As a very young man he moved in London literary circles championing more traditional verse and writing against modernism. He ran the Twyn Barlwm Press, a small press publishing some well-known poets, its title inspired by the mountain Twyn Barlwm beloved by one of his literary idols Arthur Machen. Machen was one of the remaining writers of the 1890s he admired and befriended, others were Edgar Jepson and M. P. Shiel, whose literary executor he would later become. Gawsworth's longest piece of written work was a biography of Machen, but he could find no publisher for it in the thirties. It was finally published in 2005 to much critical acclaim.
He gave Hugh MacDiarmid a roof over his head in London in 1934 (MacDiarmid returned the compliment in When the Rat-Race Is Over; an essay in honour of the fiftieth birthday of John Gawsworth (1962)). At this time he was very much involved in compiling story collections, generally of the fiction of the supernatural. Poetry collections of this time were Lyrics to Kingcup (1932), Mishka and Madeleine. A Poem Sequence for Marcia (1932), Poems 1930-1932 (1936), New Poems 1939. Later he published through the Richards Press.
The Known Signatures anthology (reactionary, quite literally) was prompted by the Michael Roberts New Country collection. The Edwardian Poetry Book One (1936) (edited anonymously) and Neo-Georgian Poetry 1936-1937 are extraordinary for their retrospective vision.
As literary executor to Shiel, Gawsworth also inherited the throne of the Kingdom of Redonda styling himself H.M. Juan I. The independent publisher John Wynne-Tyson became Gawsworth's literary executor in 1970, also becoming H.M. Juan II. But Wynne-Tyson 'abdicated' in favour of the Spanish novelist and translator Javier Marías— H.M. Xavier I — who became both Shiel's and Gawsworth's literary executor.
Edmund Blunden - A. E. Coppard - W. H. Davies - Lord Alfred Douglas - Ernest Dowson - John Drinkwater - John Freeman - John Gawsworth - Wilfrid Gibson - John Gray - Lionel Johnson - Hugh MacDiarmid - Richard Middleton - Harold Monro - Herbert Palmer - Edith Sitwell - Leonard Strong - Edward Thomas - Theodore Wratislaw