MC:P329 Published work and Papers of Richard Selig (1929-57)
This collection comprises select publications, papers, and correspondence of Richard Jay Selig. Originally in the possession of Prof. J.A.W. Bennett, the collection was deposited in Magdalen College Archive by his son Edmund Bennett on 12 June 2009 and accessioned as 09/112.
Richard Jay Selig (1929–57) was an American poet. He was educated first at the University of Washington and then from 1953 to 1956 as a Rhodes Scholar at Magdalen College, Oxford. In July 1956 he married the Irish singer Mary O’Hara and later that year the couple returned to the U.S., where Selig took up a post in the public relations department of Western Electric. He died in New York of Hodgkin’s disease on 14 October 1957.
Professor Jack Arthur Walter Bennett (1911–1981) was a scholar of Middle English literature and Selig’s tutor at Magdalen. Much of the correspondence in this collection is from Selig to Bennett, however it also includes some letters to Bennett concerning Selig after his death.
Catalogued by Julie-Ann Vickers, June 2009.
MC:P329/N1 – PUBLISHED WORK OF RICHARD SELIG
Book titled Poems by Richard Selig. This collection of Selig’s work was published posthumously by Dolmen Press, Dublin in 1962. Peter Levi, who was Professor of Poetry at Oxford from 1984–9, was involved in editing the book. In his preface he explains that some of the poems only came to light after Selig’s death. See also MC:P329/N2/1-3 for a small number of newspaper cuttings and correspondence that were found interspersed in this book.
Pamphlet titled The Fantasy Poets | Richard Selig | Number Twenty Three.
The Fantasy Poets was a series issued by the Oxford University Poetry Society and published by the Fantasy Press at Swinford, Eynsham, Oxford. This issue contains the following poems by Selig: The Island: November 1953; The Way Up; Marriage Song; and Song for a Tempest. On the final page of this item, Selig has inscribed, ‘To Dr and Mrs J.A.W. Bennett | with best wishes and regards | Richard Selig’.
MC:P329/N2 – LOOSE PAPERS FOUND IN J.A.W. BENNETT’S COPY OF POEMS BY RICHARD SELIG
This is a small collection of loose papers and news cuttings inserted in Bennett’s copy of Selig’s poems (see MC:P329/N1/1). Following the initial description of each item, there is an indication of where it was found in the book.
Newspaper cutting of a short obituary for Richard Selig by J.A.W. Bennett. Title of newspaper unknown. [from MC:P329/N1/1, front of book]
Newspaper cutting in which Peter Levi’s publication of Selig’s poems is mentioned. Title of newspaper unknown. [from MC:P329/N1/1, front of book]
With compliments slip of The Dolman Press, Dublin, bearing the inscription ‘for Jack and Gwyneth…love from Mary’ (Selig’s wife). [from MC:P329/N1/1, front of book]
MC:P329/N2/4 14 May 1962
Typewritten letter addressed to Dr J.A.W. Bennett from Tom Boase (President, Magdalen College). Boase writes to tell Bennett that some poems have just been found in the back of a cupboard in Selig’s old room at Magdalen. [from MC:P329/N1/1, between pp. 26-7]
MC:P329/C1 – CORRESPONDENCE OF RICHARD SELIG TO J.A.W. BENNETT
A series of letters and postcards addressed to Bennett from Richard Selig.
MC:P329/C1/1 3 April 1954
Postcard to Dr J.A.W. Bennett (Magdalen College) from Richard Selig (Forio d’Ischia). Selig writes on how he is spending his time on Ischia, and briefly describes his experience of the island.
MC:P329/C1/2 23 July 1954
Postcard to Dr J.A.W. Bennett (Magdalen College) from Richard Selig (Torremolinos, Spain). Selig writes of his stay in Torremolinos, and tells Bennett he is reading Beowulf, Chaucer and Spencer. He also makes a brief mention of the poet Stephen Spender.
MC:P329/C1/3 9 July 1956
Letter to Doctor and Mrs Bennett from Richard Selig (Magdalen College). Selig writes to invite Bennett and his wife to his wedding that is to be held at St Aloyisius’ church in Oxford on 23 July 1956.
