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COLLECTION Identifier: MS Eng 1745

David Gascoyne papers

Personal and professional papers of Surrealist poet and translator David Gascoyne (1916-2001) and the papers of Gascoyne's bibliographer Colin Benford.


  • circa 1933-2005, undated

Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research.
This collection is not housed at the Houghton Library but is shelved offsite at the Harvard Depository. Retrieval requires advance notice. Readers should check with Houghton Public Services staff to determine what material is offsite and retrieval policies and times.


1.25 linear feet (3 boxes)

The Gascoyne papers consist of photographs, watercolors, compositions and notebooks, personal and professional correspondence, a family passport, readings and publications announcements, printed works, reviews of Gascoyne’s work, and ephemera. Personal correspondence includes letters from Gascoyne’s wife, Judy and mother, Winifred.

The collection also includes typescript and galley proofs of a bibliography by Colin Benford, and a file of Benford’s correspondence created while preparing the Gascoyne bibliography.

Biographical / Historical

David Gascoyne was an English poet associated with the Surrealist movement and a translator of French Surrealist poetry. A precocious teenager, Gascoyne published his first book of poetry, Roman Balcony, at sixteen. A year later he visited France and was introduced to Surrealism. Gascoyne became friends with Surrealist luminaries Salvador Dali, Max Ernst, and André Breton. However, his time in this circle was short lived. Gascoyne was summarily excluded upon the publication of his third volume of poetry, Poems 1937-42, which took on a more religious tone.

Gascoyne suffered multiple mental breakdowns in his lifetime, in part due to amphetamine abuse. While at a psychiatric hospital on the Isle of Wight Gascoyne met a lifelong friend and companion in Judy Lewis--a hospital volunteer. They were married in 1975.

Colin Benford was Gascoyne’s bibliographer, enthusiast, and friend.


Arranged into the following series: I. Gascoyne papers ; II. Benford bibliography ; III. Benford correspondence

Physical Location

Harvard Depository

Immediate Source of Acquisition

2015M-85. Deposited by Julio Mario Santo Domingo III; received: 2012 April. Forms part of the Julio Mario Santo Domingo Collection

Processing Information

Processing Information Processed by Rachel Parker, 2018
Link to catalog
Gascoyne, David, 1916-2001. David Gascoyne papers, 1941-2005, undated (MS Eng 1745): Guide.
Houghton Library, Harvard University
2018 July 25
Description rules
Language of description
Finding aid written in English

Repository Details

Part of the Houghton Library Repository

Houghton Library is Harvard College's principal repository for rare books and manuscripts, literary and performing arts archives, and more. The library's holdings of primary source material are managed by an expert staff and shared with scholars, students and the public in the reading room.

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