Archive of Katherine Watson

Bodleian Library, University of Oxford

Rachael Gardner
2016



Department of Special Collections
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Table of Contents

Introduction
A   Journals 1947-2007, n.d.
B   Correspondence 1932-2008, n.d.
    B.1   Letters from John Bayley and his first wife Iris Murdoch and second wife Audi Villers 1952-2004, n.d.
    B.2   Correspondence with Nancy Sandars 1944-2008. n.d.
    B.3   Correspondence with relatives 1932-2007, n.d.
C   Literary papers 1934-1999, n.d.
    C.1   Literary notebooks 1934-1999, n.d.
    C.2   Poetry drafts 1934-1956, n.d.
    C.3   Draft of Pedallers to Rome 1950
D   Papers and correspondence of family members 1924-2010, n.d.
E   Papers and correspondence of Carolyn King 1973-2011
F   Audio Material


Archive of Katherine Watson

1924-2011, n.d.

Abstract:
Archive of Katherine Watson, (1918-2008) poet and bookseller.

Extent: 3.2 Linear metres, 70 physical shelfmarks
Language(s) of Material: English

Biographical history

Katherine Agnes Watson (1918-2008) was a poet and bookseller, publishing The Source and Other Poems in 1956.

After serving in the Women's Royal Naval Service, 1941-1946, Watson joined the Roman Catholic Church and in April 1949 became a postulant at Holy Cross Abbey, Stapehill, Dorset. Later that year, she returned to secular life, and in 1950 undertook a pilgrimage to Rome from Austria by bicycle, which she describes in Pedallers to Rome. The theme that runs throughout her writing is her sense of conflict between her strong religious convictions and her poetry. An equally important influence was her companion Pamela Redmayne, with whom she lived from 1964 until Redmayne's death in 1991.

In 1952, Watson was in a relationship with the literary critic and scholar John Bayley (1925-2015) who during this time proposed marriage. This did not materialise and Bayley later married Iris Murdoch (1919-1999) in 1956. Their correspondence shows that by 1994 Watson, Bayley and Murdoch were in regular amicable contact.

From 1959-1969 Watson edited 'Nemo's Almanac', an annual literary competition. In 1966 she realised her ambition to own a bookshop, opening Watson's Bookshop in Burford, Oxfordshire, which she ran until it closed in 1980. She died in 2008.

Watson's account of her pilgrimage, Pedallers to Rome was published posthumously by her friend and literary executor Carolyn M. King in 2012, along with her Collected Poems (2012).

For further details of Katherine Watson's life, see King's biography, Katherine Watson: A life of poetry, faith and love (2011).

Scope and Content

The archive consists of correspondence, journals, literary notebooks and typescript drafts, photographs, and papers relating to Carolyn King's biography of Watson.

The largest concentration of correspondence consists of letters sent from Katherine Watson to her friend, the archaeologist and poet Nancy K. Sandars, 1944-2008. The majority of letters from Sandars to Watson were accidentally destroyed in 2007 during the clearance of Watson's house. The archive includes letters sent from Watson to her brother Martin Watson 1932-1992, to her cousin Ben Watson 1995-2007, and some to her niece Matilda Bell and other relations. The correspondence includes personal letters sent to Watson by the literary critic John Bayley in 1952 and 1991-2004, and include letters and postcards from his first wife, the novelist and philosopher Iris Murdoch, and his second wife Audi Villers.

The literary papers consist of draft notebooks and annotated typescript drafts of Watson's poetry. Some seem to have been prepared as collected editions for publishers. The archive also contains the typescript draft of Watson's pilgrimage via bicycle, Pedallers to Rome.

The archive also contains papers of Watson's relatives and friends which were accumulated by Carolyn King in the course of research for her biography Katherine Watson: A Life of poetry, faith and love, in addition to papers created whilst preparing the biography for publication.

Arrangement

Some of the correspondence had been grouped by correspondent and roughly sorted into chronological order by Carolyn King. This arrangement has been maintained for the correspondence. Where it was possible to date the literary material, it has been ordered chronologically. The archive is arranged into five series: journals, correspondence, literary papers, papers and correspondence of family members, and papers and correspondence of Carolyn King.

