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Archive of Chatto & Windus Publisher and Historian

Archive of Chatto & Windus Publisher and Historian by WARNER, Oliver (1922)
Author: WARNER, Oliver
Title: Archive of Historian and Publisher's Reader
Year: 1922
Publisher: Unpublished/ Chatto and Windus
Place: London, Shropshire/ Salop, Hampshire
Dust Jacket: No
Signed: Yes
Price: £1250
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Added under Manuscripts  

Diaries, notebooks and letters of the novelist, publisher and Nelson historian Oliver Warner - 1903-1976 - including a manuscript draft of his history of Chatto & Windus where he worked during the 1930's. Educated at Denstone College in Staffordshire and Caius College, Cambridge, Warner published extensively on naval history; his best known book is A Portrait of Lord Nelson. An established writer by the 1950's, Warner was commissioned to research a history of Chatto and Windus which prompted him to write to former employees and Chatto-published writers: several of their responses are present here including letters from Pickering and Chatto and a long typed letter from Frank Swinnerton about his time at the publishing house where he progressed from proof-reader to director, ousting his predecessor Lee Warner: 'When we entered the firm it was moribund , doddering along with mediocre trivialities... When he [Warner] was outed, and Whitworth and I took over... and with a few successes made the firm altogether different from what it had been before - Wells, Benett, Galsworty, Milne etc. through me; Strachey, Clive Bell, and Holmes through Whitworth. THE YOUNG VIS. through me; ditto Aldous Huxley...' Other Chatto-related letters from George Frommholz and a folder of Chatto and Windus letters relating to Warner's first novel and subsequently offering him a job. The draft history of Chatto extends over about 30 leaves (rectos only) of a quarto manuscript notebook dated 1954 and is heavily revised throughout, dealing with the firm's history 1900-1910. Thus: 'Evidence of Lee Warner's hectic years (1906-'07) could be [discerned] perceived on the walls [of the cubicles] in the files and even [perhaps] it could be fancied in the baroque appearance of the house like phone [system]. By means of [which] this if he pressed a white button...' (Warner's erasures in square brackets).

This manuscript archive comprises about one large document box in quantity and includes three volumes of Warner's diaries-cum-commonplace books from 1922 and five notebooks from later in his career. The diaries begin just before Cambridge with three from his gap year(!) in 1922 and a single very detailed volume from April-July 1924 which was written while he was up at university. These are the intelligent, ironic notes of an aspiring literary man, heavy with notes on recent reading (Bacon's Essays) and interspersed with occasional photographs and sketches as Warner proceeded from school to Caius where he records pretentious student conversations in hall: 'Abercrombie spoke about the absorption of Child's Bank, the last of the small private concerns... It is a pity that these essentially 'personal banks' like Childs, Martins and Coutts are going, sentimentally' and a trip to see 'Our Betters by Somerset Maugham [which] was splendid, and grandly acted. (In particular Ida Statham and Lady George Grayston [though inclined to overact] Ruth Maitland as the Duchess of Sureness, and Cyril Cunningham as Lord Bleane.)' Warner's literary leanings are frequently to the fore: 'Scheme for novel: man could not find attraction in nice girl with property, but marries her without emotion. State of their life' but after much rowing, lunching and sociability 'Frankly I am rather disappointed that a 3rd is the best I can hope for.' (This diary ends just before the trip to Canada that inspired Warner's 1939 book Uncle Lawrence - collection of pasted-up reviews present in the collection.)

From 1923-1938 an album of Warner's journalism pasted in from publications such as The Granta, The Cambridge Review and including from 1932 'Where did that one go? By A Publisher's Reader'. Original photographs include portraits of Warner, a large format misty 'Fenners and Freshman' group portrait overlooking Mill Pond in Cambridge from the 1920s. Typescripts include a list of Warner's publication, letters from the Naval Secretariat, British Council, BBC etc.

Ther are five further notebooks of historical notes interspersed with reviews and other drafts and ephemera such as a letter from William Plomer thanking Warner for a generous review in The Bookman in 1932. From Warner's schooldays is a padded album of drawings, watercolours and correspondence which was begun a decade earlier by 'G.R Warner (R.I.P. 1906)'. Memorial correspondence includes the script of Professor Christopher Lloyds' tribute delivered in London on Trafalgar day 1976.
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