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Douglas Cleverdon correspondence

Collection MS-2003-038: Douglas Cleverdon correspondence


  • Creation: 1925-1932, undated

Scope and Contents

The collection consists of letters received by Douglas Cleverdon from Stanley Morison and letters written by Cleverdon to William Prince Telfer. The letters written by Stanley Morison relate specifically to The Engravings of Eric Gill and The Ancient Mariner, both printing projects by Cleverdon that were to be sponsored by Morison. The letters to Telfer, a regular customer of Cleverdon's Bristol bookshop, express Cleverdon's thanks for Telfer's discovery of a cataloging error; the contents of Cleverdon's next catalog; Cleverdon's thoughts on quitting the book trade; and a list of books illustrated by Eric Gill.


Restrictions on access

Collection is open for research.

Restrictions on use

These materials are made available for use in research, teaching and private study, pursuant to U.S. Copyright Law. The user must assume full responsibility for any use of the materials, including but not limited to, infringement of copyright and publication rights of reproduced materials. Any materials used for academic research or otherwise should be fully credited with the source. The original authors may retain copyright to the materials.

Biographical note: Douglas Cleverdon

Thomas Douglas James Cleverdon, known as Douglas Cleverdon, was born on January 17, 1903 in Bristol, England. He was the eldest son of Thomas Silcox Cleverdon and Jane Louisa James. He attended Bristol grammar school and Jesus College at Oxford where he published his first catalog of illustrated books. The catalog soon established his reputation as a master craftsman and lover of fine printing. His printing career was made possible largely by the work of other artisans, including Stanley Morison and Eric Gill, both of whom would become very close friends.

In 1926 Cleverdon opened his own bookshop in Bristol. His first major book production was a limited edition of Samuel Taylor Coleridge's "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner" in 1929, for which he obtained ten copper-engravings from artist David Jones. Cleverdon continued to sell books until the end of the 1930s, when he was persuaded by friends to begin working for the BBC. His work with the BBC lasted thirty years, during which Cleverdon established himself as one of England's best known radio broadcasters.

Shortly after he began working for the BBC, Cleverdon met his future wife Elinor Nest Lewis. The couple married in 1944 and had two daughters and three sons. During World War II Cleverdon worked with Howard Thomas to develop the radio program The Brains Trust, which broadcast to an audience of over twelve million. In 1953, Cleverdon developed a radio program to broadcast the poems of Dylan Thomas, Sylvia Plath, Ted Hughes, Thom Gunn, Wole Soyinka, John Betjeman, Siegfried Sassoon, and Stevie Smith. After retiring from the BBC in 1969, Cleverdon organized poetry readings and festivals and returned to publishing. His most impressive commission was a book of wood blocks by William Morris.

Cleverdon died on October 1, 1987 at his home in London.


Wells, John. "Cleverdon, (Thomas) Douglas James (1903–1987)." Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Ed. H. C. G. Matthew and Brian Harrison. Oxford: OUP, 2004. 12 Jan. 2006 ""

Biographical note: Stanley Morison

Stanley Morison, a typographer, was born at Kent Villa in Essex, England on May 6, 1889. In 1908 Morison converted to Catholicism and shortly thereafter began to work for The Imprint, a periodical devoted to print design. Later Morison went on to work for Wilfrid and Alice Meynell as a typographer for the Cloister Press. During the 1920s Morison worked with artists Eric Gill and Berthold Wolpe in developing printing types that later became widely used in both England and abroad. Morison also worked as a typographical advisor to The Times and sat on the editorial board for Encyclopedia Britannica. Morison died on October 11, 1967 and was honored with a requiem Mass in Westminster Cathedral on October 18, 1967.


Carter, H. G. "Morison, Stanley Arthur (1889–1967)." Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Ed. H. C. G. Matthew and Brian Harrison. Oxford: OUP, 2004. 12 Jan. 2006 "".


0.25 Linear Feet (1 container)

Language of Materials



The correspondence of Douglas Cleverdon, a twentieth-century British bookseller and radio producer who was also a printing enthusiast and producer of fine books. Includes letters to Cleverdon from typographer Stanley Morison.




Because the current accessioning system was not used until January 1986, it is not possible to know exactly the dates of acquisition of materials received before that time.

Douglas Cleverdon Correspondence
1925-1932, undated
Dana Lawton, 2005; revised by Ray Hartley
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the John J. Burns Library Repository

John J. Burns Library
Boston College
140 Commonwealth Avenue
Chestnut Hill MA 02467 United States