John Gawsworth

Terence Ian Fytton Armstrong (29 June 1912 – 23 September 1970), better known as John Gawsworth (and also sometimes known as T. I. F. Armstrong), was a British writer, poet and compiler of anthologies, both of poetry and of short stories. He also used the pseudonym Orpheus Scrannel (alludes to Milton's Lycidas). He became the king of Redonda in 1947 and became known as King Juan I.

Early life

Armstrong grew up in Colville Gardens, Notting Hill, and at number 40 Royal Crescent, Holland Park, London.[1] He was educated at Merchant Taylors' School.[2]


As a very young man he moved in London literary circles championing more traditional verse and writing against modernism. He ran the Twyn Barlwm Press, a small press publishing some well-known poets, its title inspired by the mountain Twyn Barlwm in South Wales, beloved by one of his literary idols Arthur Machen. Machen was one of the remaining writers of the 1890s he admired and befriended. Gawsworth's longest piece of written work was a biography of Machen, but he could find no publisher for it in the thirties. It was finally published by Tartarus Press in 2005.[3]

Other writers Gawsworth admired were Edgar Jepson and M. P. Shiel, whose literary executor he would later become.

In 1931 he had the poem In Winter by W. H. Davies privately printed in a limited edition of 290 numbered copies, illustrated by Edward Carrick and all individually signed by Davies. A further special limited edition of 15 were printed on handmade paper and also hand-coloured by Carrick.[4] Three companion titles appeared in similar editions at the same time: In Spring by Edith Sitwell, In Summer by Edmund Blunden and In Autumn by Herbert Palmer.

He gave Hugh MacDiarmid a roof over his head in London in 1934 (MacDiarmid returned the compliment in When the Rat-Race Is Over; an essay in honour of the fiftieth birthday of John Gawsworth (1962)). At this time he was very much involved in compiling story collections, generally of the fiction of the supernatural. Poetry collections of this time were Lyrics to Kingcup (1932), Mishka and Madeleine. A Poem Sequence for Marcia (1932), Poems 1930–1932 (1936), New Poems 1939. Later he published through the Richards Press.

He met and befriended the young Lawrence Durrell in 1932, when Gawsworth was living in Denmark Street. He made friends as well as enemies (Dylan Thomas, George Woodcock) throughout literary London.


During World War II, he served in the Royal Air Force as an aircraftsman in North Africa. As one of the Cairo poets, he made a more serious name for himself, being part of the Salamander group. Later he returned to a picturesque eccentricity as a Fitzrovian. His Collected Poems appeared in 1949. A later volume is Toreros (1990).

The Known Signatures anthology (reactionary, quite literally) was prompted by the Michael Roberts New Country collection. The Edwardian Poetry Book One (1936) (edited anonymously) and Neo-Georgian Poetry 1936–1937 (edited anonymously by Gawsworth [5]) are extraordinary for their retrospective vision.

King of Redonda

As literary executor to M. P. Shiel, Armstrong also inherited the throne of the Kingdom of Redonda styling himself H.M. Juan I.[6] The independent publisher Jon Wynne-Tyson became Gawsworth's literary executor in 1970, also becoming H.M. Juan II. But Wynne-Tyson "abdicated" in favour of the Spanish novelist and translator Javier Marías— H.M. Xavier I – who became both Shiel's and Gawsworth's literary executor.

According to John Sutherland's Lives of the Novelists, "the excessively minor poet John Gawsworth" kept the ashes of M. P. Shiel "in a biscuit tin on his mantelpiece, dropping a pinch as condiment into the food of any particularly honoured guest".

Poets in Known Signatures (1932)

Edmund BlundenA. E. CoppardW. H. DaviesLord Alfred DouglasErnest DowsonJohn DrinkwaterJohn Freeman – John Gawsworth – Wilfrid GibsonJohn GrayLionel JohnsonHugh MacDiarmidRichard MiddletonHarold MonroHerbert PalmerEdith SitwellLeonard StrongEdward ThomasTheodore Wratislaw

Poets in Edwardian Poets (1936)

Roy CampbellFrederick CarterWilfred Rowland Childe – Frank Eyre – John Gawsworth – Michael Juste – Hugh MacDiarmid – Hamish MacLaren – Mary Francis McHugh – R. L. MégrozE. H. W. MeyersteinHerbert PalmerRuth Pitter – Tristram Rainey – A. S. J. TessimondE. H. VisiakAnna Wickham


  1. ^ Richard Tames, The Notting Hill & Holland Park Book Past and Present, Historical Publications, 2004.
  2. ^ Jon Wynne-Tyson, "Armstrong, Terence Ian Fitton (1912–1970)", Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, January 2006, accessed 7 February 2011.
  3. ^ John Gawsworth, THE LIFE OF ARTHUR MACHEN. Review reprinted from Times Literary Supplement.
  4. ^ Harlow, S. (1993), W. H. Davies – a Bibliography, Winchester: Oak Knoll Books, St. Paul's Bibliographies. ISBN 1-873040-00-8.
  5. ^ Rogers, Timothy, editor. Georgian Poetry 1911-1922: The Critical Heritage (London, Henley and Boston: Routlege & Kegan Paul, 1977), p.11
  6. ^ Wynne-Tyson, Jon, "Two Kings of Redonda: M. P. Shiel and John Gawsworth", Books at Iowa, no. 36 (April 1982): 15–22.

