University of Texas at Austin

Philip Callow:

An Inventory of His Papers at the Harry Ransom Center

Creator: Callow, Philip, 1924-2007
Title: Philip Callow Papers
Dates: 1949-2006
Extent: 22 document boxes, 1 oversize box (9.24 linear feet), 1 galley folder (gf)
Abstract: The Philip Callow Papers, 1949-2006, consist mainly of manuscripts for novels, poetry, short stories, biographies, two autobiographical works, and a radio play representing the bulk of Callow's published writings, plus a small amount of correspondence with friends, other writers, agents, editors, and publishers.
Call Number: Manuscript Collection MS-00664
Language: English
Access: Open for research. Researchers must create an online Research Account and agree to the Materials Use Policy before using archival materials. Part or all of this collection is housed off-site and may require up to three business days’ notice for access in the Ransom Center’s Reading and Viewing Room. Please contact the Center before requesting this material:

Administrative Information

Acquisition: Purchases, 1964-2009 (R1613, R2088, R4085, R5971, R7293, R12352, R12427, R13037, R14340, R14473, R14499, 2009-04-02-P)
Processed by: Joan M. Sibley, 2010

Harry Ransom Center, The University of Texas at Austin

Biographical Sketch

Philip Kenneth Callow was born 26 October 1924 in Birmingham, England. He grew up in Coventry and left Coventry Technical College when he was apprenticed to be a toolmaker at the age of 15. This occupation exempted him from military service, and he lived in Leamington Spa during World War II and in Nottingham and Plymouth in later years. After the war, he took a variety of civil service and clerical jobs and began writing in his spare time.
Many of Callow's novels draw from his own experiences growing up in a working-class home in the Midlands and touch upon his education, employment, and the hardships experienced in wartime and postwar England. His first novel, The Hosanna Man (1956), was very well reviewed, but the threat of a lawsuit by an individual who claimed to recognize himself in the book led publisher Jonathan Cape to withdraw and pulp all unsold copies rather than fight a libel case. The book still managed to win several awards and Callow received an Arts Council grant that enabled him to write full-time.
Among his 16 novels, the trilogy formed by Going to the Moon (1968), The Bliss Body (1969), and Flesh of Morning (1971) was perhaps his best-received and appreciated fictional work. Callow also published several volumes of poetry (his first collection, Turning Point, appeared in 1964) as well as short stories, plays, and also essays and book reviews contributed to New Statesman, Spectator, Tribune, Listen, and Vogue.
At the suggestion of his agent, Callow also wrote biographies of the figures he most admired, beginning with fellow-Midlander and stylistic influence D. H. Lawrence (Son and Lover, 1975). Callow's talents as both poet and lifelong amateur painter contributed to his ability to render a series of sensitive biographical portraits of several other writers and artists, including Anton Chekhov, Paul Cezanne, Robert Louis Stevenson, Vincent Van Gogh, and Walt Whitman. He also published two autobiographical works, In My Own Land (1965) and Passage from Home (2002).
Callow was married to Irene Christian Vallance (1952-1973), Penelope Jane Newman (1974-1987), and Anne Jennifer Golby (1987-2007). He died on 22 September 2007, survived by his wife Anne and a daughter from his first marriage, Fleur Alyse Harvey.


Belbin, David. "Philip Callow." The Independent, 27 September 2007, (accessed 13 October 2010).
"Philip Callow." Times Online Obituary, 25 September 2007, (accessed 13 October 2010).
"Philip Kenneth Callow." Contemporary Authors Online, (accessed 13 October 2010).

Scope and Contents

The Philip Callow Papers, 1949-2006, consist mainly of manuscripts for novels, poetry, short stories, biographies, two autobiographical works, and a radio play representing the bulk of Callow's published writings, plus a small amount of correspondence with friends, other writers, agents, editors, and publishers. The papers are arranged into two series: I. Works, 1949-2004, and II. Correspondence, 1952-2006. Part of this collection was previously accessible through a card catalog but has been recataloged as part of a retrospective conversion project.
Series I. Works makes up the great majority of the collection and consists of drafts and proofs for Callow's works. Arranged alphabetically by title, these include manuscripts for nearly all of Callow's published output plus an early unpublished novel (A Hood for the Brightness, 1949), an untitled work (My friend…, 1952) in the form of a letter, Time for Johnnie (a juvenile version of Some Love, 1991), and a collaborative epistolary work (Open Cage, 1961) written with Ronald Hall. In addition to manuscripts for most of his published collections of poetry, there are also several other proposed collections that include poems eventually published in other volumes. Manuscripts for all of the autobiographical and biographical works are present, often accompanied by research materials, outlines, notes, illustrations, blurbs, dust jacket designs, and reviews. All manuscript titles appear in the folder list in this finding aid.
Correspondence in Series II. makes up only a single box of the papers and has been subdivided into outgoing and incoming letters, and subsequently arranged alphabetically by the name of the recipient or the author. Much of the correspondence concerns the publication of his works, such as letters with agents, editors, and publishers. Best represented correspondents include Graham Ackroyd, Bodley Head (Firm), Peter Day (Allison & Busby), Ivan R. Dee (Ivan R. Dee, Inc., Publisher), Elizabeth Fairbairn (John Johnson Author's Agent Limited), Ray Gosling, John Killick (Littlewood Press), John Lucas (Shoestring Press), Carol O'Brien (Constable Publishers), and David Tipton. There are also letters from fellow authors, including Elizabeth Berridge, Norman Mailer, Stanley Middleton, John Cowper Powys, and J. B. Priestley. An index of all correspondent names is included in this finding aid.

Related Material

Additional letters written by Philip Callow are present in the Ransom Center's manuscript collections for Francis Henry King, John Lehmann, and J. B. Priestley.

Separated Material

The Literary File in the Photography Collection contains a portrait of Philip Callow by Nicholas Elder. There is a single folder for Callow in the Center's Vertical File Collection containing two newspaper clippings of articles by or about Callow and a series of 14 printed postcards with poems by Callow and graphics by Geoff Clarke.

Container List