, galleys, scrapbooks, address books, mixed-medium drawings and sketch books, photographs, audio tapes, personal papers, and works of others. This collection is divided into seven Series: Holograph Notebooks; Works, Journals; Correspondence; Personal; Village Press Materials; and Writings of Others.
Manning's numerous holograph notebooks follow a consistent arrangement, which includes sequential page numbering followed by topical indexing (for example "Words and phrases for expansion, p.67-69"). Entries are sometimes dated, but due to the topical subdivisions, the dates are more random than chronological. While Manning labeled some of the notebooks with the titles of his works, they are frequently untitled. Notebooks in Subseries A are arranged by the first date that appears in the notebook, usually within the first ten pages. From the number of overlapping dates, it appears that Manning maintained work on several notebooks simultaneously. Notebooks with titles are arranged alphabetically in Subseries B. Notebooks which were neither dated nor titled are arranged according to their length in Subseries C, and are followed by notebook fragments.
The works in Series II are arranged alphabetically by title and include many forms of writing including prose, poetry, playscripts, essays, lectures, articles, and short stories. While some are holograph manuscripts, the majority are corrected typescripts, which Manning usually signed and dated. In the inventory, dates in parentheses are publication dates, while the remaining dates are those Manning assigned to the completed drafts. The works are all typescripts, unless specifically described as holograph manuscripts. Numerous versions exist for most titles and some, such as The Secret Sea, were published more than once in successive, expanded versions. In addition, galleys exist for titles including Dear Little Prince, Dylan Thomas, Encounter in Crete, Madame Lola, The It and the Odyssey of Henry Miller, and This Room Before Sunrise. A large amount of holograph and typescript fragments is also present. Manning's works were bound in heavily soiled and worn two-prong binders with paper covers. During processing, the material was disbound and the covers discarded due to their poor condition, although covers with descriptions have been retained. Apparently Manning bound his typescripts without the benefit of a hole punch, for the majority of his pages have been roughly cut out to allow placement over the two metal prongs. Frequently, the pages were bound with the last page on top, so the order of the work is reversed.
The journals in Series III are chronologically-dated typescripts in two sequences: 1943-45 and 1967-70. The years 1943-1944 represent "fragments from a Journal" and are titled "We Are Earthbound, So We Fly." These entries describe the war years, Manning's hospitalization and discharge from the service, VE day, and his reflections on the war and its aftermath. The journals for the later years are more literary in nature and, like some of the holograph notebooks, provide continual reworking of the same textual passages, both verse and prose. In an April 29, 1975 letter to F. W. Roberts, Director of the Humanities Research Center, Manning described his journals as "a compulsive endeavor …. They seem to be full of inner outpourings, factual things, trivia and so on…it is a personal and intimate record of someone witnessing the crumbling of an epoch …."
Manning's correspondence in Series IV dates from 1957 to 1994 and, like his other material, was bound in binders, with the exception of two box files. No arrangement has been imposed on his correspondence, which contains incoming letters, greeting and post cards, Manning's carbon copies of letters sent to others, and some manuscript material. The correspondence was disbound and left in its original order, thus date sequences overlap and no alphabetical or subject order exists. Typically, each binder contained correspondence with friends, acquaintances, editors, publishers, book dealers, Reuters colleagues, fellow Spiritualists and healers, and university libraries in all parts of the world. Manning regularly sent gratis copies of his works to friends, literary figures, editors, publishers, and libraries. Correspondence between Manning and Dr. F. W. Roberts, then director of the HRHRC, records the receipt of manuscript material from Manning extending over a period of thirty years. A small amount of correspondence, dating after Manning's death, exists between his brother, Jack Percal, and others concerning Manning's life and literary affairs.
