An exceptional archive (1960 - 1975)

John Betjeman

Hechle Family collection of letters, greetings cards, postcards and other material from John Betjeman. Includes an early version of the poem 'Cornish Cliffs' and, remarkably, two signed watercolours by JB.

Date: 1960 - 1975

Ten autograph letters signed, 6 postcards signed, 11 greetings cards signed. Autograph manuscript signed of the poem 'Treligga Cliffs, Delabole'. Two signed watercolours.

The Hechle family

A charming and unusual archive. Most of the items are addressed to Rea and Joan Hechle or their son Philip ( Pip ) and his wife Ros. The watercolours were presented to Joan's mother, Nell Oakley. The Oakley family were central to the social life at Trebetherick during the summer holidays of Betjeman's youth. The friendships formed then continued throughout his life and his affection for the families involved and for Trebetherick and North Cornwall in general is well documented. Three items stand out amongst this collection. The first of which is the manuscript poem 'Treligga Cliffs, Delabole' dated May 1965. This poem eventually became 'Cornish Cliffs', a radically re-worked version, and was published in the collection 'High and Low' in 1966. The other two items are the two watercolours. These are rarities - I have found only one record of a genuine Betjeman watercolour appearing for sale ( view of a country house, painted 1948 ) and I haven't found any references to him painting in the various biographies of JB or in his published correspondence. It's well known that he was a prolific doodler and casual sketcher but his painting was obviously a pleasure that he rarely had time for. The two views appear to have been painted in a garden with an outlook over the dune-like hills that surround Trebetherick. They each have signed ( 'John B.' ) presentation inscriptions to Nell Oakley for her birthday in 1966.


Offered by Steve Liddle