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Ivor Gurney

The Ivor Gurney Collection deposited at Gloucestershire Archives (reference D10500)

Gloucester-born Ivor Gurney (1890-1937) is regarded as one of the greatest composers of English art song of the twentieth century and one of the most significant poets of the First World War. His poems are included in several anthologies, including the Oxford Book of English Verse. His songs and other compositions are frequently performed and recorded. The bulk of Gurney's musical manuscripts, letters and notebooks form the core of the collection which now comprises many hundreds of items.

A very detailed catalogue to the majority of the collection was completed by Philip Lancaster in 2011 as part of a 3 year research project. Funded by the Great Western Research initiative, the project partnership led by Professor Tim Kendall (Head of English at Exeter University) brought together the Universities of Exeter and Gloucestershire and Gloucestershire Archives. 

Some boxes remain uncatalogued and these cannot be accessed without written permission of the Trustees.

Philip is currently working with Tim Kendall on transcribing and editing Gurney's complete poetry for Oxford University Press. Philip has also worked extensively on Gurney's music, preparing scores for performance, recording and publication.

Thanks to a generous grant to Gloucestershire Archives from the National Manuscripts Conservation Trust, the collection is now appropriately packaged and boxed to help ensure its long term preservation.

The collection is owned by the Trustees of the Gurney Estate and so that its use can be monitored by the Trustees, researchers will need to complete an access form at Gloucestershire Archives.  

Please note that written permission from the Trustees is needed:

  • before accessing any uncatalogued material
  • before making any digital copies
  • before copying more than 75% of any unpublished manuscripts in any way
  • before publishing any material
  • before public performances, recordings or media broadcasts of any works

Researchers wishing to make copies from the collection should apply to Gloucestershire Archives initially, please note that photocopying of music scores is not permitted, copies can be supplied by Gloucestershire Archives reprographics service

The full list of contents appears in the catalogue D10500

In September 2018, Anne and Anthony Boden generously bequeathed their personal collection of Gurney material to Gloucestershire Archives. (D14814).

The Boden bequest contains items collected by several of Anne’s relatives who enjoyed a close friendship with Ivor Gurney during 1914-1920.  (Gurney actually made an unsuccessful proposal of marriage to Kitty Chapman, the daughter of Anne’s maternal grandparents).

Chief amongst the collection are letters written by Gurney to the Chapman family between 1915 and 1920, together with a few items of correspondence received by him.  They are supplemented by several other items, including musical scores; photographs of the Stonehouse Hospital, Dartford, where Gurney was a patient from 1922 until his death in 1937; anniversary programmes; and even a lock of Ivor’s hair.

Please note also that Oxford University's First World War Poetry Digital ArchiveOpens new window includes several hundred images of Gurney's poems and letters.

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