Series V, Personal, contains Manning's address books, a record book, drawings, photographs, scrapbooks, newspaper clippings, and personal papers. His numerous address books record addresses of friends, authors, poets, publishers, editors, periodicals, universities, cultural associations, and book stores. Often a dated notation of manuscripts sent to individuals and libraries is provided. For example, just two weeks before his death, Manning sent a signed, corrected copy of Dylan Thomas to the University of Alberta, Edmonton.
In a record book dating from the 1970s, Manning kept a "Letters Diary" wherein he recorded the names and dates of letters sent. Meticulously indexed, this book contains numerous sections pertaining to subjects such as his finances, books loans, books to buy, possible library recipients in locations such as Teheran, Guyana, Ethiopia, Japan, and Pakistan, as well as listings of people and places to whom he sent his manuscripts.
Manning's drawings, usually rendered in bound sketchbooks, commonly employ red, blue, black, orange, and green ball point ink, although some also include pastel and crayon. His drawings use geometric shapes such as circles, triangles, and lines that form repeated patterns, sometimes quite dense and dark. In addition to his abstract works, Manning favored portraiture in which the face emerges through, or is framed by, geometric designs. One of his drawings was featured on the cover of Bertram Rota's Catalogue 168, Winter 1970. Offered for sale, the drawing is described as "Original crayon head and shoulder portrait of Henry Miller. Drawn from life in London. 1969."
The earliest photographs in the collection record Manning's stay in Pisek, Czechoslovakia in 1929 while studying violin with Otakar Sevcik. Also included are photographs of Manning taken in Vienna (1937), Buenos Aires (1939), Hampstead, London (1952), with Jorge Luis Borges in London (1971), and with Miriam Patchen (undated), as well as photographs of Manning, alone and with others, spanning his lifetime. Also included is a photographic reproduction of a drawing of Manning by the Argentinean artist Mauricio Lasansky while Manning stayed in the artist's home in Cordoba in 1942. A photograph of sculptor David McFall's bust of Manning is also present. After Manning's death, McFall designed a memorial plaque which was placed at Manning's residence in Belsize Square, London.
Manning's four scrapbooks contain newspaper and magazine clippings ranging from works published in Buenos Aires in 1938 to a piece on Samuel Beckett appearing in Adam International Review in 1970. Included are Manning's poetry, book reviews, essays, and articles as well as reviews of his own works in publications such as The Times Literary Supplement, The Manchester Guardian, World Review, Poetry Quarterly, The New English Weekly, Observer, Outposts, The Norseman, Fantasy, The Listener, La Nación, Argentina Libre, and Agonía. A number of similar clippings exist apart from the scrapbooks, especially articles published in Argentinean newspapers, plus reviews of Manning's published works.
Other personal papers include Manning's birth and death certificates, Deed Poll on Change of Name, passports, Argentinean identity card, press cards, army records, obituaries, memorials, miscellaneous items, and audio tapes.
From 1973-1974, Manning collaborated in the publications and activities of the Village Bookshop (London) and was associated with the Village Press owner/editor, Jeffrey Kwinter. Manning was instrumental in bringing to print works by Henry Miller, Alfred Perlès, and Colin Wilson. Series VI contains Village Press proofs, galleys, and other publication material for works published in 1974. Among the other authors represented are Oloff DeWet, Arthur Guirdham, Anaïs Nin, Mervyn Peake, John Cowper Powys, Douglas Stone, and Alan Watts. In its first newsletter, the Village Bookshop stated "Our basic criteria in selecting which writers and subjects to specialise in, is that they radiate the magical, mysterious approach to this experience of being alive."
The final series, Writings of Others, contains works, mostly typescripts and galleys, by Jorge Luis Borges, David Gascoyne, G. Wilson Knight, Kenneth Patchen, Alfred Perlès, Jeremy Reed, Peter Mason, M. Kianush, and Oonagh Lahr.
A small number of periodical issues were transferred to the HRC book collection.

Hugo Manning Papers--Folder List

VI. Village Press Materials

All galleys marked with an asterisk in the following list have been removed to the Galley Files