Lilly Library Manuscript Collections


The Cleverdon mss. II, 1926-1988, consist of the papers of bookseller, publisher, and BBC producer and director, Douglas Cleverdon, 1903-1987. Cleverdon was educated at Bristol Grammar School and Jesus College, Oxford. He began his career as proprietor of a book selling and publishing firm in Bristol, England, in the 1920s. His first publication, Eric Gill's Art and Love in 1927, was printed at the Golden Cockerel Press. In 1929 he published Coleridge's Rime of the Ancient Mariner illustrated by David Jones, which in 1964 he re-issued with a new introduction by Jones as the first of his Clover Hill Editions under the imprint of Chilmark Press, New York. Other fine press books followed and he later published several books under his own name. His career for the British Broadcasting Corporation began with free-lance work as an actor and writer, but after his bookshop was bombed during World War II, he went to work for the BBC full-time as a producer with the Features Department. Following the war he worked mainly on productions for the Third Programme until his retirement in 1969. Many of his productions were submitted as Italia Prize entries, the most famous of which to win that honor was Dylan Thomas's Under Milk Wood, written specifically for the BBC and with Cleverdon often described as its midwife. Other particularly fine productions included In Parenthesis and The Anathemata, by David Jones, both of which used the full technical resources of radio acoustics and effects. Cleverdon also devised and produced poetry festivals and recitals, and directed several stage productions of "Under Milk Wood."

The collection is organized into the following series: I. Correspondence; II. Writings; III. The Bookshop of Douglas Cleverdon; IV. British Broadcasting Corporation; V. Publishing; VI. Festivals/Recitals; VII. Miscellaneous. An inventory is available.

Among the correspondents are Sir Harold Mario Mitchell Acton, Michael Ayrton, Sir Max Beerbohm, Enid Bagnold, Edmund Charles Blunden, Rutland Boughton, Barbara Bray, Jacob Bronowski, John Waynflete Carter, Frances Darwin Cornford, Eric Gill, Thomson William Gunn, René Hague, David Higham, Ted Hughes, Sir Geoffrey Langdon Keynes, Eileen Mayo, Edward Harry William Meyerstein, Stanley Morison, Richard Murphy, Philip O'Connor, Maurice Percival, Patrick Piggott, Kathleen Jessie Raine, Victoria Mary Sackville-West, R. Geoffrey Smith, Stevie Smith, James Stevens-Cox, and Vernon Phillips Watkins. Copies of Cleverdon's letters are interfiled with those of a particular correspondent. The writings present include articles, essays, and lectures by Cleverdon as well as writings by other individuals such as Jacob Bronowski, Ted Hughes, David Jones, Stevie Smith, and Dylan Thomas. The collection also contains materials related to the Bookshop of Douglas Cleverdon, including catalogs issued by him; scripts and production materials for his BBC work, including some audio tapes and sound recordings; book production materials and files relating to his publishing activities; and schedules, brochures, scripts, etc. concerning the various festivals, recitals, and programs that he organized or directed. There are two boxes of materials relating to the various productions and publications of Under Milk Wood, including scripts, photographs, etc.

Purchase. 1990

Collection size: 22,000 items

Related manuscripts: Cleverdon mss.

For more information about this collection and any related materials contact the Public Services Department, Lilly Library, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN 47405. Call (812) 855-2452 or send an email using our Ask a Question form.