University of Texas, Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center

Stephen Spender:

An Inventory of His Collection at the Harry Ransom Center

Creator: Spender, Stephen, 1909-1995
Title: Stephen Spender Collection
Dates: 1925-1995, undated
Abstract: Includes manuscripts and correspondence of the British poet, critic, and essayist Stephen Spender. In addition to his manuscripts for a variety of works, diaries, and notebooks of poetry and prose, there is correspondence with Roy Campbell, Cyril Connolly, Walter De La Mare, André Gide, Wyndham Lewis, George Orwell, H. G. Wells, Virginia Woolf, David Wright, and others. Files from his literary agent, A. D. Peters, span 1943-1963, and include correspondence with T. S. Eliot at Faber and Faber.
Call Number: Manuscript Collection MS-3936
Extent: 8 boxes (3.36 linear feet), 1 galley folder (gf)
Language: English, French, German, Italian
Repository: The University of Texas at Austin, Harry Ransom Center



Open for research

Administrative Information

Processed by:

Joan Sibley and Daniela Lozano, 2012


This finding aid replicates and replaces information previously available only in a card catalog. Please see the explanatory note at the end of this finding aid for information regarding the arrangement of the manuscripts as well as the abbreviations commonly used in descriptions.

Container List


Untitled poems:
1.1 Abrupt and charming mover…, signed typescript with handwritten emendation, 1 page, July 1932. Written on verso: Not palaces, an era’s crown…, typescript, 1 page, undated. From Hanley II.
After they have tired…, typescript, 2 pages, undated. From Hanley II.
For on this stage there were heroes, maidens, fools, victims, the chorus…, handwritten manuscript / fragment with revisions, 1 page, undated.
From a tree choked by ivy…, signed typescript, 1 page, undated. From Hanley II.
Here man wakes…, signed typescript, 1 page, June 1932. Written with this: The eyes seen vividly…, typescript, 2 pages, June 1932. From Hanley II.
I hear the evening noises…, signed handwritten manuscript with revisions, 1 page, undated. Written with this: Awakening, handwritten manuscript, 2 pages, undated. From the Hanley Collection.
The light in the window seemed perpetual…, signed typescript, 1 page, undated.
These are the fray…, signed typescript with handwritten deletion, 1 page, June 1932. Written on verso: Those fireballs those ashes…, initialed typescript with handwritten emendation, 1 page, undated.
You must live through the time when everything hurts…, signed typescript, 1 page, undated. From Hanley II.
Churchill, handwritten manuscript with revisions, 2 pages, undated. From the Hanley Collection.
The conscript, typescript, 1 page, undated.
1.2 The dead island: sketches for parts I & II, signed handwritten manuscript with revisions, 112 pages bound, 1935. Written with this: The cousins, handwritten manuscript with emendations, 7 pages bound; The third and a half international, handwritten manuscript / incomplete with emendations, 2 pages bound; 1935. From Hanley II.
1.3 Diary, handwritten manuscript, 31 pages bound, 1925. From Hanley II.
1.4 Diary of a journey to Israel, handwritten manuscript with emendations, 76 pages bound, 1952. Includes handwritten notes on endpapers and two ink sketches at end of book. From Hanley II.
1.5 Essay on modern society and truth / titled Sketch for essay in The god that failed, handwritten manuscript with revisions, 49 pages bound, undated. Written with this: Our six weeks old daughter…, handwritten manuscript / draft of poem with revisions, 3 pages bound, undated. From Hanley II.
1.6 The future of Shelley, handwritten manuscript with emendations, 20 pages, undated. From Hanley II.
1.7 The good gray poet, signed handwritten manuscript with emendations, 4 pages, undated.
1.8 The holy devil (Rasputin’s end), mimeo / libretto for opera, 31 pages, undated. Co-author Nicolas Nabokov, the composer.
1.9 Instead of death: part one – the younger poets, typescript with handwritten emendations and ANS by John Lehmann, 201 pages, 1945. Unpublished. From Hanley II.
1.10 The landscape near an aerodrome, signed typescript, 1 page, undated. From Hanley II.
2.1 The left wing orthodoxy, signed typescript with handwritten corrections and emendations, 12 pages, undated.
