Gawsworth, John, 1912-1970

Alternative names
Dates:
Birth 1912-06-29
Death 1970-09-23

Biographical notes:

English poet and journal editor.

From the description of Twilights (For W.W.G.) : autograph manuscript of the poem signed : Letchworth, undated. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 270132699

Terence Ian Fytton Armstrong was born on June 29, 1912 in Kensington, London, England; attended Manor House School, Sussex and Linton House School and Merchant Taylors' School, London; became Freeman of the City of London, and of Merchant Taylors' Company, London, 1935; coordinator of Neo-Georgian lyric poetry movement, 1937; became London archivist for Brandaris Insurance Co., 1960; founding editor (1939-41) and London editor (1957-8) of English digest; London editor of Literary digest (1946-9), and editor of Poetry review, 1948-52; published books of poetry under the pseudonym John Gawsworth: Confession (1931), Flesh of Cypris (1936), and The collected poems of John Gawsworth (1948); other books include Above the river (1931), Apes, japes and Hitlerism : a study and bibliography of P. Wyndham Lewis (1932), and The Dowson legend (1939); won Benson Medal of the Royal Society of Literature in 1939; He died on Sept. 23, 1970.

From the description of Papers, 1945-1954. (University of California, Los Angeles). WorldCat record id: 40300838

British poet, editor, and bibliographer who wrote under the pseudonym Terence Ian Fytton Armstrong.

From the description of Gawsworth (Armstrong)/Shiel/Redonda papers, 1928-1971. (University of Iowa Libraries). WorldCat record id: 148109767

John Gawsworth, pseudonym of Terence Ian Fytton Armstrong (1912-1970), the bohemian poet. For fuller details of his life and achievements see Who was who, Vol. 6.

From the guide to the Literary papers and correspondence of John Gawsworth, with related material, 1931-1970, (Leeds University Library)

John Gawsworth was the pseudonym of Terence Ian Fytton Armstrong. He was an English poet, critic, bibliographer and editor. As well as compiling numerous anthologies, he published "Collected Poems" (1948) and "Ten Contemporaries" (1932, 1933). He was the editor of the "English Digest" (1939-1941) and other periodicals including "The Literary Digest" (1946-1949) and "The Poetry Review" (1948-1952).

From the description of John Gawsworth collection. [1931-1970]. (University of Victoria Libraries). WorldCat record id: 646006333

English author; John Gawsworth is the pseudonym of Terence Ian Fytton Armstrong.

From the description of On Ernest Dowson : proofs with corrections : [n.p.], 1939 Jan. 17. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 270874856

Author.

From the description of Poetic works, 1932-1945. (Indiana University). WorldCat record id: 42828127

Biography

Terence Ian Fytton Armstrong was born on June 29, 1912 in Kensington, London, England; attended Manor House School, Sussex and Linton House School and Merchant Taylors' School, London; became Freeman of the City of London, and of Merchant Taylors' Company, London, 1935; coordinator of Neo-Georgian lyric poetry movement, 1937; became London archivist for Brandaris Insurance Company, 1960; founding editor (1939-41) and London editor (1957-8) of English Digest ; London editor of Literary Digest (1946-9), and editor of Poetry Review, 1948-52; published books of poetry under the pseudonym John Gawsworth: Confession (1931), Flesh of Cypris (1936), and The Collected Poems of John Gawsworth (1948); other books include Above the River (1931), Apes, Japes and Hitlerism: a Study and Bibliography of P. Wyndham Lewis (1932), and The Dowson Legend (1939); won Benson Medal of the Royal Society of Literature in 1939; He died on September 23, 1970.

From the guide to the John Gawsworth Papers, 1945-1954, (University of California, Los Angeles. Library. Department of Special Collections.)

John Gawsworth was born Terence Ian Fytton Armstrong in London in 1912, the younger of the two sons of Frederick Armstrong, a colonial broker, and his wife Ethel Jackson. Gawsworth was proud both of his father’s Scottish descent and of his mother’s ancestor Mary Fytton, supposedly Shakespeare’s Dark Lady, from whose home, Gawsworth in Cheshire, he derived his pen name.

While still at Linton House and Merchant Taylor’s schools in London Gawsworth earned the nickname of Book Boy for his obsessive collecting of books and literary memorabilia. Leaving school at 16 he found employment in a central London bookshop, his poetry gained early recognition and he became an established part of the capital’s literary scene. In 1933 he married Barbara Kentish (who divorced him in 1948) and in 1938 he became the youngest Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and a Benson medallist. In many ways this was the height of his career.

Throughout his life Gawsworth cultivated the friendship and championed the causes of many writers who he felt were unjustly neglected. Among these writers were the novelists George Egerton (Mary Chavelita Dunne), Arthur Machen, Edgar Jepson and M P Shiel and poets Betram Warr and JohnMetcalfe (both Canadian) and Anna Wickham. From Shiel Gawsworth inherited the throne of the kingdom of Redonda, an uninhabited island near Montserrat, styling himself King Juan I.

Gawsworth joined the RAF in 1941 and served on the Algerian, Tunisian, Sicilian and Italian campaigns. He also spent some time in Cairo where his eccentric literary persona fitted in with the atmosphere of that time and place. He ended the war in India and returned to England in 1946.

After the war Gawsworth found it hard to fit into the changed literary scene. He was married for a second time, to Estelle Hayward, in 1948 and his Collected Poems were published in 1949 but he could not fulfil his early promise and began a prolonged descent into alcoholism which tested his relationships to breaking point. He was an able editor of the Poetry Review from 1949-1952 but his erratic behaviour led to his dismissal and he never held another job. In his later years he lived off the sale of his enormous collection of literary manuscripts (which he routinely transcribed) and books, as well as grants of Redondan titles.

In 1955 Gawsworth was married for a third time to Anna Downie, but this relationshipfollowed the pattern of others, blighted by alcohol and Gawsworth’s unfaithfulness. By the late 1960s Gawsworth was destitute and homeless. A fund for his benefit was set up and his long-suffering though faithful friend Ian Fletcher agreed to administer it. Although his health was failing Gawsworth demanded money from the fund and flew to Italy to try and recapture remembered happiness but he collapsed, was flown home and died in Hospital in London in 1970 at the age of 58.

From the guide to the Papers of John Gawsworth, 1912-1970, (Reading University: Special Collections Services)

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Subjects:

  • Editing--20th century
  • English poetry--20th century
  • Criticism--History
  • Poets, English--20th century
  • Literature
  • Authors, English--20th century--Archival resources
  • Letters 20th century

Occupations:

  • Authors, English--20th century--Archival resources

Places:

  • Great Britain (as recorded)
  • Redonda (Antigua and Barbuda) (as recorded)
  • England (as recorded)