Simon Coleman: The Cultural Adventures of Edward James

The Old Library, West Dean College

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Arising from the current cataloguing project, this illustrated talk will focus on some of the outstanding material in the Edward James Archive, exploring some of James's extensive correspondence with various artists and literary and cultural figures.

Insights into the Archive

Many exchanges of letters illuminate James's creative and complex friendships, some of which involved highly original artistic collaborations. Salvador Dali, Leonora Carrington, Dorothy Brett and John Betjeman were just a few of the individuals within his vast web of cultural associations.

The talk will show how the archive can open up fresh approaches to examining the aesthetic vision and personality of Edward James and provide a more balanced picture of a life that contained ambition, opportunities, creativity and frustrations in unusually large proportions. In addition, some of the manuscript 'treasures' and unusual items in the collection will be highlighted.

You can find out more about the cataloguing of the cultural papers on our blog.

Banner image: Edward James to Leonora Carrington, September 1946. © West Dean College of Arts and Conservation.
Inset: Portrait of Edward James, (c.1957) © West Dean College of Arts and Conservation.

The Edward James Archive

The Edward James Archive is currently closed for external research requests. This is due to the cataloguing project outlined above.

If you have an urgent archive request please email the Archives team at with the subject header to include - for the attention of the Director of Education, Francine Norris.

The completion of the cataloguing project will improve the search ability of the Edward James Archive and, in due course, enable researchers to have greater access to it. This significant development will benefit both students at West Dean College and the wider national and international research community. We appreciate your patience for the duration of this cataloguing project and please keep updated on progress via our blog page.