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Robert Aickman Collection - MS 294

Introduction | Biographical Sketch | Scope and Content | Series Description | Inventory

The literary manuscripts, correspondence, and other non-book material in the Robert Aickman Collection reflect not only Aickman's diverse career as author, critic, patron of the arts and founder of Britain's Inland Waterways Association, but also shed much light on the literary, theatrical, social and political life of England from approximately 1880 to 1980. Letters, daybooks, journals and memorabilia reveal Aickman's acquaintance with such figures as Sir Peter Scott, Clifford Bax and Lord Alfred Douglas. Numerous news clippings and book catalog tearsheets also testify to his wide-ranging interests.

Aickman's private library of over 3,000 volumes reflects this same diversity and can be located in the Rare Books/Special Collections Division as well as various collections of the Jerome Library (the exact location of each title may be found in the library's main catalog).

Both the book and manuscript collection were obtained by Bowling Green State University as a result of lengthy written negotiations between Aickman and Dr. James Harner of the BGSU English Department and between Aickman and Dr. Dwight Burlingame, Dean of Libraries and Learning Resources at BGSU. Copies of this correspondence are included in the collection. Upon Aickman's death in February 1981, Philippa Bowley, London, England, carried out Aickman's wishes that his materials come to Bowling Green. The manuscript collection is housed in the Rare Books and Special Collections Division of the Center for Archival Collections.

This register was prepared by Nancy Steen, Rare Books Librarian, in November 1983. The collection is open for use by researchers. Restrictions do exist specifically on the duplication of the Lord Alfred Douglas photographs. Standard copyright restrictions exist on the unpublished manuscripts.

Biographical Sketch

Robert Fordyce Aickman (1913-1981) was a distinguished British author of stories of the supernatural. He published a number of books including The Late Breakfasters, Cold Hand in Mine, Intrusions, and an acclaimed autobiography entitled The Attempted Rescue. The grandson of the noted Victorian novelist Richard Marsh, Aickman won the World Fantasy Award in 1978.

He received some training in architecture (his father's profession), but he was more at home in the worlds of literature, theater, ballet and music. He had served as theater critic for The Nineteenth Century and After as well as Chairman of the London Opera Society. He was active in the London Opera Club, the Ballets Minerva and the Mikron Theater Company.

Aickman acted on a life-long interest when in 1946 he founded the Inland Waterways Association, dedicated to better maintenance and increased use of England's rivers and canals. He is widely credited with saving the British canal system for future generations.

Aickman's diverse interests led to personal friendships with talented and interesting people in all walks of life. In his youth, for example, he was befriended by playwright Clifford Bax and actress Meum Stewart. Many of the books from Miss Stewart's library bearing her distinctive bookplate went to Aickman upon her death and now, in turn, form part of Bowling Green's Rare Book Collection.

Scope and Content

The original manuscripts of many of Aickman's stories and plays form the basis of the Robert Aickman Collection. Also included are Aickman's appointment books and journals for the years 1943-1946 and 1949-1980 which give brief, tantalizing glimpses of his private life but, unfortunately, little in the way of concrete information.

The almost illegible nature of much of Aickman's handwriting makes the holographic portions of these materials difficult to use.

In addition, the collection includes correspondence, which provides some indication of Aickman's varied circle of acquaintances. Completing the collection are hundreds of news clippings, brochures, book catalogs, tearsheets, and other items collected by Aickman between 1930 and 1980. The quantity and character of these items testify to his careful attention to detail and to his diverse interests which encompassed nineteenth and twentieth century literature, drama, and art; the supernatural and religion; politics and world affairs; royalty; economics; education; population control; and travel and transportation.

The collection is most illuminating for the study of Aickman's works, in particular, and of fiction of the supernatural, in general. It is also strong in its reflection of British literary and artistic life during the years 1880 to 1980, with a special emphasis on Oscar Wilde, Lord Alfred Douglas and their contemporaries.

Series Description

CORRESPONDENCE

ROBERT AICKMAN CORRESPONDENCE
1927-1980, n.d.
Arranged chronologically
Includes personal and professional letters as well as written negotiations with Dr. James Harner which led to Bowling Green State University's acquisition of the Aickman Collection.

MISCELLANEOUS CORRESPONDENCE
1950-1966, n.d.
Arranged chronologically
Includes letters of Clifford Bax, Christopher Fry, John Mason Brown, and Meum Stewart.

LITERARY PRODUCTIONS

RESEARCH NOTES
1974-1979, n.d.
Arranged chronologically
Includes school notes as well as notes on Lord Alfred Douglas, Charles Ricketts and their contemporaries. Notebook listing of English cathedrals and churches by county and other churches by country.

MANUSCRIPTS (LITERARY)
1957, (1963?), 1978, most not dated.
Arranged alphabetically by title.
Typed and holograph manuscripts of four of Aickman's books, thirteen short stories, three plays, three essays, and three reviews (one by Aickman, one by Clifford Bax, and one by C. A. Reitzel).

