University of Delaware Library

Special Collections Department

Walter De La Mare
Letters to
John Middleton Murry

1920 - 1945
(bulk dates 1920 - 1924)

Manuscript Collection Number: 182
Accessioned: Purchase, August 1990.
Extent: 33 items ( 61 pp.).
Content: Letters.
Access: The collection is open for research.
Processed: 1991-1992 by Anita A. Wellner.

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Table of Contents

Biographical Note

Walter de la Mare, born April 25, 1873, in Charlton, Kent, England, was a British novelist, essayist, critic, playwright, poet, editor, as well as an author of short stories and children's books. One of his earliest works, published in 1902 while de la Mare was employed by an oil company, was a collection of children's verse, Songs of Childhood, written under the pseudonym Walter Ramal. Following the publication of his novel, Henry Brocken, in 1904 and several other early volumes, de la Mare devoted the remainder of his life almost exclusively to writing.

He wrote numerous short stories and poems, many of which reveal his interest in the macabre. Among the most notable collections of these works are The Veil and Other Poems (1921) and the posthumous Ghost Stories (1956). Memoirs of a Midget (1921), considered de la Mare's most popular novel, details the experiences of a character named Fanny Bowater. De la Mare also wrote several critical works, including Some Women Novelists of the 'Seventies (1929). Walter de la Mare died on June 22, 1956.

De la Mare's letters were written to British journalist and author John Middleton Murry, who was well known for his passionate and controversial criticism. Before 1910 he founded the avant-garde magazine Rhythm. He later worked as a journalist for the Westminster Gazette and Nation. With the encouragement of D. H. Lawrence, Murry published several books of criticism, including Fyodor Dostoevsky (1916) and The Problem of Style (1920).

Murry married writer Katherine Mansfield in 1913. A number of de la Mare's letters refer to Katherine Mansfield and her writing. Several letters include de la Mare's expressions of grief at her death in 1923.

Katherine Mansfield Beauchamp, born October 14, 1888, in Wellington, New Zealand, was best known for her short stories, especially those about New Zealand. Many of the New Zealand stories were collected in Bliss (1920) and The Garden Party (1922). Other works written by Mansfield included In a German Pension (1911), The Dove's Nest and Other Stories (1923), The Little Girl and Other Stories (1924), as well as numerous works edited by Murry and published posthumously.


Locher, Frances C. (ed.). Contemporary Authors. Volume 104. Detroit: Gale Research Company, 1982. p. 31.

May, Hal (ed.). Contemporary Authors. Volume 118. Detroit: Gale Research Company, 1986. p. 342.

May, Hal (ed.). Contemporary Authors. Volume 110. Detroit: Gale Research Company, 1984. p. 142.

Scope, Content, and Arrangement Note

The Walter de la Mare Letters to John Middleton Murry consists of 32 letters written between 1920-1924, as well as one letter written in 1945. The letters are arranged chronologically in three folders.

The letters concern a variety of subjects including literary projects, vacation and dinner invitations, a possible academic appointment for Aldous Huxley, Katherine Mansfield's writing and death, and de la Mare's poetry.

The fourth folder contains a custom-made case in which the letters were housed when they were part of H. Bradley Martin's collection. Martin's bookplate is attached to the inside front cover of the case.

Contents List

Folder -- Contents

   Series I.  Letters of Walter de la Mare to John Middleton 
          Murry, 1920-1945

F1   Letters, 1920-1921
     Autograph letters and notes.  12 items (26 pp.).

F2   Letters, 1922-1923
     Autograph and typed letters.  14 items (23 pp.).

F3   Letters, 1924, 1945 and [n.d.]
     Autograph and typed letters.  7 items (12 pp.).

F4   Custom-made case, [n.d.]
     With H. Bradley Martin bookplate. 
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