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Angus Wilson letter to Sandra Kent


Held at: University of Delaware Library Special Collections [Contact Us]181 South College Avenue, Newark, DE 19717-5267

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the University of Delaware Library Special Collections. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.

Overview and metadata sections

Born August 11, 1913, in Bexhill-on-Sea, East Sussex, England, Angus Wilson was also a short story writer, editor, critic, biographer, and playwright. Wilson was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 1980 for his contributions to literature and the arts.

While working at the British Museum during the 1940s, Wilson began writing short stories and other short pieces, most of which were portraits of postwar Britain. He has been ranked among the best short story writers of the twentieth century.

By the 1950s, Wilson became impatient with the short story form and in 1952 his first novel,

Hemlock and After, was published. The characterizations in two of his novels, Late Call (1964) and No Laughing Matter (1967) are discussed in this letter.

In addition to being knighted, Angus Wilson received the James Tait Black Memorial Prize in 1959, for

The Middle Age of Mrs. Eliot; the Yorkshire Post Book of the Year Award in 1970, for The World of Charles Dickens; and honorary degrees from a number of universities including the University of Leicester, University of East Anglia, University of Liverpool, University of Sussex, and the Sorbonne. Angus Wilson died on May 31, 1991, in Bury St. Edmunds, Suffolk, England.

"Angus Wilson." Contemporary Authors Online (reproduced in Gale Biography In Context). (accessed July 2011).

Sandra Kent (Harris) was an undergraduate student at Leicester University from 1966-1969. In her final year at Leicester she wrote a dissertation related to Angus Wilson, exploring the "wild garden" theme in his work. She received this letter in response to a letter she had written to Wilson.

Derived from Sandra (Kent) Harris, e-mail message to Timothy Murray, November 12, 2010.

British author Angus Wilson wrote this eight-page letter to Sandra Kent in response to her letter regarding a dissertation she had written concerning his novels.

In his extensive letter Wilson agreed with some of Kent's ideas regarding his use of the "wild garden" theme in his novels. He elaborated on the characterizations in at least two of his novels,

Late Call and No Laughing Matter. He spoke of specific characters, as well as the broader meanings in his novels, particularly in terms of culture and society. In the final paragraphs of the letter Wilson offered some general thoughts on life, writing, "... but what matters, perhaps, most is not an end ... but the energy, curiosity, intelligence, compassion, and powers of shaping that we put into the process of living ... ."

Box 61, F0885: Shelved in SPEC MSS 0099 manuscript boxes.

Gift of Sandra Kent Harris, December 2010.

Processed and encoded by Anita Wellner, July 2011. Further encoded by George Apodaca, October 2015.

University of Delaware Library Special Collections
Finding Aid Author
University of Delaware Library, Special Collections
Finding Aid Date
2011 July 20
Access Restrictions

The collection is open for research.

Use Restrictions

Use of materials from this collection beyond the exceptions provided for in the Fair Use and Educational Use clauses of the U.S. Copyright Law may violate federal law. Permission to publish or reproduce is required from the copyright holder. Please contact Special Collections, University of Delaware Library,

Collection Inventory

Autograph signed letter with envelope, 1969 February 20.
Box 61 Folder F0885
Physical Description

1 item (8 p.)

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