[W. H. Davies, Welsh poet, author of 'Autobiography of a Super-Tramp'.] Four Typed Letters Signed, encouraging the writing of 'Mr Harris', i.e. Christopher Fry. With Fry's copy of Davies's 'Ambition and Other Poems' and poem in Fry's autograph.

W. H. Davies [William Henry Davies] (1871-1940), Welsh poet and author of 'Autobiography of a Super-Tramp' [Christopher Fry (1907-2005), playwright]
Publication details: 
The first two letters on letterhead of Malpas House, Oxted; the last on letterhead of The Crofts, Nailsworth, the third from Shenstone, Nailsworth. Between 23 March 1928 and 16 May 1935. Book: London: Jonathan Cape, 1929.
SKU: 21460

The letters are in fair condition, lightly aged and worn, except for the third, which is damp-stained with closed tears at head and foot. The book is in fair condition, without dust wrapper. All four letters are signed 'W. H. Davies.' The first three are addressed to 'Mr Harris', and the last (an ANS rather than an ALS) to 'Mr Fry'. Each is 1p, 12mo. Letter One: 23 March 1928; Malpas House, Oxted. After reading his poem, Davies states, 'I begin to think you ought to take some step towards publishing, as soon as you have enough material. The interest in this poem is sustained to the end, and the end is good indeed.' He finds the poem 'much too long for a magazine', but thinks that if he can 'write any thing that is shorter and of equal merit, it would be worth trying the papers with it'. He advises him to 'cultivate the lyrical, instead of the reflective spirit', and by doing so he 'will stand a good chance of success'. Letter Two: 17 July 1928; Malpas House, Oxted. He and his wife accept Harris's invitation (to a book launch?). 'These new poems of yours come off very well, especially “The Rabbit” and “Song from a Play[”], the one with two verses'. He finds the poems 'so straightforward, simple, and genuine in sentiment that they stand above criticism.' Regarding Harris's plans for a novel, he believes that if he has 'a good and engrossing subject', he is 'certain to go on with it – but the first chapter is always the very devil, even to writers of much practise'. Letter Three: 28 September 1929; Shenstone, Nailsworth, Glos. He is pleased to hear from him, and to see that he is 'still doing literary work'. He has 'quite enjoyed' Harris's 'little play', and 'can only find the usual fault, which is a real virtue in all young poets – it is just a bit too poetical, and needs pruning. However, you are on the safe road, and restraint will come in due course.' The 'extracts' from Harris's 'Allegory' sound 'very promising', and he hopes he will 'find the subject interesting enough to continue to the end'. The letter ends: 'We both send our kindest regards to you and yours. You must give us a call – if you are ever down this way.' On the reverse, in black ink, is a six-line unpublished poem in Fry's autograph: 'This gentle duck, I heard it said, | Wishes to stand beside my bread: | Wishes, I heard a fairy state, | To stand and watch me clean my plate: | And one more thin he wishes yet, - | Wishes to hold your serviette.' Also on the reverse, in pencil in Fry's autograph, is the well-known mnemonic on English monarchs, beginning 'Willy Willy Harry Ste | Harry Dick John Harry III', and ending 'William & Mary Anna Gloria | Four Georges William & Victoria'. Letter Four: 16 May 1935; The Croft, Nailsworth, Glos. Not in fact an ALS but an ANS. Reads: 'Dear Mr Fry, | I am not writing any prose in these days, but here's a little poem, which I hope you will like.' The book 'Ambition and Other Poems' is 32pp, 8vo, in green cloth, with frayed printed label on spine. It carries on the front free endpaper the ownership inscription of 'Christopher Harris. | 1930.' Loosely inserted is a printed advertisement for Davies' 'The Song of Love', 4pp, 32mo bifolium.