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Walter de la Mare Collection

An inventory of the collection at Syracuse University

Finding aid created by: --
Date: circa 1975

Biographical History

Walter John de la Mare (1873-1956) was an English poet and novelist. Born at Charlton, Kent in England on April 25, 1873, he was educated at St. Paul's Cathedral Choir School. In 1890, at the age of sixteen, de la Mare left school, where he first began writing, and went to London to work in the office of the Anglo-American Oil Company. He continued in that employment for nineteen years, while writing in his spare time.

De la Mare's poems and short stories were first published in various British periodicals under the pseudonym "Walter Ramal." His first book of verse, Songs of Childhood, was published in 1902 and was followed by the prose romance Henry Brocken in 1904. After 1908, de la Mare received an annual grant from the privy purse and was able to give up office work and devote himself entirely to his writings.

De la Mare was made a companion of honour in 1948, and received the Order of Merit on 1953. He died at Twickenham, Middlesex, on June 22, 1956. Much of de la Mare's best poetry is contained within The Listeners (1912) and Peacock Pie (1913), while the novels The Return (1910) and Memoirs of a Midget (1921) are among the best of his prose work. Collected Poems appeared in 1920, 1935 and 1944; Collected Rhymes and Verse in 1944.

De la Mare's later poetry include The Burning Glass (1945), The Traveller (1946), Inward Companion (1950) and O Lovely England (1953).

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The Walter de la Mare Collection consist of correspondence, writings and miscellaneous material.

Correspondence includes 156 letters, 152 of which were written by Walter de la Mare. An alphabetical index of correspondence is provided at the end of the shelf list. The remaining four letters were written by a secretary of the poet, by his biographer, Theresa Whistler, and by his daughter Florence Thompson. Correspondence begins in 1909 and continued through 1961; brackets have been used to indicate uncertain names and dates. De la Mare addressed his letters to minor poets, personal friends and admirers of his work. Many of the de la Mare letters in the collection are invitations to tea or polite refusals to lecture or introduce neophytes' verse. His letter of July 7, 1919 to an anonymous "Dear Madam" records his feelings about the interpretation of poetry, and more specifically, the interpretation of his poem, "The Ghost." Of special interest are the poet's comments on dreams, in a letter dated February 12, 1929, and a letter of May 11, 1932, concerned with the many lectures which de la Mare gave. Evidence of de la Mare's associations with literary figures of his time is scattered throughout the correspondence. In a letter written to "Dodd" on November 3, 1950, de la Mare reviews in detail his early years as a writer.

The Writings section includes four items of verse. One of these poems is a holograph, while the other three are typescripts with holograph revisions by de la Mare. Miscellaneous material is a sketch of Walter de la Mare.

Arrangement of the Collection

Correspondence is arranged chronologically. An alphabetical index of correspondence is provided at the end of the shelf list.


Access Restrictions:

The majority of our archival and manuscript collections are housed offsite and require advanced notice for retrieval. Researchers are encouraged to contact us in advance concerning the collection material they wish to access for their research.

Use Restrictions:

Written permission must be obtained from SCRC and all relevant rights holders before publishing quotations, excerpts or images from any materials in this collection.

Related Material

Approximately 120 additional letters written by Walter de la Mare to American poet A.E. Johnson, are located in the A.E. Johnson collection in the Syracuse University Archives. The letters cover 1931-1935 and provide observations on contemporary writers and the nature of poetry. De la Mare's detailed criticism of Johnson's verse offers insight as well into his poetical techniques.

See also the Gordon Kinzer Letters for one additional de la Mare letter.

Subject Headings


Asquith, Margot, 1864-1945.
Astor, Nancy Witcher Langhorne Astor, Viscountess, 1879-1964.
Blakelock, Denys.
Church, Richard, 1893-
De la Mare, Walter, 1873-1956 -- Correspondence.
Ellis, Havelock, 1859-1939.
Evans, Montgomery.
Farjeon, Eleanor, 1881-1965.
Head, Ruth Mayhew, 1866-
Jones, Henry Festing, 1851-1928.
Kernahan, Coulson, 1858-1943.
Lemperly, Paul, 1858-1939.
MacAlister, Ian, 1878-
Nevinson, Henry Woodd, 1856-1941.
O'Riordan, Conal, 1874-1948.
Prokosch, Frederic, 1908-1989.
Ridley, M. R. (Maurice Roy), 1890-
Shorter, Clement King, 1857-1926.
Spicer-Simson, Theodore.
Vijayatunga, J. (Jinadasa), 1902-
Were, Mary Winter.
Whistler, Theresa.


English literature -- 20th century.
English poetry -- 20th century.
Novelists, English.
Poets, English.



Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Preferred citation for this material is as follows:

Walter de la Mare Collection,
Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries

Acquisition Information

Purchase, 1958, 1966, 1967, 1969.

Table of Contents


Writings (verse)


Selected index to correspondence


Selected index to correspondence

All items are outgoing from de la Mare, unless marked with an asterisk.