REMINISCENCES
(1980?)
Description by Aickman of his abortive attempt to visit the United States.

SPEECHES
1963, 1975, n.d.
Arranged chronologically
Carbon typescripts of "The Place of the Railways in the Economy" by Roger Calvert (1963), "Why Conserve? - An Historian's View" by Lord Lindfield (1975), and "The Murder of Lord Kitchener and the Truth about the Battle of Jutland and the Jews" by Lord Alfred Douglas (n.d.)

ARCHITECTURAL NOTEBOOKS
(1885-1935?)
Arranged chronologically
The notebooks kept by Robert Aickman's father, W. A. Aickman.

SCHOOL ESSAYS
n.d.
Holograph essays by the young Aickman on Oliver Goldsmith, "Credulity, Superstition and Faith" and other topics.

TRANSCRIPTIONS
1944-1979, n.d.
Arranged chronologically
Reviews of Addlesson's The Epic of a People, "Introduction" to The Green Carnation by Robert Hitchens, quote by the Rev. Eric Tracey in The Yorkshire Architect, "Memory of the Spinning Wheel" (poem) by B. Hebblethwaite and "Squalor - in the Teachers' Minds" by Ronald Duncan.

DIARIES, APPOINTMENT BOOKS
1922-1980
Arranged chronologically
Unevenly-kept logs of Aickman's engagements, meetings, travels, etc.

JOURNALS OF QUOTATIONS
n.d.
Quotes from various sources noted by Aickman in the course of his reading and research.

FINANCIAL DOCUMENTS

LEDGERS
1899-1945
Arranged chronologically
Includes account books of Aickman's father, wife, and of Richard Marsh, Ltd., the firm named for his famous grandfather, the novelist.

MAPS, CHARTS, DIAGRAMS, GRAPHS, LISTS, ETC.

LISTS
1930, 1965
Arranged chronologically
List of members of the Tin Plate Workers' Company (1930). Acceptance list for W. H. Smith & Son Literary Award Ceremony (November 4, 1965).

PRINTED MATERIAL

CERTIFICATE 1905
Membership certificate in The Royal Institute of British Architects of W. A. Aickman.

AWARDS
1965, 1975, 1983
Arranged chronologically
News release concerning W. H. Smith Literary Award, engraved plaque for 1975 World Fantasy Award and invitation and program for the Opening of the Robert Aickman New Lock presided over by Lord Avon (1983).

PAMPHLETS
1890-1980, n.d.
Arranged chronologically within each subject area
Includes pamphlets collected by Aickman on such diverse subjects as music, economics, religion, cooking, and transportation.

FLYERS, ADVERTISEMENTS
1936-1981, n.d.
Arranged chronologically
Miscellaneous flyers collected by Aickman.

CLIPPINGS
1841-1980, n.d.
Arranged chronologically within each subject area, with the exception of those dealing with specific persons, which are arranged alphabetically.
Includes hundreds of clippings collected by Aickman on a wide variety of subjects from art and architecture to economics to important people to the theater to population control. A large number of book reviews is also included in this section.

BROADSIDES
n.d.
Includes "Desiderata" and poster for Russian Ballet costume sale.

PROGRAMS
1976-1979, n.d.
Arranged chronologically
Programs for Fantasy Con 2 at which Aickman was the guest of honor, for a music recital, for the inaugural conference of the British Defence Campaign, and for the Cambridge Theatre Company's presentation of Joe Orton's Entertaining Mr. Sloan.

BOOK CATALOGS/TEARSHEETS
1905-1980, n.d.
Complete catalogs arranged chronologically; tearsheets arranged alphabetically by the name of author checked.
Includes hundreds of tearsheets listing works by a broad spectrum of authors.

PERIODICALS
1899-1979, n.d.
Arranged alphabetically by title.
Scattered issues of approximately sixty titles, mostly British publications. Includes several issues containing works by Aickman (Fantasy and Science Fiction and The Nineteenth Century and After, for example).

PHOTOGRAPHIC MATERIALS

POSITIVE PRINTS
1908-1909, 1969-1972, n.d.
Arranged by subject.
Includes two large black and white prints of two portraits of Robert Aickman--one of him as a child and the other as an adult (the latter by Peter Scott).

A number of snapshots of Aickman and his friends, most taken during their travels are also included. Completing the collection of photographs is a portfolio of very rare portraits and informal poses of Lord Alfred Douglas taken during the poet's later years by photographer Howard Coster. These Douglas photos are not to be published or reproduced in any form.

AUDIO RECORDINGS

AUDIO RECORDING TAPE
n.d.
A BBC interview with Robert Aickman called "My Kind of Country."

MISCELLANEOUS

AUTOGRAPHS
1943
Various items containing autographs of Lord Alfred Douglas and playwright Ronald Jeans.

Manuscripts by Subject | Rare Books & Special Collections | MS 294 Robert Aickman Inventory