John Gawsworth

John Gawsworth (June 29 1912 - September 23 1970), a pseudonym of Terence Ian Fytton Armstrong (also referred to as T. I. F. Armstrong), was a British writer, poet and compiler of anthologies, both of poetry and of short stories. He also used the pseudonym Orpheus Scrannel (alludes to Milton's Lycidas). He was crowned the king of Redonda in 1947 and became known as King Juan I.

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.

He met and befriended the young Lawrence Durrell in 1932, when he was living in Denmark Street ; he made friends as well as enemies (Dylan Thomas, George Woodcock) throughout literary London.

He made a more serious name for himself in Cairo during World War II, returning to a picturesque eccentricity as a Fitzrovian. His Collected Poems appeared in 1949. A later volume is Toreros (1990).

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.

Poets in Known Signatures (1932)

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

Poets in Edwardian Poets (1936)

Roy Campbell - Frederick Carter - Wilfred Rowland Childe - Frank Eyre - John Gawsworth - Michael Juste - Hugh MacDiarmid - Hamish MacLaren - Mary Francis McHugh - R. L. Mégroz - E. H. W. Meyerstein - Herbert Palmer - Ruth Pitter - Tristram Rainey - A. S. J. Tessimond - E. H. Visiak - Anna Wickham


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