Senate House Library has the largest collection of materials relating to the life and work of poet, playwright, critic, designer and engraver T. Sturge Moore (1870-1944). In accordance with Sturge Moore’s own wishes, his papers arrived in the Library in several tranches, the earliest being deposited in the mid-1960s. The collection (MS 978) is now fully catalogued and available for research, together with a collection of books from Sturge Moore’s personal library acquired by the Institute of English Studies (School of Advanced Study) in 2009. An additional set of papers, which includes a letter from T.S. Eliot, was also acquired in 2009 (MS 1159) and is now being processed and will be available soon to researchers.
Thomas Sturge Moore, elder brother of the Cambridge philosopher G.E. Moore, was a prolific artist and influential figure in the early decades of the twentieth century. Training at the art schools of Croydon and Lambeth, he became friends with Charles Ricketts and Charles Shannon, who invited him to contribute verse and criticism to several of their magazine ventures. His earliest volume, The Vinedresser and Other Poems (1899), gained him early notoriety; his friend Laurence Binyon and the Irish poet W.B. Yeats awarded the collection some generous praise. Yeats, who had surrounded himself with the best poets of the generation in the Rhymers’ Club, was eager to make Sturge Moore’s acquaintance; the two men met a year later in Binyon’s flat and remained close friends until Yeats’s death in 1939. During his lifetime, Sturge Moore published over 35 books, mostly poetry and verse drama, but also books on art and aesthetics, and editions of the poetry of Michael Field and selections from the letters and journals of Charles Ricketts.
The Sturge Moore papers (around 90 files boxes containing well over 10,000 items) are, par excellence, the archive of a man of letters. Sturge Moore lived for art and for literature, and the thousands of family and business letters (incoming and outgoing), postcards, printed ephemera, newspaper clippings, diaries, notebooks, legal documents, accounts, royalty statements, drawings and designs, as well as rough drafts, fair copies, typescript and page proofs, and well over a hundred annotated books and presentation copies that once were part of his working library give a unique insight into Sturge Moore’s mind and work. His personal friendships and professional engagements with such wide-ranging writers, critics and artists as Wyndham Lewis, Richard Aldington, T.S. Eliot, G.B. Shaw, R.C. Trevelyan, Robert Bridges, Edmund Blunden, Edmund Gosse, Walter de la Mare, Lucien Pissarro, and Ethel and Sybil Pye make the Sturge Moore archive an invaluable resource for the understanding of literary and artistic culture of the time.
The books and archives are part of Senate House Library’s Special Collections. The archive catalogue is available at: http://archives.ulrls.lon.ac.uk/resources/MS978.pdf. The books are on the online catalogue, http://catalogue.ulrls.lon.ac.uk/search~S1; a full overview can be obtained by doing a mixed/local classmark search on [S.M.C.]. For guidance on requesting and using items, see: http://www.shl.lon.ac.uk/specialcollections/finding.shtml.
On 24 May, I will be giving a talk on "T. Sturge Moore: Man of Letters" to SHeLF: the friends of the Senate House Library.
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