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Cancelled/. Typescript draft for Imperial vistas family fictions., ca 1980s

 Item — Folder: 239, Box: 19
Identifier: MSS. Archives. 2009/3. Series 4

Scope and Contents

From the Collection:

At the time of acquisition, the papers of Kendrick Smithyman, which cover five decades, were already well arranged, with indexing, into three recognisable series by Smithyman and Margaret Edgcumbe. A fourth series was created to accommodate items that were drafts of two posthumous publications.

Correspondence, in alphabetical order, largely inwards, and pertaining to Smithyman’s literary world, comprises Series 1. The largest group of letters from an individual to Smithyman was that of poet and Capricorn Press publisher Louis Johnson. Johnson’s letters contain much comment on and criticism of his and Smithyman’s peers. Reference is made to the Wellington Group of poets, instigated by Johnson. In a similar vein, but fewer in quantity, are the letters from the multi-faceted academic, Bob Chapman. They are often long and lively, sometimes illustrated with small sketches, and rich in comments on contemporary literary figures. Other significant names among the many noteworthy letter writers are J.K. Baxter, Charles Brasch, Allen Curnow, Dan Davin, Maurice Duggan, Lauris Edmond, A.R.D. Fairburn, Denis Glover, Pat Lawlor, Frank Sargeson, Maurice Shadbolt, C.K. Stead, Keith Sinclair, and Ian Wedde. As might be expected, a number of poems, such as six from J.K. Baxter in Item 2, appear in the correspondence, and there is also a pencil sketch of Smithyman by C.K. Stead in Item 28.

Although literature is the common thread with most, if not, all of the correspondence, personal messages are also evident as Smithyman had known many of the correspondents for decades. Many expressed their sadness and concern at various times throughout Mary Stanley’s long illness and eventual death, and the death of their son, Christopher, in 1984. Even more poignant are letters from those to whom Smithyman had written in late 1995 informing them of his terminal cancer. Though wordsmiths themselves, many clearly struggled to find appropriate expressions in this situation.

The remainder of Kendrick Smithyman’s papers are manuscripts and typescripts of his poems, in three Series. Those in Series 2 were housed in ten hardcover bindings termed folios and arranged in sets A, B, and C. The outer and inner folio covers were discarded with the exception of the inner cover of folio A1, which was annotated by Mary Stanley during prior use. Sets A and B include alphabetical indexes and page numbering. Set B has no date indications at all but a note on the index sheets state that it is the second run, which suggests Set A may have been a first run. A broad date range has been ascribed to Set B. Set C has no indexes or page numbering but there are several annotations on the coversheet. X=copy taken off to go to Press was crossed out as was a label Collected Poems. However, it seems appropriate to retain this name for Series 2. Other notes on the sheet, not crossed out, were the alterations in this set need to be checked back to alphabetical file. These are later and for M. Aside from the date ranges, as given below, very few of the poems in Series 2 are ascribed specific dates.

In addition to the folios of collected poems, thirteen file boxes contained what Smithyman termed the alphabetical file, because it was ordered alphabetically by first lines. This group appears as Series 3 and 4 in this inventory. Series 3 comprises drafts and revisions, mostly typescript, of each poem, and are often arranged in reverse chronological order. Many are annotated with dates, titles of publications to which copies were sent for publication, and sometimes declined, and markings indicating additions, deletions and other changes to the texts over a period of time. As a result, this Series is valuable for demonstrating the process of writing and composition in this genre of literature.

Of note in Series 3 is the uncertain authorship of a poem that appears in Item 189 as The blackbird sings, the plane branch bends, dated 1946, and annotated in Smithyman’s hand. With minor differences, the same poem is also found in Item 197, undated and entitled The starling sings, the plane branch bends, in Mary Stanley’s handwriting. It is unclear which precedes the other.

Because of the nature of the draft and revision process in these poems, what constitutes a first-line, verse, or entire poem is sometimes unclear. As a result, some first-lines in this inventory may differ from those in the accompanying index. Dates ascribed to each poem in this inventory include those of apparent originals and later drafts. Poems obviously crossed out, or marked cancelled or delete remain included in this inventory as they are legible and a valid part of this collection

Over time, Kendrick Smithyman’s poetry developed to encompass wide ranging themes. Two of these, vastly different, and destined for publication as books, are exemplified in Series 4. Items 238-239 are drafts contains typescripts for Imperial vistas family fictions, which dealt with people, places and events from his own family history and Items 240-242 comprise typescripts for Campana to Montale : versions from Italian, both of which were published posthumously.

Kendrick Smithyman provided indexes for part of Series 2, which remain with the poems. Margaret Edgcumbe provided those for the correspondence in Series 1 and for the poems that have been arranged into Series 3 and 4. These indexes are held in the administration file. Where the papers did not follow the clearly intended order, this has been corrected.


  • ca 1980s


Conditions Governing Access

Not restricted.


From the Collection: 3 metres (19 boxes.)

Language of Materials

From the Collection: English

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections, University of Auckland Repository

5 Alfred Street
Private Bag 92019
Auckland 1142 New Zealand