MC:P329/C1/4 18 Oct 1956
Letter to Dr J.A.W Bennett (Magdalen College) from R. Selig (33-37 71st Street, Jackson Heights, New York). Selig writes to Bennett telling him of his new apartment and job in New York. He also briefly discusses his old poems that are due to appear in Encounter.
MC:P329/C1/5 17 Dec 1956
Letter to Jack [Bennett] from Richard [Selig] (33-37 71st Street, Jackson Heights, New York) and a typewritten copy of Selig’s poem ‘Reflection’. Using Western Electric Company letterhead, Selig writes that he encloses an article from the New York Times [now lost] for Bennett’s interest. He also tells of the visit of the singer and novelist Anne Moray Lopez de Caballos, and of his father-in-law’s appreciation of poetry. This letter was folded within a typewritten copy of Selig’s poem ‘Reflection’, although it is not certain that this poem was sent at the same time as the letter (2 items).
MC:P329/C1/6 19 Aug 1957
Letter to Jack [Bennett] from Richard [Selig] (33-37 71st Street, Jackson Heights, New York). Selig writes to praise Bennett’s latest publication, and then goes to describe his job and his developments in his wife’s career, in relation to which he mentions Anne Moray Lopez de Caballos. (2 pages)
MC:P329/C2 CORRESPONDENCE TO J.A.W. BENNETT CONCERNING RICHARD SELIG
This comprises correspondence sent to Bennett after Selig’s death.
MC:P329/C2/1 28 Nov. 1957
Typewritten letter to J.A.W. Bennett (Magdalen College) from Anthony Thwaite (British Broadcasting Corporation, Broadcasting House, London, W.1.). Thwaite writes concerning a recording of Richard Selig’s poems to be made on 3 December 1957. He regretfully informs Bennett that it is impossible to make a formal recording of the programme, but advises that Mary Selig, or someone on her behalf, should make an illegal recording instead.
MC:P329/C2/2 4 Dec. 1957
Letter to Dr Bennett from Anthony Thwaite ((British Broadcasting Corporation, Broadcasting House, London, W.1.). Thwaite tells Bennett about the recording made of Selig’s poems, informing him of editorial decisions and providing a list of the poems that were read. He goes on to tell him that the show will probably air in January and that this will cause a delay of payment to Mary Selig.
Letter to Dr Bennett from Peter Levi (Stonyhurst College, Whalley via Blackburn). Levi writes on behalf of Mary Selig, who hopes that Bennett will look after Richard Selig’s prose. Levi goes on to discuss the publication of Selig’s work and whether the prose poems should go with his poetry. The prose poems did in fact make it into the book of Selig’s work (see MC:P329/N1/1)
MC:P329/MS1 – COPIES AND DRAFTS OF RICHARD SELIG’S WORK
These papers were amongst the correspondence and publications in the possession of J.A.W. Bennett. While it is not clear how these papers came into Bennett’s possession, it is possible they accompanied Selig’s letters to Bennett, or alternatively were sent to him after the poet’s death.
Typewritten copy of Selig’s poem ‘The Fountain: To T.S.E.’.
In typescript, at the end of the poem, is Selig’s name and address: ‘Richard Selig | 33-37 71st Street | Jackson Heights | New York 72, N.Y.’ There are also some minor corrections in pen and pencil. This poem made it into the book of Selig’s work (see MC:P329/N1/1).
MC:P329/MS1/2 15 Aug. 1957
Typewritten copy of Selig’s work titled ‘Geophysical poem’. Selig’s name and address appears in typescript at the end of the poem: ‘Richard Selig | 33-37, 71st Street | Jackson Heights | New York 72, N.Y.’ In this copy, the poem was originally titled ‘The Polestar’, but this was crossed out and replaced with the title ‘Geophysical poem’, written above. In the book of Selig’s work, this poem appears under the title ‘The Polestar’(see MC:P329/N1/1).
Two pages of hand-written prose, presumably by Richard Selig (the author writes of attending the Catholic University of America, where Selig studied Drama and Greek for a period). In this piece, he outlines his reasons for reading, what he is reading and his favourite authors. There is no addressee, title, or date. However, the pages appear to be a draft of a prose poem.
MC:P329/MS2 – MISCELLANEOUS PAPERS IN BENNETT’S POSSESSION
Published Errata from the opera The Rape of Lucretia. It is not clear how this item is connected to the work of Richard Selig or the other papers in this collection.