Acquisition

The archive was given by Carolyn King , 19-22 June 2015. MS. Katherine Watson 39 was donated separately by Ben Watson on 23 June 2015.

Bibliographical References

Watson, K. The Source and Other Poems (Oxford University Press, 1956)Bayley, J. Iris and the Friends: A Year of Memories (Gerald Duckworth & Co.,1999) pp.124-139.King, C. M. Katherine Watson: A life of poetry, faith and love (Walrus Books, 2011)

Preferred Form of Citation

Oxford, Bodleian Library [followed by shelfmark, e.g. MS. Katherine Watson 1.]

Personal name(s) (NCA Rules)

King | Carolyn | fl. 1968-2015 | biographer of Katherine Watson
Watson | Katherine | 1918-2008 | poet

Subject(s)

Catholic Church
Literature
Poetry

A   Journals 1947-2007, n.d.

Scope and Content

The journals contain Watson's thoughts and accounts of her activities. The entries are often religious and self-reflective, beginning with Watson's conversion to the Catholic faith. The earlier journals express the conflict Watson felt between religious life and poetry. Loose leaves of further notes and letters are occasionally inserted.

Journal
Date: Jan-Aug 1947
Shelfmark: MS. Katherine Watson 1
Language(s) of Material: English
Extent: 1 volume

Journal
Date: May-Aug 1947
Shelfmark: MS. Katherine Watson 2
Language(s) of Material: English
Extent: 1 volume

Journal
Date: Aug 1947-May 1948
Shelfmark: MS. Katherine Watson 3
Language(s) of Material: English
Extent: 1 volume

Journal
Date: May-Sep 1948
Shelfmark: MS. Katherine Watson 4
Language(s) of Material: English
Extent: 1 volume

Scope and Content

Includes:

Journal
Date: Aug 1948-Jan 1949
Shelfmark: MS. Katherine Watson 5
Language(s) of Material: English
Extent: 1 volume

Journal
Date: Jan 1949-Feb 1950
Shelfmark: MS. Katherine Watson 6
Language(s) of Material: English
Extent: 1 volume

Scope and Content

There are no entries between 15 Apr and 22 Aug, during the time that Watson was a postulant at Stapehill convent.

Journal
Date: Mar-Apr 1950
Shelfmark: MS. Katherine Watson 7
Language(s) of Material: English
Extent: 1 volume

Scope and Content

The journal is labelled 'Kitzbühl' and has a religious image pasted on the inside cover. It is an account of Watson's stay in Kitzbühl, Austria, with friends, and their journey to Rome by bicycle which is expanded on in the typescript draft of 'Pedallers to Rome', MS. Katherine Watson 68. This account is continued in MSS. Katherine Watson 8-9.

Journal
Date: Apr-May 1950
Shelfmark: MS. Katherine Watson 8
Language(s) of Material: English
Extent: 1 volume

Scope and Content

This journal directly follows on from MS. Katherine Watson 7. It was written in Italy during Watson's journey to Rome from Kitzbühl, Austria, by bicycle, which is recorded in the typescript draft 'Pedallers to Rome', MS. Katherine Watson 68. The entries for 3-10 May are missing and are found in MS. Katherine Watson 9.

Journal
Date: May 1950
Shelfmark: MS. Katherine Watson 9
Language(s) of Material: English
Extent: 1 volume

Scope and Content

Written in Italy during the same journey from Kitzbühl to Rome as recorded in MSS. Katherine Watson 7-8, and the typescript draft 'Pedallers to Rome', MS. Katherine Watson 68. The entries are chronologically inserted into MS. Katherine Watson 8 and contain entries for 3-18 May 1950.

