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Herbert F. West collection of A. Hugh Fisher

 Collection
Call Number: GEN MSS 795

Scope and Contents

The Herbert F. West Collection of A. Hugh Fisher consists of correspondence, writings, clippings, tearsheets, and fine art sent to Herbert West by the artist Alfred Hugh Fisher between 1938 and 1945. It includes over 300 letters from Fisher to West, 1938-1945; autobiographical memoirs by Fisher; volumes of travel journals (in the form of letters to his colleague Halford Mackinder) covering Fisher's work with the Visual Instruction Committee of the British Colonial Office and recording his visits to Australia, Borneo, Canada, China, Fiji, Gibraltar, Hong Kong, Japan, Malta, New Zealand, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Tasmania, and Tonga, 1907-1910; various articles, clippings, notes, manuscripts, and ephemera; and a selection of drawings, paintings, and prints by Fisher whose subjects include the home of writer Margaret Leigh, and portraits of his contemporaries Lascelles Abercrombie, Walter de la Mare, T. Sturge Moore, George W. Russell, and W. B. Yeats, among others. Also present is an etching by Hungarian printmaker Gyula (Julius) Komjati, whom Fisher visited in 1932.

Although West and Fisher never met in person, their long-distance friendship gave the artist someone to whom he could entrust his work and legacy, a particularly important concern when British citizens were anticipating Germany's impending attack. In addition to describing daily life in wartime Britain, Fisher's letters to West provide further personal history and context for the material West was receiving.

Dates

  • 1860 - 1945
  • Majority of material found within 1901 - 1945

Creator

Conditions Governing Access

The materials are open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

The Herbert F. West Collection of A. Hugh Fisher is the physical property of the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University. Literary rights, including copyright, belong to the authors or their legal heirs and assigns. For further information, consult the appropriate curator.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Herbert F. West, 1954-1957; letter to Miss Pye, gift of Bertram Rota, 1958; "Lycidas" woodcuts, gift of Robert Barry, 1953.

Arrangement

Organized into three series: I. Correspondence, 1913-1954. II. Writings, Ephemera, and Photographs, 1860-1945. III. Fine Art, 1881-1941.

Associated Materials

West's collection of books inscribed by Fisher were cataloged separately. Fisher's letters to William Rose Benet, also a gift to the library from Herbert West, are filed in the Benet Family Papers. Albums of photographs taken by Fisher during his time with the Colonial Office Visual Instruction Committee are in the Royal Commonwealth Society Collections at the University of Cambridge Library, Cambridge, England.

Extent

2.54 Linear Feet (9 boxes)

Language of Materials

English

Catalog Record

A record for this collection is available in Orbis, the Yale University Library catalog

Persistent URL

http://hdl.handle.net/10079/fa/beinecke.westhf

Overview

The Herbert F. West Collection of A. Hugh Fisher consists of correspondence, writings, clippings, tearsheets, and fine art sent to Herbert West by the artist Alfred Hugh Fisher between 1938 and 1945. It includes over 300 letters from Fisher to West, 1938-1945; autobiographical memoirs by Fisher; volumes of travel journals (in the form of letters to his colleague Halford Mackinder) covering Fisher's work with the Visual Instruction Committee of the British Colonial Office and recording his visits to Australia, Borneo, Canada, China, Fiji, Gibraltar, Hong Kong, Japan, Malta, New Zealand, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Tasmania, and Tonga, 1907-1910; various articles, clippings, notes, manuscripts, and ephemera; and a selection of drawings, paintings, and prints by Fisher whose subjects include the home of writer Margaret Leigh, and portraits of his contemporaries Lascelles Abercrombie, Walter de la Mare, T. Sturge Moore, George W. Russell, and W. B. Yeats, among others. Also present is an etching by Hungarian printmaker Gyula (Julius) Komjati, whom Fisher visited in 1932. Although West and Fisher never met in person, their long-distance friendship gave the artist someone to whom he could entrust his work and legacy, a particularly important concern when British citizens were anticipating Germany's impending attack. In addition to describing daily life in wartime Britain, Fisher's letters to West provide further personal history and context for the material West was receiving.