2.2 Mary Stuart by Friedrich von Schiller, freely translated and adapted by Stephen Spender, typescript / duplicated with handwritten revisions and 2 pages carbon typescript inserts, 100 pages bound, undated. From the Hanley Collection.
2.3 My cousin Maccabeus, typescript with handwritten emendations, 1 page, undated. From Hanley II.
Perhaps, printed trial copy for edition of 22 copies, with title page and edition statement in hand of Frederic Prokosch, 8 pages, 1933.
Poem, signed typescript, 1 page, undated. First line: If it were not too late… . From the Hanley Collection.
2.5 Poetry notebook, handwritten manuscript / workings with ANS on first page, approximately 55 pages bound, circa 1948. Contains workings for translations from Goethe, Returning from Vienna, Soldier from the wars returning, a few untitled poems, and draft of letter to Pravda.
2.4 Poetry workbook, handwritten manuscript / untitled poem / drafts with revisions, approximately 170 pages bound, undated.
2.6 Prose notebook, handwritten manuscript with revisions, 26 pages bound, undated. Contains drafts of 2 prose essays, one on ex-Communists, the other on Shakespeare, together with pencil and pen sketches and 2 drafts of poems.
2.7 Autumn journal: a poem by Louis MacNeice, signed handwritten manuscript with revisions, 5 pages, undated. From the Hanley Collection.
Quaker ways by Anna Ruth Fry, signed typescript with handwritten corrections, 4 pages, undated.
The red front by Louis Aragon, handwritten manuscript, 3 pages, undated. From the Hanley Collection.
2.8 Ruins and visions: sketches for poems, handwritten manuscript / drafts with revisions, 78 pages bound, 1940. Contains drafts of The fates, To Natasha, Daybreak, The coast, Into life, and some poems not included in the published version. Written with this: untitled poetic dialogue, handwritten manuscript / incomplete with revisions, 17 pages bound, undated. From Hanley II.
2.9 Ruins and visions, signed page proofs with handwritten corrections and emendations, 77 pages, 1941.
gf 1 Selected poems, uncorrected galley proofs, 28 pages, 1964.
2.10 Spiritual exercises, proof copy of the printed poem with handwritten revisions, 8 pages, 1943. Christmas and New Year greeting printed by the Curwen Press.
2.11 The temple, handwritten manuscript with revisions, approximately 180 pages, undated. Included with this: handwritten manuscript / alternate version of latter pages, pages 155-203.
2.12 The temple, page proofs / incomplete / photocopy on which Spender has made extensive revisions, 110 leaves, circa 1987.
3.1 Torso, signed handwritten manuscript with revisions, 173 pages, 1927. Written on end papers: unidentified poems.
3.2 The trial of a judge: a tragic statement in five acts, handwritten manuscript with emendations, 82 pages, 1937. From Hanley II.
3.3 Trial of a judge; a tragedy in five acts, signed proof copy with few handwritten revisions, 115 pages bound, 1937.
3.4 Two kisses, signed carbon typescript, 1 page, undated.
The uncreating chaos, signed typescript, 2 pages, undated. From the Hanley Collection.

Works 1:

3.5 Collected poems, 1930-1950, signed handwritten manuscript with revisions for many poems, 172 pages bound, undated.

Works 2:

3.6 Notebook 1, handwritten manuscript / collection of poems, largely untitled with many revisions, approximately 105 pages bound, 1934, 1936? Includes Lines written for Edith Sitwell; Birth, life, and death are the common fate; Bridle of the sun; Prologue to a concert version of Faust; A man-made world; fragmentary drafts.

Works 3:

4.1 Notebook 2, handwritten manuscript / collection of poems, largely untitled with extensive revisions, approximately 115 pages bound, undated. Includes Covered, o covered; Buonaparte; Notes on two plays; Sweeney Agonistes; and The dance of death.

Works 4:

4.2 Notes for Gollancz book, handwritten manuscript with many revisions, approximately 117 pages bound, undated. Includes Notes from Butler; Coward’s song; The red-roofed barn; A morality play with no morals; A dialogue; Where does music and poetry come in?; Hans Realiel and Stephen Spender; Sketches for the idealists; Boy with an oval face; At the window (to James Cliff); Ich weiss ein wildes geschlecht; Human love; untitled works. Written with these? Signed handwritten manuscript of Love in a mist and Mystery man by Gavin Ewart. Kulkarni D110.