Journal
Date: May-Aug 1950
Shelfmark: MS. Katherine Watson 10
Language(s) of Material: English
Extent: 1 volume

Journal
Date: Aug-Oct 1950
Shelfmark: MS. Katherine Watson 11
Language(s) of Material: English
Extent: 1 volume

Journal
Date: Oct 1950-Nov 1950
Shelfmark: MS. Katherine Watson 12
Language(s) of Material: English
Extent: 1 volume

Journal
Date: Nov 1950-Jan 1951
Shelfmark: MS. Katherine Watson 13
Language(s) of Material: English
Extent: 2 volumes

Journal
Date: Jan-Mar 1951
Shelfmark: MS. Katherine Watson 14
Language(s) of Material: English
Extent: 1 volume

Journal
Date: Mar-Jul 1951
Shelfmark: MS. Katherine Watson 15
Language(s) of Material: English
Extent: 1 volume

Journal
Date: Jun-Aug 1951
Shelfmark: MS. Katherine Watson 16
Language(s) of Material: English
Extent: 1 volume

Scope and Content

Contains entries for Watson's travels in France, with her itinerary written on the inside cover of the journal.

Journal
Date: Aug-Sep 1951
Shelfmark: MS. Katherine Watson 17
Language(s) of Material: English
Extent: 1 volume

Journal
Date: Sep-Oct 1951
Shelfmark: MS. Katherine Watson 18
Language(s) of Material: English
Extent: 1 volume

Journal
Date: Oct-Dec 1951
Shelfmark: MS. Katherine Watson 19
Language(s) of Material: English
Extent: 1 volume

Journal
Date: Dec 1951-Jan 1952
Shelfmark: MS. Katherine Watson 20
Language(s) of Material: English
Extent: 1 volume

Journal
Date: Jan-Feb 1952
Shelfmark: MS. Katherine Watson 21
Language(s) of Material: English
Extent: 1 volume

Journal
Date: Feb-May 1952
Shelfmark: MS. Katherine Watson 22
Language(s) of Material: English
Extent: 1 volume

Journal
Date: May-Jun 1952
Shelfmark: MS. Katherine Watson 23
Language(s) of Material: English
Extent: 1 volume

Journal
Date: Jun-Oct 1952
Shelfmark: MS. Katherine Watson 24
Language(s) of Material: English
Extent: 1 volume

Journal
Date: Oct 1952-Mar 1953
Shelfmark: MS. Katherine Watson 25
Language(s) of Material: English
Extent: 1 volume

Journal
Date: Mar 1953-Nov 1955
Shelfmark: MS. Katherine Watson 26
Language(s) of Material: English
Extent: 1 volume

Journal
Date: Nov 1955-Jun 1956
Shelfmark: MS. Katherine Watson 27
Language(s) of Material: English
Extent: 1 volume

Journal
Date: Jun 1956-Feb 1957
Shelfmark: MS. Katherine Watson 28
Language(s) of Material: English
Extent: 1 volume

Journal
Date: Jan-Oct 1964
Shelfmark: MS. Katherine Watson 29
Language(s) of Material: English
Extent: 1 volume

Scope and Content

Most of the pages have been left blank.

Journal
Date: Oct 1973-Mar 2007
Shelfmark: MS. Katherine Watson 30
Language(s) of Material: English
Extent: 1 volume

Scope and Content

Brief religious entries, with some in Latin. Includes:

Journal
Date: Jul, n.d.
Shelfmark: MS. Katherine Watson 31
Language(s) of Material: English
Extent: 1 volume

Scope and Content

Most of the pages have been left blank.

B   Correspondence 1932-2008, n.d.

B.1   Letters from John Bayley and his first wife Iris Murdoch and second wife Audi Villers 1952-2004, n.d.