Alfred Hugh Fisher (1867-1945)

Alfred Hugh Fisher, a painter, printmaker, photographer, illustrator, poet, essayist, and critic known professionally as A. Hugh Fisher and to his friends as Hugh, was born in the Brixton district of London on February 8, 1867, the son of Alfred George Fisher and Isabella Read Smith Fisher. After some schooling he obtained a position as a junior clerk at George Street & Company, an advertising agency, in 1884. As a youth Fisher had declared his intent to become an artist; he exhibited his first watercolor at the Royal Academy in 1887, and in the 1880s began his career as an illustrator for a variety of popular periodicals. He received formal art education through a scholarship awarded him by the National Art Training School (now the Royal College of Art) from 1894 to 1897, after which he studied for six months with Benjamin Constant and Jean-Paul Laurens at the Académie Julian in Paris. Beginning in 1901, Fisher traveled and worked in Europe and England, painting and drawing as well as turning out illustrations for publishers, particularly the Illustrated London News. In 1907 he was appointed to the position of artist for the British Colonial Office's Visual Instruction Committee (COVIC) under the direction of Halford Mackinder. The agency's intention was to create a series of lectures that would acquaint British children with their empire's varied geography, and Fisher was assigned to visit as many colonial possessions as he could within three years, to paint and photograph scenes to be turned into lantern slides to illustrate Mackinder's talks. His travels took him through Ceylon, India, and Burma (1907), Aden, Somaliland, Cyprus, Canada, China, Hong Kong, and Singapore (1908), Borneo, Gibraltar, Malta, and Australia (1909), and Tasmania, New Zealand, Samoa, Tonga, and Fiji (1910). In addition, a steamship accident in 1909 allowed him to spend a few days in Japan. Aside from the thousands of images he made for the committee, Fisher's journey resulted in his own volumes Through India and Burmah with Pen and Brush (1911) and India (1913). Throughout the 1920s and 1930s he regularly spent time in France, Italy, Belgium, and Germany. His friendship with the Hungarian etcher Gyula (Julius) Komjati (1894-1958), who was working in England in 1927, led Fisher to spend three months in Hungary and Czechoslovakia in 1932.

Fisher began producing etchings in the 1890s, and was elected to membership in the Royal Society of Painters and Etchers in 1898. He was also the author of The Cathedral Church of Hereford (1898), a few volumes of poetry, a novel titled Quix (1931), and many essays, obituaries, and book reviews, the latter also published under his pseudonym Caleb Reade. In 1909 Fisher married his second wife, Lilias Cecile Wyman (1875-1930), whom he had met at the offices of the Illustrated London News. He died on July 2, 1945, after having suffered a stroke, and was buried in North Curry, Somerset, England.

Herbert Faulkner West (1989-1974)

Herbert F. West, teacher, author, publisher, and Anglophile, taught comparative literature at Dartmouth College from 1925 to 1964, and was professor emeritus until his death. He received degrees from Dartmouth College and Harvard University, and founded Westholm Publications, which issued several titles between 1955 and 1972.

Custodial History

West described his relationship with Fisher, and the circumstances surrounding the collection and its transfer to Yale, in an essay published in Yale University Library Gazette 29, no. 1 (July 1954): 2-8.

Processing Information

The collection was formerly filed under the call number MS Vault Fisher AH, and was housed in buckram-covered acidic containers created for Herbert West; they were discarded in 2011.
Title
Guide to the Herbert F. West Collection of A. Hugh Fisher
Author
by Sandra Markham
Date
2011
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Part of the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library Repository

Contact:
P. O. Box 208330
New Haven CT 06520-8330 US
(203) 432-2977

Location

121 Wall Street
New Haven, CT 06511

Opening Hours

Access Information

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