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English Literature, History, Children’s Books and Illustrations

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Johnson, B.S.
SERIES OF C.77 LETTERS TO HIS CLOSE FRIEND TONY TILLINGHAST, AND JUNE TILLINGHAST
a mixture of autograph and typed letters signed, with a few postcards, together with more than 100 letters by Tillinghast to Johnson, 7 letters by June Tillinghast (mostly after her husband's death) to Johnson, and 9 other letters by Virginia Johnson and others, the correspondence beginning when both men were undergraduates, discussing their work on publishing the anthology Universities' Poetry, with extensive discussion of Johnson's literary work including Tillinghast's careful critique of a draft of Travelling People, updates on his novels' progress from their germination - such as the trip that inspired Trawl (“...Went to the White Sea, just off the Russian coast: saw a Russian cruiser which fired off a few shots – hoped it was practice, but had crew mustered aft to sing God Save Mr Kruschev [sic] just in case. Went up through the western fjords of Norway ... Got what material I needed, I think, though I haven’t had time to absorb it yet...” 10 November 1963) - through agents, publishers and printers, also discussing Tillinghast's professional ambitions as an academic, and their personal lives (“...The wedding went off very smoothly – comes of having only seven there!...”), the later letters increasingly taken up with Tillinghast's diagnosis with cancer and declining health, with a few later letters to his widow, June, including the initial idea for The Unfortunates, altogether c.300 pages, various sizes and locations, 1958-67
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Catalogue Note

“...I had an idea recently, going to Nottingham. It would take the form of a visit to Nottingham (or another city) by a man who had not been there for some time. Various things he saw and did would remind him of his earlier visits, and these would appear as flashbacks, all within the framework of a visit to report a football match. This suggests itself as a film, first of all, or a television play: but the trouble is that so many other people would mess it about it either of these media unless I kept the very strictest control. So maybe a novel or short story would be better. I’ve made some notes along these lines, but how do you feel about all this? Naturally, I wouldn’t want to do anything which would hurt you in any way. Please let me know how you feel...” (June Tillinghast to Johnson, 31 January 1965)

JOHNSON'S CORRESPONDENCE WITH THE FRIEND WHOSE DEATH FROM CANCER AGED 29 INSPIRED THE UNFORTUNATES. Tony Tillinghast (1935-64) was an undergraduate at Nottingham University when Johnson was at King's College London and their friendship was of great significance to Johnson. Johnson acknowledged the debt he owed to Tillinghast for his help on Travelling People by dedicating the novel to him and his wife (see lots 188-189).

English Literature, History, Children’s Books and Illustrations

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London