RepositorySpecial Collections Archives (GB 0029)
Ref NoEUL MS 123
Datec 1925-1981
Extent1 box
TitleLiterary papers and photographs of Denton Welch
DescriptionSeveral of the manuscripts and photographs listed here appear as items 1-8 of the 20 Denton Welch items which formed no 642 in G F Sims (rare books) Catalogue 56 in the late 1960s or pre-decimal 1970s. The published items were collected by Smoldon separately. The manuscript items are as follows:

1. School exercise book, dated 1936 and titled 'Latin', in manuscript, which begins with a translation of combat with a Gaul, but most of the book is taken up with a pencilled memoir.
2. Hardback notebook of (mainly untitled) manuscript poems, at one point dated 25 Dec 1938, with many drawings and doodles.
3. Similar school notebook, with a few history notes, but predominantly manuscript creative writing (poetry), drawings and prose, when Welch was aged 24.
4. Exercise book containing manuscript drafts of chapters 4-7 of Maiden Voyage.
5. 'Lambeth' exercise book containing manuscript drafts of chapters 26-28 of Maiden Voyage.
6. Photograph album, including six photographs of house in Shanghai, and eight further photographs, including the photograph of the family on the veranda of the house used in James Methuen-Campbell's biography (opposite p44).
7. Photograph album, with a few notes of places visited by D.W. as a child or youth, namely Stratford, Winchester, Oxford, Salisbury, Horsham, Chichester, Teignmouth and the Brooklands racing circuit.
8. Four further photographs of Denton Welch, plus two photographs of his paintings.
9. Bound manuscript of 'Narcissus Bay'.
10. Bound manuscript of 'Sickert at St Peter's'.
Admin HistoryMaurice Denton Welch (1915-1948), novelist and artist, was born in Shanghai, China, on 29 March 1915, the youngest of the three sons of Arthur Welch (d 1942), a partner in the trading firm of Wattie and Co., and his American wife, Rosalind Bassett (d 1926). The family was wealthy and travelled widely, and Welch had visited Korea, Canada, Switzerland and England by the age of ten. Welch was educated by a governess until the age of eight. From 1926 to 1929 he attended the preparatory school St. Michael's in Uckfield In 1927, his mother, with whom he was especially close, died in Shanghai. From 1929 he attended school at Repton in Derbyshire. Some of his school experiences are vividly documented in short stories and in 'Maiden Voyage', his first autobiographical novel. At the age of sixteen he ran away from school. When he was seventeen he returned to China for several months.

It was the ambition of Denton Welch to become an artist and he entered Goldsmiths School of Art in 1933. His time as an art student was cut short when, on 09 June 1935, he was hit by a car while cycling. He sustained several injuries, including a fractured spine. He was paralysed for several months and was able to learn how to walk again, though with difficulty. The accident also resulted in chronic pain and kidney and bladder infections, which would cause frequent severe headaches.

Towards the end of 1939, Welch sold his first painting to the oil company Shell. His paintings were also exhibited in several art galleries in London. Welch wrote an autobiographical novel, which was published in 1943 as 'Maiden Voyage'. That same year, Denton Welch was introduced to and fell in love with Eric Oliver (d 1995). The relationship endured for the rest of his life. Welch's second novel, 'Youth is Pleasure', was published two years later. A number of Welch's short stories, all in effect autobiographical, were published during his lifetime. Within the space of only eight years he completed some sixty short stories, all published posthumously, three novels, and a quarter of a million words of journals. He also continued to draw and paint, and nine of his late paintings were reproduced in 'A Last Sheaf' (1951). It took him four years to write his third, and posthumously published, novel, 'A Voice through a Cloud' (1950), an account of the accident itself and his struggle to convalesce. The manuscript was found beside his bed, complete except for about half a dozen pages, when he died, on 30 December 1948, at his home in Kent. During the last four years of his life he had lived with and been cared for by his partner, Eric Oliver.

Source: Michael De-la-Noy (2004), Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
Access StatusOpen
Related MaterialIn addition, Special Collections also holds a small collection of published items by Welch, including catalogues, first editions, copies of biographies and editions of the journals, poems and paperback editions. This is called the Welch Collection. Please refer to the main library catalogue which is available online at:

Other papers of Welch are held at the University of Texas at Austin (Harry Ransome Humanities Research Center Library); within the E.M. Forster Papers at King's College Cambridge (EMF 16/14) and within the Hamish Hamilton editorial files at the University of Bristol Special Collections (DM1352, file I.i).
Access ConditionsUsual EUL arrangements apply.
Finding_AidsListed on CALM
Creator_NameWelch; Denton (1915-1948); novelist and artist
Mgt_GroupLiterary papers
DS/UK/107Welch; Maurice Denton (1915-1948); novelist and artist1915-1948
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