Letters from John Bayley
Date: 1952, n.d.
Shelfmark: MS. Katherine Watson 32
Language(s) of Material: English
Extent: 1 box

Scope and Content

Letters to Katherine Watson from John Bayley during the period of their close relationship during which time Bayley proposed marriage. The letters discuss their relationship as well as their reading interests and other literary and philosophical topics. Includes:

Letters from John Bayley and Iris Murdoch
Date: 1991-1992, n.d.
Shelfmark: MS. Katherine Watson 33
Language(s) of Material: English
Extent: 1 box

Scope and Content

Letters and postcards primarily from John Bayley, with some postcards and a letter from Iris Murdoch. Includes:

Letters from John Bayley and Audi Villers
Date: 1994-2004
Shelfmark: MS. Katherine Watson 34
Language(s) of Material: English
Extent: 1 box

Scope and Content

Letters from John Bayley continue to discuss literature and occasionally contain poetry. Many letters refer to Iris Murdoch's final years after being diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease in 1997, drawing parallels with Watson's own loss of her companion Pamela Redmayne. Includes:

B.2   Correspondence with Nancy Sandars 1944-2008. n.d.

Scope and Content

The letters are mainly from Watson to Sandars. The letters from Sandars to Watson were accidentally destroyed during the clearance of Watson's house in 2007.

Correspondence with Nancy Sandars
Date: 1944-1964
Shelfmark: MS. Katherine Watson 35
Language(s) of Material: English
Extent: 1 box

Scope and Content

Handwritten and typescript letters mostly from Watson to her friend Nancy K. Sandars, with the occasional letter to Sandar's sister Betty Sandars. Sandars and Watson exchanged and critiqued each other's poetry, and discussed further literary and philosophical ideas in their correspondence. Includes post-it notes and annotations made by Carolyn King.

Correspondence with Nancy Sandars
Date: 1965-1989
Shelfmark: MS. Katherine Watson 36
Language(s) of Material: English
Extent: 1 box

Scope and Content

Handwritten and typescript letters mostly from Watson to her friend Nancy K. Sandars, with the occasional letter to Sandar's sister Betty Sandars. Sandars and Watson exchanged and critiqued each other's poetry, and discussed further literature and philosophical ideas in their correspondence. Includes:

Correspondence with Nancy Sandars
Date: 1990-2008, n.d.
Shelfmark: MS. Katherine Watson 37
Language(s) of Material: English
Extent: 1 box

Scope and Content

Handwritten and typescript letters mostly from Watson to her friend Nancy K. Sandars, with the occasional letter to Sandar's sister Betty Sandars. Sandars and Watson exchanged and critiqued each other's poetry, and discussed further literature and philosophical ideas in their correspondence. Includes:

B.3   Correspondence with relatives 1932-2007, n.d.

Letters to her brother Martin Watson
Date: 1932-1992
Shelfmark: MS. Katherine Watson 38
Language(s) of Material: English
Extent: 1 box

Scope and Content

Includes a letter from Matilda Bell, daughter of Martin Watson, to Carolyn King commenting on Katherine and Martin's relationship, n.d.

Correspondence with her cousin Ben Watson
Date: 1995-2007
Shelfmark: MS. Katherine Watson 39
Language(s) of Material: English
Extent: 1 box

Scope and Content

The correspondence mainly comprises letters from Katherine Watson to Ben Watson with some photocopies of Ben Watson's letters to Katherine Watson, 2003-2007. Includes an article concerning their relative, Piers Courage.

Letters between Katherine Watson and other relatives
Date: 1924-2003, n.d.
Shelfmark: MS. Katherine Watson 40
Language(s) of Material: English
Extent: 1 box

Scope and Content

Includes:

C   Literary papers 1934-1999, n.d.

C.1   Literary notebooks 1934-1999, n.d.

Arrangement

The literary notebooks are arranged chronologically. Some of the notebooks are labelled with letters or numbers. This has been indicated in the scope and contents note.


