University of Delaware Library

Special Collections Department

Letters to
Richard Cobden Sanderson

1912 - 1964

Manuscript Collection Number: 333
Accessioned: Purchase, December 1995.
Extent: ca. 375 items (.6 ft.).
Content: Letters, prospectus, documents.
Access: The collection is open for research.
Processed: November 1996 by Anita A. Wellner.

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Table of Contents

Biographical Note

Publisher Richard Cobden Sanderson was the son of British bookbinder and printer Thomas James Cobden Sanderson (1840-1922), who founded the Doves Press, at Hammersmith, a borough of greater London . In 1919 Richard Cobden Sanderson established himself as a publisher, with partners Kenneth Rae and Boofie Gore (later Lord Arran). From his office at Thavies Inn, Holborn, Cobden Sanderson earned a reputation for publishing books noted for the quality of their content and presentation.

Early publications by Cobden Sanderson and company featured T. S. Eliot's The Waste Land and his magazine, Criterion, as well as several works on Shelley, including Poems of Shelley. Between 1919 and 1939, when Cobden Sanderson retired from publishing, the firm published much of the work of Edmund Blunden, Adrian Bell, and H. J. Massingham. Cobden Sanderson also published titles by Maria Edgeworth, David Gascoyne, Dorothy Wellesley, and John Beresford, as well as several books illustrated by Rex Whistler, including The New Keepsake and an edition of Andersen's Fairy Tales.

Following his retirement from publishing as World War II was beginning, Cobden Sanderson served as a spotter of enemy aircraft near his home and in other volunteer capacities, as did his wife Gwladys (Sally). Although his retirement was spent in country life, Cobden Sanderson maintained close relationships with many of the authors whose work he issued. Many of them sought out his cottage in Crendon for conversation and relaxation.

Richard Cobden Sanderson died on October 1, 1964.


Obituary. The Times. October 3, 1964.

Scope and Contents Note

Spanning the dates 1912-1964, the letters to Richard Cobden Sanderson consist of over 375 letters (.6 linear feet), several documents, and a prospectus for Cobden Sanderson's publication, The Annual. The two documents, issued by the Superintendent of Monuments of Pisa, Italy, are in reference to a monetary contribution related to Anne Cobden Sanderson and Ellen Melicent Cobden.

The bulk of the letters are from William Force Stead, Philip Tomlinson, Adrian Bell, and Kenneth Rae. Also present in the collection are nine letters from Frank Swinnerton, an acceptance of an invitation from Louis Golding, two letters from H. J. Massingham, a card from Mary Blunden, a letter from Sylvia Blunden with a postscript by Edmund Blunden, as well as letters from several other friends and associates.

Although most of the letters are addressed to Richard Cobden Sanderson, some are written to his wife Gwladys (Sally), and certainly most refer to her. The letters reflect the deep friendships formed between the Cobden Sandersons and their acquaintances and publishing associates. Although a few letters written prior to his retirement from the publishing business, particularly from Adrian Bell and Philip Tomlinson, refer to books being published by Cobden Sanderson or to some aspect of his publications, most of the letters are filled with more personal matters and tend to chronicle the daily lives of the writers.

Letters written during World War II offer vivid and detailed accounts of life in Great Britain during the war. The bombing of London, the displacement of families, rationing, the necessity for vegetable gardening and livestock management by anyone with land, the loss of friends and family, work at the Ministry of Information, and the volunteer work done by Cobden Sanderson and his friends, are all detailed in letters written by Adrian Bell, Kenneth Rae, and William Force Stead. Together these letters provide an extraordinary portrait of life in London and in the countryside of England during the war.

Other highlights among this collection of letters are the references to Edmund Blunden by several correspondents, a letter from Kenneth Rae devoted entirely to Rex Whistler after news of his death in battle, and William Force Stead's long verse self caricature titled "The Lover Casts Off His Old Clothes, a Sartorial Ode for His Nymph."

Contents List

Box -- Folder -- Contents

 1         Series I.  Letters to Richard Cobden Sanderson, 1928-1964
               Letters are written to Richard Cobden Sanderson unless otherwise

     F1   Bell, Adrian, 1901-1980.
     -6   1930-1964      Letters   273p

          F1   1930-1932
          F2   1933-1939
          F3   1940-1947
          F4   1952-1964
          F5   [n.d.]
          F6   Family letters, 1946-1961
                    Note:  Includes letters from other Bell family members, including
                    his wife, Marjorie, and his daughter, Anthea.

     F7   Blunden, Edmund
          1933 Nov 18    ANS       1p
                    Note:  Written on the bottom of a letter from Sylvia Blunden to
                    Cobden Sanderson.

          Blunden, Mary
          1921 Mar 20    ACS       1p

          Blunden, Sylvia
          1933 Nov 18    ALS       2p
                    Note:  Includes an ANS from Edmund Blunden on the bottom of
                    the second page.

     F8   Bright, Philip
          1935 Mar 27    ANS       1p

     F9   Browne, Wynyard
          1959 Jul 20    TLS       1p
          [n.d.]         ALS       1p
                    Note: Also includes a letter dated March 1964 from Joan which
                    informs Cobden Sanderson of Browne's death.

     F10  Golding, Louis, 1895-1958.
          1933 Nov 14    ANS       1p

     F11  Gosse, Edmund, 1849-1928.
               To William
          [1928 May 9]    TL (c)         1p
                    Note: Copy of a letter written by Gosse one week before his death.

1         Series I.  Letters to Cobden Sanderson (cont'd)

     F12  Johnson, John
          1935 Apr 8     TLS       1p

     F13  Massingham, H. J. (Harold John), 1888-1952.
          1933 Feb 3     ALS       2p
          [n.d.]         ALS       1p

     F14  Paish, George, Sir, 1867-
          1935 Apr 5     ALS       1p

     F15  Rae, Kenneth
     -18  1939-1963      Letters   146p

          F15  1939-1940
          F16  1941-1942
          F17  1943-1947
          F18  1955-1963
                    Note: Includes a prospectus for Cobden Sanderson's publication,
                    The Annual.

2    F19  Saunders, Silvia
          [n.d.]         ALS       1p

     F20  Spring, Howard, 1889-1965.
          [n.y.] Apr 2   ALS       1p

     F21  Stead, William Force
     -26  1925-1963      Letters   262p

          F21  1925-1926
          F22  1927-1929
          F23  1930-1931
          F24  1933-1946
          F25  1947-1963
          F26  [n.d.]
     F27  Swinnerton, Frank, 1884-
          1935 Mar 24         ALS       1p
               Mar 30         ALS       1p
          1936 Sep 9          ALS       1p
          1937 May 28         ALS       1p
               Jun 3          ALS       2p
               Jun 24         ALS       1p 
               Jul 10         ALS       1p
               Jul 31         ALS       1p
               Aug 6          ALS       1p
          1963 Nov 1          ALS       2p
          1964 Jan 17         ALS       2p

     F28  Thorp, Joseph
          [1935]              ACS       1p

     F29  Tomlinson, Philip
     -31  1928-1947           Letters   88p

          F29  1928-1934
          F30  1936-1944
          F31  1945-1947
                    Note: Includes a letter from Em Tomlinson.

     F32  Unwin, T. Fisher
          1934 Jul 21         ACS       2p

     F33  Unidentified, 1912-1935
          Consists of sixteen documents, including letters, one congratulatory card for
          Richard and Sally Cobden Sanderson in 1912 (signed by 41 friends), and two
          documents in Italian which refer to Anne Cobden Sanderson and Ellen Melicent

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