External links

1931 in poetry

Nationality words link to articles with information on the nation's poetry or literature (for instance, Irish or France).

1932 in poetry

Nationality words link to articles with information on the nation's poetry or literature (for instance, Irish or France).

1947 in literature

This article presents lists of the literary events and publications in 1947.

Benson Medal

The Benson Medal is a medal awarded by the Royal Society of Literature in the UK.It was founded in 1916 by A. C. Benson who was a Fellow of the Society, to honour those who produce "meritorious works in poetry, fiction, history and belles-lettres". The medal has been awarded several times to writers in other languages, and is occasionally awarded those who are not writers, but who have done conspicuous service to literature.

The medal is awarded at irregular intervals for lifelong achievement. Recipients include:

Edmund Blunden,

Anita Desai,

Maureen Duffy,E. M. Forster,Christopher Fry,John Gawsworth,Nadine Gordimer,

Philip Larkin,R. K. NarayanA. L. Rowse,George Santayana,Wole Soyinka,Lytton Strachey,

J. R. R. Tolkien, and

Helen Waddell.

Cairo poets

The British Army presence in Egypt in World War II had, as a side effect, the concentration of a group of Cairo poets. There had been a noticeable literary group in Cairo before the war in North Africa broke out, including university academics. Possibly as a reflection of that, there were two strands of literary activity and publication during the years 1942–1944. There was the Personal Landscape group centred on the publication of that name, founded by Lawrence Durrell, Robin Fedden and Bernard Spencer. There was also the Salamander group, which produced a magazine and the Oasis series of anthologies. To oversimplify, the first group produced poetic reputations, while the second, founded by servicemen, broadcast appeals and collected an archive of 17,000 poems written at the period.

Poets such as Terence Tiller and G. S. Fraser had a foot in both camps. Keith Douglas, the iconic war poet, was associated with the Personal Landscape group. Alan Rook, John Gawsworth and John Waller published in Salamander.

Several of the Cairo poets appeared in the 'Poets in Uniform' issue of Tambimuttu's Poetry London early in 1941.

An English literary presence persisted after the war, in the persons of P. H. Newby, Robert Liddell, Denys Johnson-Davies, Hilary Corke and D. J. Enright.

Colville Gardens

Colville Gardens is a Victorian cul-de-sac street in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, located north of Colville Terrace and east of the Portobello Market in Notting Hill, London, England. It is bordered on the north side by All Saints church.

Colville is also a ward of the Royal Borough. The population of the ward at the 2011 Census was 8,377.

Edgar Jepson

Edgar Alfred Jepson (1863–1938) was an English author. He largely wrote mainstream adventure and detective fiction, but also supernatural and fantasy stories. He sometimes used the pseudonym R. Edison Page.

George Egerton

Mary Chavelita Dunne Bright (14 December 1859 – 12 August 1945), better known by her pen name George Egerton (pronounced Edg'er-ton), was a writer better known for her short stories, noted for her psychological probing, innovative narrative techniques, and outspokenness about women's need for freedom, including sexual freedom. Egerton is widely considered to be one of the most important writers in the late nineteenth century New Woman movement, and a key exponent of early modernism in English-language literature. Born in Melbourne, she spent her childhood in Ireland, where she settled for a time, and considered herself to be "intensely Irish".

George Sutherland Fraser

George Sutherland Fraser (8 November 1915 – 3 January 1980) was a Scottish poet, literary critic and academic.

Herbert Edward Palmer

Herbert Edward Palmer (10 February 1880 – 17 May 1961) was an English poet and literary critic.He was born in Market Rasen, Lincolnshire, and educated at Woodhouse Grove School, Birmingham University and Bonn University. Before becoming a full-time writer and journalist in 1921, he led an itinerant life in teaching, tutoring and lecturing, working in particular for the W.E.A.; and spending many years in France and Germany.

He encouraged the young John Gawsworth. He introduced C. S. Lewis and Ruth Pitter in 1945/6.

Ian Fletcher (literary critic)

Ian Fletcher (1920-1988) was a British scholar who specialized in Victorian literature. He edited definitive editions of the works of John Gray and Lionel Johnson, as well as publishing studies on such seminal fin-de-siècle figures as Aubrey Beardsley and Walter Pater. He spent the last six years of his life teaching at Arizona State University. His collected poems were published in 1998, ten years after his death.

Fletcher was born in a Streatham nursing home in 1920, the only child of John Archibald Fletcher (1887?-1968), a farmer and retired army major, and Katherine Margaret Richardson (1888-1979). His parents separated before he was born. He grew up in Catford and Shepherd's Bush, and lived with his mother, a woman of forceful character. His family had strong Scottish antecedents and for a while as a young man he spelled his name Iain as a gesture to Scottish nationalism.