Literary notebook
Date: 1934-1939
Shelfmark: MS. Katherine Watson 41
Language(s) of Material: English
Extent: 1 volume

Scope and Content

Notebook containing poetry drafts and ideas, with drawings and loose fragments. Includes:

Literary notebook
Date: 1946
Shelfmark: MS. Katherine Watson 42
Language(s) of Material: English
Extent: 1 volume

Scope and Content

Notebook containing poetry drafts and ideas, with loose fragments. Includes:

Literary notebook
Date: Apr 1947
Shelfmark: MS. Katherine Watson 43
Language(s) of Material: English
Extent: 1 volume

Scope and Content

Notebook containing poetry drafts and ideas, with loose fragments. Includes:

Literary notebook
Date: 1948
Shelfmark: MS. Katherine Watson 44
Language(s) of Material: English
Extent: 1 volume

Scope and Content

Notebook containing poem drafts and ideas. Includes:

Literary notebook
Date: 1948
Shelfmark: MS. Katherine Watson 45
Language(s) of Material: English
Extent: 1 volume

Scope and Content

Notebook containing poetry drafts and ideas.

Literary notebook
Date: 1949-1950
Shelfmark: MS. Katherine Watson 46
Language(s) of Material: English
Extent: 1 volume

Scope and Content

Notebook containing poetry drafts and ideas. Includes:

Literary notebook
Date: 1950
Shelfmark: MS. Katherine Watson 47
Language(s) of Material: English
Extent: 1 volume

Scope and Content

Notebook containing poetry drafts and ideas, labelled 'A'. Includes:

Literary notebook
Date: Mar 1951
Shelfmark: MS. Katherine Watson 48
Language(s) of Material: English
Extent: 1 volume

Scope and Content

Notebook containing poetry drafts and ideas, labelled 'C'.

Literary notebook
Date: Sep 1951
Shelfmark: MS. Katherine Watson 49
Language(s) of Material: English
Extent: 1 volume

Scope and Content

Notebook containing poetry drafts and ideas, labelled 'D'. Includes:

Literary notebook
Date: Dec 1951
Shelfmark: MS. Katherine Watson 50
Language(s) of Material: English
Extent: 1 volume

Scope and Content

Notebook containing poetry drafts and ideas, labelled 'E'.

Literary notebook
Date: Mar 1952
Shelfmark: MS. Katherine Watson 51
Language(s) of Material: English
Extent: 1 volume

Scope and Content

Literary notebook of poem drafts and ideas, labelled '7' with a loose fragment.

Literary notebook
Date: Jun 1952
Shelfmark: MS. Katherine Watson 52
Language(s) of Material: English
Extent: 1 volume

Scope and Content

Notebook containing poetry drafts and ideas, labelled 'G'. Includes:

Literary notebook
Date: Sep 1952
Shelfmark: MS. Katherine Watson 53
Language(s) of Material: English
Extent: 1 volume

Scope and Content

Notebook containing poetry drafts and ideas, labelled 'H'.

Literary notebook
Date: Apr 1953
Shelfmark: MS. Katherine Watson 54
Language(s) of Material: English
Extent: 1 volume

Scope and Content

Notebook containing poetry drafts and ideas, labelled 'I'.

Literary notebook
Date: 1962
Shelfmark: MS. Katherine Watson 55
Language(s) of Material: English
Extent: 1 volume

Scope and Content

Notebook containing poetry drafts and ideas.

Literary notebook titled 'The Source and Other Poems'
Date: 1973
Shelfmark: MS. Katherine Watson 56
Language(s) of Material: English
Extent: 1 volume

Scope and Content

Notebook containing poems, titled 'The Source and Other Poems'. These poems were published among others in The Source and Other Poems (1956), with the exception of 'Coral-for A.E.B'. Comprises:

Literary notebook
Date: [1999?], n.d.
Shelfmark: MS. Katherine Watson 57
Language(s) of Material: English
Extent: 1 volume

Scope and Content

Notebook containing poetry drafts and ideas, with loose fragments. The notebook is undated but two loose fragments are dated 1999. Includes:

Literary notebook
Date: [c.1946-1999]
Shelfmark: MS. Katherine Watson 58
Language(s) of Material: English
Extent: 1 volume

Scope and Content

Notebook containing poetry drafts and ideas, with a loose leaf.

Literary notebook
Date: [c.1946-1999]
Shelfmark: MS. Katherine Watson 59
Language(s) of Material: English
Extent: 1 volume

Scope and Content

Notebook containing poetry and prose drafts and ideas. Includes:

Literary notebook titled 'Camillo'
Date: [c.1946-1999]
Shelfmark: MS. Katherine Watson 60
Language(s) of Material: English
Extent: 1 volume

Scope and Content

Notebook containing poetry drafts and ideas, with loose leaves .The notebook is labelled 'Camillo'. Includes:

Literary notebook
Date: [c.1946-1999]
Shelfmark: MS. Katherine Watson 61
Language(s) of Material: English
Extent: 1 volume

Scope and Content

Notebook of poetry drafts and ideas, with a loose leaf. Includes:

Literary notebook
Date: [c.1946-1999]
Shelfmark: MS. Katherine Watson 62
Language(s) of Material: English
Extent: 1 volume

Scope and Content

Notebook containing poetry drafts and ideas. Includes:

Literary notebook
Date: [c.1946-1999]
Shelfmark: MS. Katherine Watson 63
Language(s) of Material: English
Extent: 1 volume

Scope and Content

Notebook containing poetry drafts and ideas, with loose leaves. Includes:

Literary pocket notebook
Date: [c. 1934-1999]
Shelfmark: MS. Katherine Watson 64
Language(s) of Material: English
Extent: 1 volume

Scope and Content

Pocket notebook containing poetry drafts and ideas, with some notes and addresses. Contains draft of 'He is That Happy-ever-after Ending' which was published in The Source and Other Poems (1956).

C.2   Poetry drafts 1934-1956, n.d.

Drafts of collected editions of poetry
Date: 1935-1951, n.d.
Shelfmark: MS. Katherine Watson 65
Language(s) of Material: English
Extent: 1 box

Scope and Content

These collected editions were probably produced for potential publication. They contain loose leaves of notes regarding publishers and further poem drafts. Some poems are published in The Source and Other Poems (1956). Comprises:

Drafts of poetry
Date: 1934-1956, n.d.
Shelfmark: MS. Katherine Watson 66
Language(s) of Material: English
Extent: 1 box

Scope and Content

Drafts of poetry. Comprises:

Miscellaneous loose drafts of poetry
Date: 1946-1951, n.d.
Shelfmark: MS. Katherine Watson 67
Language(s) of Material: English
Extent: 1 box

Scope and Content

Loose poetry drafts, 1946-1951, mainly n.d. Includes:

C.3   Draft of Pedallers to Rome 1950

Pedallers to Rome
Date: 1950
Shelfmark: MS. Katherine Watson 68
Language(s) of Material: English
Extent: 1 volume

Scope and Content

Typescript copy of Watson's posthumously published work Pedallers to Rome which gives an account of her pilgrimage to Rome from Kitzbühl, Austria, by bicycle in 1950.

D   Papers and correspondence of family members 1924-2010, n.d.

Papers and correspondence of family members
Date: 1924-2010, n.d.
Shelfmark: MS. Katherine Watson 69
Language(s) of Material: English
Extent: 1 box

Scope and Content

Papers and correspondence primarily of Ben Watson and Martin Watson. Includes:

E   Papers and correspondence of Carolyn King 1973-2011

Papers and correspondence of Carolyn King
Date: 1973-2011
Shelfmark: MS. Katherine Watson 70
Language(s) of Material: English
Extent: 1 box

Scope and Content

Papers and correspondence of Carolyn King, also known as Kim and Kimbo, friend of Watson and her literary executor, who also collected her archive. Most of the papers relate to King's research for her biography, Katherine Watson: A life of poetry, faith, and love(2011). Comprises:

F   Audio Material

Micro cassette tape
Date: [6 May 2009?]
Shelfmark: MS. Katherine Watson 71
Language(s) of Material: English
Extent: 1 box

Scope and Content

Micro cassette tape labelled 'Nancy Tape 1 May 6/09'. The tape was found in MS. Katherine Watson 35, among the correspondence from Watson to Nancy Sandars 1944-1957. It was stored in an envelope labelled 'Experimental tape Katherine 1952'.

Restrictions on Access

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