Other formats

    Adobe Portable Document Format file (facsimile images)   TEI XML file   ePub eBook file  


    mail icontwitter iconBlogspot iconrss icon

Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Vol 35 no. 22. 14th September 1972

The Letters of D'Arcy Cresswell

The Letters of D'Arcy Cresswell

Selected by Helen Shaw

The poet D'Arcy Cresswell (Walter D'Arcy Cresswell 1896-1960) wrote two memorable autobiographical prose works, The Poet's Progress and Present Without Leave. He was born in Christchurch and made several voyages between New Zealand and England, the first as a youth of 17, the last in 1950.

Although Cresswell's letters reflect aspects of New Zealand literature in the making, much of his life was spent in London, where from 1939 he lived in a cottage at Abercorn Place in St John's Wood. As a young man, after being wounded in the First World War, D'Arcy Cresswell peddled his poems round the English countryside. Some were printed as leaflets which subsequently comprised his first published volume of poems. During the Second World War he lectured to troops, being considered an excellent lecturer. In later years he became a night-watchman at Somerset House.

The letters retrace friendships with Lady Ottoline Morrell and Edward Marsh, with Sir William Rothenstein and Ormond Wilson. Cresswell corresponds with the New Zealand writers Frank Sargeson and John A. Lee; with the poets Ursula Bethell, Basil Dowling and Michael Hamburger. There is a letter to T. E. Lawrence. A love-hate relationship with the historian C. E. Carrington, for many years a publisher with the Cambridge University Press, is portrayed not only in letters but in passages from a long, autobiographical poem now published for the first time.

Cresswell's life, touched by fame, was one of unswerving dedication to poetry. A poet's hopes, disappointments, determination to continue, often in the face of extreme loneliness, and over all a highly individual manner of thinking, may be found in this collection of D'Arcy Cresswell's letters.