Monday, 29 October 2012

Cecil-Day Lewis symposium at the Bodleian

The Poems of C. Day-LewisOn 30 October , the Bodleian Libraries are hosting a special one-day event to celebrate the gift of the Day-Lewis papers which belonged to the poet Cecil Day-Lewis (1904-1972) and his wife, actress Jill Balcon (1925-2009). The archive was donated to the Bodleian Libraries by their children, Tamasin and Daniel Day-Lewis and accompanies an initial literary bequest from Jill Balcon, following her death in 2009.

During the symposium, the poet's daughter, Tamasin Day-Lewis will discuss the life and work of C. Day-Lewis with known scholars of English literature. Participants will have the opportunity to listen to recorded readings of Day-Lewis's poetry by Jill Balcon and live reading by actor Gabriel Woolf. Photographs, manuscripts and correspondence from the archive, never seen in public before, will also be on display during the event.

An Oxford University alumnus Cecil Day-Lewis was one of the most notable Anglo-Irish poets of the 20th century. He also wrote mystery novels and short stories under the pseudonym of Nicholas Blake. Day-Lewis studied classics at Wadham College, Oxford from 1923 and became a prominent member of the Auden group of poets and intellectuals in the 1930s. He was later elected Professor of Poetry at Oxford University in 1951 and appointed Poet Laureate in 1968. In 1951 Day-Lewis married his second wife, Jill Balcon. Jill Balcon was an actress on film, radio, and the stage who had long used her voice ('a rich, expressive, finely modulated instrument' in the words of Peter Stanford) for verse-speaking. C. Day-Lewis and Jill Balcon shared a love of poetry and frequently gave readings together. After Day-Lewis's death Jill Balcon continued to read in public and promote her late husband's work.

David Whiting, Co-literary executor, Estate of C Day-Lewis and Jill Balcon: 'The family papers now given to the Bodleian encompass the wide ranging work of Day-Lewis not only as poet, but as novelist, critic, academic and public servant. They offer a kind of microcosm of his professional and private life, and a real insight into his world and that of his wife Jill Balcon is given by the range of letters from their correspondents, from EM Forster to Alec Guinness. There are, amongst much other material, manuscripts and typescripts of Day-Lewis poems, and the detective fiction written under his alias of Nicholas Blake, much of it now being republished'

The only CD of C. Day-Lewis poems is read by Jill Balcon and is published by Five Leaves. Copies are available from

No comments: