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Walter de la Mare Correspondence

 Collection — Box: 1
Identifier: MSS 2007-005

Scope and Contents

Correspondence by Walter de la Mare with Lucy "Clare" Kipps and Dick Hughes, comprising 29 individual letters. 6 letters are handwritten, 23 typed with some handwritten notes and signatures. Subjects of the letters include King George V, William Blake, Geoffrey Bles, John Buchan, Gaius Valerius Catullus, Mr. and Mrs. Neville Chamberlain, Charles Darwin, Leonardo da Vinci, Erasmus, Adolph Hitler, Julian Huxley, Sir Stanley Marchant, Frederick Muller, Carter Paterson, Miss Natalie Saxton, King Solomon, Gladys Bronwyn Stern, the Beckenham Journal, health and aging, Labour Party, Kubla Khan, Mother Nature, pets (including de la Mare's parrot, Tony, and his ostrich), and science. Titles of Kipps's poetry mentioned are The Baker's Man, Bird-Song, The Bough, Ding Dong Bell, Fears, The Felon's Mother, The Garden, Late Harvest, The Linnet's Nest, Nurses Tale, Ode to the Medal, A Portrait, The Recompense, Returning Warrior, The Sky-lark, The Sun-dial, To Any Saint on Earth, To N.C., The Troubadour, Two Lands, Vanity of Vanities, The Warden's Watch, Written at the Age of 11. The pieces of Kipps's fiction discussed are Sold for a Farthing, Sold for a Song. Mentioned also are a few of Walter de la Mare's own stories, "The Creatures" and "The Vats".


  • Created: 1940-1956


Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open to all researchers.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright has not been transferred to the Florida State University Libraries. All requests for permission to quote, publish, broadcast or otherwise reproduce from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Associate Dean for Special Collections & Archives. Permission for publication is given on behalf of the Florida State University Libraries as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained by the researcher.

Biographical or Historical Information

Walter de la Mare was born on April 25, 1873, in the town of Charlton, in Kent, England. His parents were James Edward Delamare and Lucy Sophia Browning Delamare, of French and Scottish descent, respectively. He attended St. Paul's Cathedral Choir School in London. Upon graduation, he entered the workforce as an employee of Anglo-American (Standard) Oil. It was during his tenure there as a bookkeeper that he began to focus seriously on writing poetry and stories. He had, however, been writing since his high school days when he founded and edited the school magazine, "The Choristers' Journal". At the age of 22 he became a published author when the journal "Sketch" accepted his story "Kismet". His early poems and stories were seen also in "The Cornhill", "The Pall Magazine", "The Pall Mall Gazette", and "Black and White". He married Constance Elfrida Igpen at the age of 26. He enjoyed a long and happy life with her and their four children and eleven grandchildren. His first book of poetry, "Songs of Childhood" was published in 1902 under de la Mare's pseudonym, Walter Ramal. He soon began publishing under his given name with his next book and first novel, "Henry Brocken". By his mid 30's an annual pension awarded by the Asquith government allowed him to retire from his job at Standard Oil to devote himself entirely to writing. His life was fairly ordinary and to many, it would appear, lacking in adventure. However, so active was de la Mare's imagination that he undoubtedly had a great many adventures in that realm, which was to him just as real as anything else. He died at his home in Twickenham, Middlesex, England, on June 22, 1956. Reputedly a very kind and gentle man, de la Mare was especially fond of children and animals. His vivid and active imagination allowed him to identify with children, and they reciprocated de la Mare's affection in their love of his work. Many of his admirers wrote letters to him telling him how much they enjoyed his poetry. He rather enjoyed replying to letters he received, whether they came from a child who liked "Peacock Pie" or one who objected to the rhyming scheme of one of his poems. De la Mare wrote on the subject of a child's imagination in his introduction to Poems for Children, "whatever precisely a child may be, it is very unusual indeed for those who have become men to be able to remember precisely what it was to be one; to become, that is, in imagination, the children they actually once were." Although highly respected by fellow authors, Walter de la Mare's works have been generally misunderstood and underappreciated by both critics and the average reader. While his earlier children's poetry is fairly simple, it hints of more complex, highly imaginative offerings to come later in his career. De la Mare was praised by critics for his variety of meters and his youthful imagination. It was for this avid creativity that others labeled him an escapist and a dreamer. He was known for his tendency towards morbidity and his peculiar characters. This is reflected in his later works, which were dominated by fairly dark themes, including grief, aging, mortality, despair, and the transience of beauty. It has been noted that for de la Mare, the difference between reality and dreams is so nearly indiscernible that it might as well not exist. People who only know of his children's poetry have missed the real de la Mare, who was a highly intelligent man with a melancholy soul. Best known as a lyric poet and children's author, childhood remained one of his major themes throughout his life. However, de la Mare was highly prolific, and comfortable in many genres. An accomplished author, de la Mare wrote poetry, novels, short stories, critiques, essays, anthologies, and plays. He received many awards for his writing, including the Polignac prize, Royal Society of Literature, 1911; the James Tait Black Memorial Prize for fiction, 1922, for Memoirs of a Midget; the Carnegie Medal, American Library Association, 1947, for Collected Stories for Children; the Companion of Honour, 1948; the Order of Merit, 1953; the Foyle Poetry prize, 1954; and honorary degrees from several universities, including Oxford, Cambridge, St. Andrews, Bristol, and London.


29.00 items

Language of Materials



Correspondence by Walter de la Mare with Lucy "Clare" Kipps and Dick Hughes, comprising 29 individual letters. 6 letters are handwritten, 23 typed with some handwritten notes and signatures.

Arrangement Note

Letters arranged chronologically, along with some original envelopes. One newsclipping is filed afterward.

Custodial History

The letters in this collection were originally owned by the recipient, Lucy "Clare" Kipps.

Method of Acquisition

This collection was purchased from Diana J. Rendell, Inc. of Waban, Massachusetts, on March 13, 2007, with endowment funds from the John MacKay Shaw Childhood in Poetry Collection.

Existence and Location of Originals

Portions of collection available online?: No

Processing Information

This collection was processed in May of 2007 by Ginger H. Williams.

Walter de la Mare Correspondence
Ginger H. Williams
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Repository Details

Part of the FSU Special Collections & Archives Repository

116 Honors Way
PO Box 3062047
Tallahassee FL 32306-2047 US