He was educated at Dulwich College. Money was short, and he left school at the age of 15 in order to earn a living. He worked as a librarian in Lewisham Public Library, and at the same time set out to write poetry and read widely. He haunted second-hand bookshops, and collected a library of works by lesser-known and neglected writers of the 1890s. In 1939 he met John Gawsworth, another bibliophile and enthusiast for neglected writers, and remained a loyal friend to him throughout his life.

Fletcher began to study for an external London University degree, but the war intervened and he joined the army. He served in the Middle East, and latterly in Cairo, from 1941 to 1946. Cairo was something of a literary centre at this time and Fletcher came into contact with numerous other poets who also became friends, including Bernard Spencer, G S Fraser and Ruth Speirs. Fletcher always retained an interest in making sure that the work of Second World War poets was not underestimated or forgotten, supporting the Salamander Oasis Trust in their production of anthologies and putting on an exhibition, based on his donated collection, in Reading University Library in 1981.

Back in London after the war, Fletcher returned to librarianship and also took an active part in the London literary scene, following up old friendships and making new ones. He helped to edit two short-lived literary magazines, Colonnade and Nine and published his first book of poetry in 1947. He continued to research the last part of the nineteenth century and in 1953 wrote a book on Lionel Johnson. This was brought to the attention of Professor D J Gordon of Reading University who offered Fletcher a lecturership on the strength of it in spite of his lack of a degree.

Fletcher had a distinguished career at Reading, gaining a PhD, his only degree, with a thesis on the history of the little magazine, in 1965 and progressing to a professorship in 1978. He was a generous benefactor of both the library and its fledgling archive, particularly in the areas of his research interests and of contemporary writing. Outside work he found personal happiness through his 1965 marriage and family life and in captaining an amateur cricket team.

Fletcher made frequent trips to America as a visiting lecturer and in 1982, after taking early retirement from Reading, he took up a post at Arizona State University. His last years were clouded by ill-health although he remained mentally alert to the end, dying in hospital in Birmingham in 1988.

He left a wife and two daughters.

Javier Marías

Javier Marías (born 20 September 1951) is a Spanish novelist, translator, and columnist. He is one of Spain's most celebrated novelists, and his work has been translated into 42 languages.

Kingdom of Redonda

The Kingdom of Redonda is the name for the micronation associated with the tiny uninhabited Caribbean island of Redonda.

The island lies between the islands of Nevis and Montserrat, within the inner arc of the Leeward Islands chain, in the West Indies. Redonda is legally a dependency of the country of Antigua and Barbuda. The island is just over one mile (1.6 km) long and one-third mile (0.54 km) wide, rising to a 971-foot (296 m) peak.

The island teems with bird life, but is more or less uninhabitable by humans because there is no source of freshwater other than rain, and most of the island is extremely steep and rocky, with only a relatively small, sloping plateau area of grassland at the summit. Landing on the island is a very challenging process, possible only via the leeward coast on days when the seas are calm. Climbing to the top of the island is also very arduous.

Despite these difficulties, from 1865 until 1912 Redonda was the centre of a lucrative trade in guano mining, and many thousands of tons of phosphates were shipped from Redonda to Britain. The ruins associated with the mineworkings can still be seen on the island.

Redonda also is a micronation which may, arguably and briefly, have existed as an independent kingdom during the 19th century, according to an account told by the fantasy writer M.P. Shiel. The title to the supposed kingdom is still contested to this day in a half-serious fashion. The "Kingdom" is also often associated with a number of supposedly aristocratic members, whose titles are awarded by whoever is currently the "King". Currently there are a number of individuals in different countries who claim to be the sole legitimate "King" of Redonda.

List of poetry anthologies

List of movie

M. P. Shiel

Matthew Phipps Shiell (21 July 1865 – 17 February 1947), known as M. P. Shiel, was a British writer. His legal surname remained "Shiell" though he adopted the shorter version as a de facto pen name.

He is remembered mostly for supernatural horror and scientific romances. His work was published as serials, novels, and as short stories. The Purple Cloud (1901, revised 1929) remains his most famous and often reprinted novel.

Poems of Today

Poems of Today was a series of anthologies of poetry, almost all Anglo-Irish, produced by the English Association.

Roger Dobson

Roger Alan Dobson (1954–2013) was a British author, journalist, editor and literary researcher.

Dobson wrote the Arthur Machen entry in the Dictionary of National Biography. He also edited John Gawsworth's biography of Machen and co-edited Machen's Selected Letters (with Godfrey Brangham and R. A. Gilbert, 1988). He was a regular contributor to Antiquarian Book Monthly Review, Faunus (the journal of the Friends of Arthur Machen), All Hallows (the journal of the Ghost Story Society), Wormwood and The Doppelganger Broadsheet.

William Reginald Hipwell

William Reginald Hipwell or Reg Hipwell (died 1966) was a populist forces journalist and parliamentary candidate.

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