[Cecil Harmsworth King, newspaper proprietor.] 103 Autograph Letters Signed and 22 Autograph Cards Signed to Philip Dossé, editor of 'Books and Bookmen', regarding his reviewing and other subjects. With a batch of letters from King's wife Ruth King.

Cecil King [Cecil Harmsworth King] (1901-1987), chairman of Daily Mirror Newspapers and International Publishing Corporation; Dame Ruth Railton (1915–2001) [Philip Dossé, editor of Books and Bookmen]
Publication details: 
All but one of the 115 letters either from The Pavilion, Hampton Court, East Molesey, Surrey, or The Pavilion, Greenfield Park, Dublin. A few of the letters dated from between 1971 and 1979; the others from the same period.
SKU: 18994

King's letters total 135pp., 12mo; 10pp., 4to. The earlier letters (mainly from East Molesey) all addressed to 'Mr Dossé'; 37 of the later letters (all from Dublin) addressed to 'Dear Philip'. The collection also contains the holograph of King's review of Graham Cleverley's 1976 book 'The Fleet Street Disaster' (6pp, foolscap 8vo), and 11 Autograph Letters Signed and three Autograph Cards Signed to Dossé from King's wife Ruth (neé Railton), dating from between 1971 and 1979. These are written in a chatty style, the letters totalling 25pp., 12mo; 2pp., 4to. The collection is in good overall condition, with a few items affected by damp. Although largely concerned with the business of reviewing, Cecil King's forceful personality and reactionary politics are apparent throughout the correspondence. On 5 August [1978] he writes 'I am afraid we live in troubled times with no effective government. It looks as if the Russians will take over Western Europe. No one seems to think the Americans will prove to be any obstacle. Carter is a huge disappointment. He is a good little man hopelessly out of his depth.' And on 25 July [1979], following the election of Margaret Thatcher: 'I am afraid the country is by no means out of the wood yet. The North Sea Oil is a great bonanza, but it will be frittered away in inflammatory wage settlements and social welfare. There is no reason to suppose that a Conservative Government will be any more able to cope with the Trade Unions than this one.' And on 31 December [1980?]: 'Of course I will review Diana Mosley's book. We both are much attached to her and I have a strong sense of her husband's ability.' A letter of 29 January [1977] deals with a personal tragedy in a curiously detached style: 'It was indeed kind of you to write a letter of sympathy to me in my bereavement. Colin was my youngest and most successful son & his death leaves a big gap in the huge concern of which he was a director. His little family is left quite desolate.' A letter of 29 May [year?] contains some an interesting assessment of his dismissal by the IPC directors in 1968: 'At the I.P.C. I had announced my intention of retiring in two years time and meanwhile was sitting back to see how the team that was to succeed me was getting on. The result was due to impotence - why wait for two years?: pressure from Harold Wilson: and a suspicion that the new team were not doing well & that I ought to be making changes. I thought they would be utterly foolish to vote me out of the chair at that juncture. They were indeed foolish, but they didn't realise that until later. | If you want peace of mind keep within your resources - human and financial. It is likely there will be an inflammatory book in the next few months, but there is very rough water ahead. The Labour situation is played down in the papers, but looks ugly.' On 11 January [1980] he writes of his former Daily Mirror editor: 'About Cudlipp's new book. I am certainly not prepared to review it by courtesy of Hugh Cudlipp. But I would be prepared to review it in the ordinary way - without reference to the author. I am not all that keen as it is likely to be a bad book and if I say so in a review, I shall be accused of personal animosity.' And on 7 April [1980], on the same topic: 'I don't want to review the Cudlipp book. [...] The book is likely to be short, self-centred and written in a style more suitable for the tabloid press than for a book.' On 11 September [1979]: 'I was amused to have explained to me what the trouble was over the Brendan Bracken book. Apparently Bracken met the Duchess of Buccleuch at a party with Beaverbrook and said she was "as randy as a school girl". At the last moment they discovered the old girl is not dead, so they cut out Buccleuch in the text - but left it in the index!' On 12 October [year?]: 'I am alarmed by your statement that you intend to use Robert Maxwell. I cannot say I relish the idea of appearing in the same issue as Maxwell and Boothby.' On 2 July [year?]: 'I am afraid I have to return the book you sent. Pearse is the Jesus Christ of the Nationalist religion and anything short of sustained and ecstatic praise would not be acceptable from a Dublin resident.' There are many covering letters enclosing copy, with King writing in businesslike manner, giving the name of the book whose review he is enclosing, and usually giving his opinion of it ('a shamelessly dishonest piece of Communist propaganda', 'quite the dullest work you ever sent me', 'It was difficult not to be libellous but I hope I have avoided that pitfall', 'an outstandingly bad book, but I hope the review is readable', 'a rather superficial work, but I have done my best with it'). Interesting passing comments are scattered throughout the correspondence: 'I am not a touchy person', 'I see Sampson now describes me as a man of "icy arrogance". This seems to me a bit exaggerated.', 'I knew Stanley Morrison quite well and liked him'. On 31 May [1980?] King apologises for having to miss a Foyle's lunch for Dossé: 'But my wife will be there on my (& her own) behalf. You deserve all the encouragement and congratulation that will come your way.' The correspondence contains a few allusions to the financial problems that would bring an end to Dossé's editorship, and result in his suicide in 1980. On 25 October [1979?] King writes a long letter regarding Dossé's 'difficulty retaining your ownership of B & B. It is a very personal enterprise and I doubt if it would prosper in other hands.' The letter contains suggestions regarding the magazine. And on 25 April [1980?]: 'This is a dreadful time for a small business like yours, but this storm will not blow itself out soon - so be very careful.' A letter of 30 August [1980] records the end of Dossé's ownership of the magazine: 'Dear Philip, | I am terribly sorry that your valiant efforts to keep Hanson Books going have been brought to nought by trade depression and Government policy. I do hope you find a buyer who will keep the group going - anyway B & B which is a unique kind of literary journal.'