Lilly Library Manuscript Collections


The Stanford mss., ca. 1945-1969, consist of the letters of Ian Hamilton Finlay, 1925- , poet, to Derek Stanford, 1918- , poet, including a number of undated incomplete letters covering the early years of their friendship, some writings by Finlay and Stanford, and a drawing by Finlay. Ian Hamilton Finlay and Derek Stanford met in 1945 while serving in a Non-Combatant Army Corps. Following Stanford's discharge in October, 1945, they wrote to each other frequently between 1945 and 1956. The correspondence was resumed in 1967.

The letters give an account of the poverty endured by Finlay, the stress which his hardship placed upon his marriage, and his deep concern for art which evolved into Concrete Poetry. Some of the letters are written on odd pieces of paper or upon the backs of letters addressed to him.

Included among the letters is a card from Finlay's wife Sue in December, 1967; a fragment of a letter from "Dad" on the verso of "am now in receipt of 2 missives...," n.d., incomplete; from Julian on the verso of the Officer-Finlay [dialogue], n.d., incomplete; and from an unidentified writer of an autobiographical novel "No Other Conflict" on the verso of Les Arches Hotel, Jersey, stationery, n.d., complete.

Writings by Finlay include: Autobahn Aesthetic, n.d., T.D., 3pp., 25cm.; Officer-Finlay [dialogue], n.d., A.D., 1p., 20cm., in pencil, accompanied by note in ink by Derek Stanford; Jimmy, n.d., T.D., 2pp., 25cm.

Writings by Stanford include: Poems in Stones: The Art of Ian Hamilton Finlay [broadcast], 1968, Aug. 21, T.D. (carbon), 3pp., 25cm.; Six Sere Tributes from my artificial garden for my friend Ian in fun, n.d., A.D., 4pp., 18cm., in pencil. With the writings is a contract signed by Derek Stanford with the British Broadcasting Corporation to read a talk on "Concrete Poetry," Aug. 29, 1968.

Included is a folder containing descriptive material about Finlay written by Stanford and a black and white drawing in ink by Finlay entitled A Northern Town, n.d., 14cm.

Printed materials include 1) clippings about Finlay's work: "The last word in poetry" by Elizabeth Glazebrook in The Daily Telegraph Magazine, Aug. 16, 1968; "Poems in Stone" by Derek Stanford in the Tribune, Aug. 30, 1968; "Ian Hamilton Finlay: Portrait of a poet" by Allen Wright in The Scotsman, Jan. 18, 1969, enclosed with Finlay to Stanford, Jan. 1969; 2) poem cards designed by Finlay and used as postal cards: Sea-poppy 1 (fishing boat letters and numbers) 1968, Oct. 22; Sea-poppy 2 (fishing boat names) 1968, Aug. 30; 'Heavy Fishing Loses Nets,' 1968, Dec. 19; Anchor of Hope, Daisy, Good Design and Be in Time, Fruitful Vine, 1968, July 16 (set of 2 cards).

Collection size: 96 items

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.