Works 5:

4.3 Notebook 4, signed handwritten manuscript / draft of poems, largely untitled, with revisions, 15 pages bound, 1948. Includes Judas Iscariot.

Works 6:

4.4 Notebook 5, handwritten manuscript with revisions, 94 pages bound, 1935. Contents: Henry James; Orpheus, Eurydyce, Hermes; The artistic future of poetry; D. H. Lawrence’s letters. From Hanley II.

Works 7:

4.5 The still centre, handwritten manuscript with revisions, 183 pages, 1937-1939. From Hanley II. Contents: Sketch for a book of poems; Port Bou; A footnote from Marx’s chapter on The working day; The marginal field / titled The margins of productivity; Revolves to the numb level of fixed grief…; Exiles from their land, history their domicile; The human situation; The separation; The uncreating chaos; An elementary school class room in a slum; Variations on my life: The first; The stop watch and the ordnance map; Variations on my life: The second; Houses at edge of railway lines; To a Spanish poet (for Manuel Altolaguirre); The room above the square; Hampstead autumn; Who, if I cry, will hear me… ; Sonnet; After the wrestling…; The indifferent one; O silent fare…; The mask; Darkness and light; Fall of a city; At Castelon. From Hanley II.

Works 8:

4.6 Scraps, handwritten manuscript with revisions, approximately 72 pages bound, undated. Includes Marx’s use value v. value; Poets and revolution; Review of The common reader, part two; Karl; The cactus field; Trials of a judge / draft fragment.


4.7 3 ALS to Ackerley, Joe Randolph, 16 August 1961, 10 June and 16 October no year.
TccLS to Campbell, Roy, 2 June 1946.
5 ALS, TLS to Connolly, Cyril, 2 March 1938, undated. Letterheads: Group Theatre; Encounter. From Hanley II.
10 ALS to Cranfill, Thomas M., 1960-1961.
ALS / photocopy to Cranfill, Tom, 30 July 1961.
TccL to Faber, Geoffrey, undated.
ALS to Grigson, Geoffrey, 13 May no year.
2 ALS to Hayward, John, 13 and 15 March 1949, 10 March 1951. Removed from AC-L Sp34G1 1951.
4.8 5 ALS, 4 TLS to Heppenstall, Rayner, 1935-1960, undated. Letterhead: Encounter. From Hanley II.
4.7 ALS to Huggett, Mr., 4 February, 1995; re translation of Duino Elegies in collaboration with J. B. Leishman. Not described in card catalog (R13494, 1995).
4.9 ALS, TLS to John Lane the Bodley Head, 28 December 1933, 17 June 1956.
ALS to Lehmann, John, 1 May no year. Letterhead: Horizon.
ALS to Macaulay, Rose, 24 December no year. Removed from PR 6037 P47 R4 1947 HRC copy 1.
2 ALS to Moult, Thomas, 2 September and 8 October no year.
ALS to Prokosch, Frederic, 20 December no year.
ALS to Roberts, Denys Kilham, 7 September no year.
2 ALS, TLS to Roberts, Francis Warren, 10 January and 18 August 1961, 10 May 1963. Letterhead: Encounter.
2 ALS to Watkins, Vernon Phillips, 3 March no year, 8 March 1958.
19 ALS, TLS, APCI to Wright, David, 1944-1961, undated.


5.1 Bradley, A. G. ALS to Spender, 10 October no year.
Broch, Herman, 1886-1951. 3 TLS, TLI, ANS, 2 APCI to Spender, 1929-1939. Two letters are written on drafts of a translation by Broch of Spender’s Ode XVIII.
Campbell, Roy, 1901-1957. TLS to Spender, 11 June 1946.
Day-Lewis, Cecil, 1904-1972. 2 TLS to Spender, 7 and 26 June no year.
De La Mare, Walter John, 1875-1956. 4 ALS, 11 TLS to Spender, 1929-1941.
Dreiser, Theodore, 1871-1945. ALS to Spender, 6 August 1938.
Epstein, Jacob, 1880-1959. 2 ALS to Spender, 26 October 1937, 6 June no year.
Faber, Geoffrey. TLS to Spender, 6 June 1946.
Gide, André Paul Guillaume, 1869-1951. 2 ALS, APCS to Spender, 4 June 1938, 18 December 1939, 29 January 1944.
Green, Julian, 1900-1998. 3 ALS to Spender, 1930.
Lewis, Wyndham, 1882-1957. 13 ALS, TLS, New Year’s greeting to Spender, 1929-1939, undated.
The Listener. TLS assistant editor Janet Adam Smith to Spender, 25 January 1932. Written on this: ALS to John Lehmann.
Masefield, John, 1878-1967. 3 ALS to Spender, undated.
Muir, Edwin, 1887-1959. 6 ALS, 2 AL / incomplete, 5 TLS to Spender, 1935-1940, undated. Included with TLS dated 2 August 1940: Muir, In time of mortal shocks, typescript with handwritten corrections, 1 page, undated.
Murry, John Middleton, 1889-1957. 3 ALS to Spender, 26 December 1933, 5 January and 5 November 1934.
Orwell, George. 3 ALS Eric Blair to Spender, 2 April 1938, undated.
Peters (A. D.) Literary Agent. TLS Margaret Stephens to Spender, 28 March 1952. From Hanley II.
Romilly, Esmond. ALS to Spender, undated.
Wells, Herbert George, 1866-1946. 2 ALS, ALI to Spender, 24 March 1938, 4 August 1940, undated.
5.2 Woolf, Virginia Stephen, 1883-1941. 4 ALS, 6 ALI, TLS, 2 TLI, APCS, 6 APCI, 1935-1941, undated.


5.3 Kreymborg, Alfred, 1883-1966. TLS to the editors of New Republic, 4 March 1934. Recommends Spender’s Poems to American publishers.
Peters (A. D.) Literary Agent. Correspondence files relating to Stephen Spender, 1943-1963. Includes 199 ALS, 1058 TLS, 1265 TccL, 17 PC, and 37 telegrams. Also includes letters from Spender to Peters (174 ALS, 28 TLS, TccL, APCS); 6 TLS from T. S. Eliot at Faber and Faber; and handwritten account statements. Organized chronologically:
5.4 1943-1945.
5.5 1946.
5.6 1947.
5.7 1948.
6.1 1949.
6.2 1950.
6.3 1951.
6.4 1952.
6.5 1953-1954.
7.1 1955-1956.
7.2 1957.
7.3 1958.
7.4 Goethe permissions, 1958.
7.5 1959-1960.
7.6 1961.
7.7 1962.
8.1 1963.
5.3 Pudney, John, 1909-1977. Questionnaire sent to Spender re a poet’s financial rewards, typescript with handwritten answers by Spender, 1 page, undated.
Spender, B_____. ALS to Moult, Thomas B., 28 February 1944.
Spender, Stephen. Business sheet /list of engagements, undated.

Addition to the Collection 2014- :

8.2 Spender self portrait photograph, circa 1931. With a photocopy letter from Humphrey Spender 5 September 2000.

Explanatory Note Concerning Manuscript Collections Cataloged in the Card Catalog

Prior to 1990 when archival cataloging procedures were adopted at the Ransom Center, all manuscript collections were described in a card catalog.

Organization of Collections:

Manuscripts for each author collection were organized into four categories:

  • Works: manuscripts by the author, arranged alphabetically by title;
  • Letters: the author’s outgoing correspondence, arranged alphabetically by recipient name;
  • Recipient: the author’s incoming correspondence, arranged alphabetically by the author of the letter; and
  • Miscellaneous: all other manuscripts and correspondence, arranged alphabetically by creator.

Materials that did not fit into these categories, such as art, photographs, books, and near-print materials such as newspaper clippings, were dispersed to other Ransom Center collections for cataloging and storage.

Abbreviations Used in Descriptions:

The symbols below were used in combinations. For example ALS means autograph letter signed; Tccms means typed carbon copy manuscript, etc.

  • A = autograph (i.e., handwritten)
  • T = typed
  • S = signed
  • I = initialed
  • Ms = manuscript
  • Mss = manuscripts
  • L = letter
  • FL = form letter
  • N = note
  • D = document
  • C = card
  • PC = post card
  • cc = carbon copy
  • p = page
  • pp = pages
  • l = leaf
  • ll = leaves
  • nd = no date
  • inc d = incomplete date