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Three printed volumes of poetry by May Wedderburn Cannan with associated autograph and manuscript poems

 Single Item
MS. 16085
Held in our offsite storage facility

  • Request

Three printed volumes of poetry by May Wedderburn Cannan, all owned by Georgiana Adelaide Henley (married name Macalpine-Leny), with enclosures of manuscript and typescript poems, and manuscript inscriptions:

  1. In War Time (1917). Inscribed 'g.a. Macalpine-Leny'. Enclosures of: typescript poem 'Into Battle' by Julian Grenfell; manuscript poems 'To John' translated from Latin by Billy Grenfell, and 'To Women' by Laurence Binyon; manuscript letter from Rose Aylmer; cutting of poem 'My Hymn of Hate'; manuscript poems by Cannan 'For Peter' and 'For -' [both for G.A. Henley?].
  2. The Splendid Days (1919). Inscribed 'g.a. Macalpine-Leny'. Enclosures of: manuscript poem 'There is a life that is uncreated...' and 'The Queen's advice to the Lord Lieutenant'; and typescript draft of 'Peace (In an Office in Paris)'.
  3. The House of Hope (1923). Inscribed 'G.A.H. with love and in memory from M.W.C Christmas 1923'. Enclosures of autograph manuscript draft poem 'As the steamy mists began to rise'; and printed author's compliment slip.


  • Creation: 1917-1923


1 box

Language of Materials

  • English

Preferred Citation

Oxford, Bodleian Libraries [followed by shelfmark and folio or page reference, e.g. MS. 16085].

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MS. 16085

Collection ID (for staff)

CMD ID 16085


Three printed volumes of poetry by May Wedderburn Cannan with associated autograph and manuscript poems, 1917-1923.

Biographical / Historical

May Wedderburn Cannan (1893-1973) was born and educated in Oxford, where she also trained in first aid at the outbreak of the First World War. She had a diverse experience of the conflict, working with the Oxford Voluntary Aid Detachment, the Clarendon Press, in a railway canteen in France, and at the bureau of central intelligence in Paris, all of which gave rise to her first volume of poetry, In War Time (1917). After surviving the war itself, Cannan's fiance Bevil Quiller-Couch succumbed to the Spanish Influenza in February 1919, and her grief was channelled into the second volume of poetry, dedicated to him, The Splendid Days (1919).

Cannan married Percival James Slater in July 1924 after recieving his letter of praise for her third volume of poetry, The House of Hope (1923). They had one son, James Cannan Slater in 1926. It seems Cannan's second husband discouraged her writing, and subsequently she focussed on their Staffordshire farm until writing her autobiography, Grey Ghosts and Voices, which was published posthumously in 1976.


Three volumes arranged chronologically by publication date. Enclosures loose between the pages of the volumes.

Custodial History

Originally owned by Georgiana Adelaide Macalpine-Leny (née Henley). Inscribed as given to her god-daughter Damaris Houssemayne Stewart (née du Boulay) 'with letters from my grandfather's house, Karenza' [Cheltenham] from Georgiana's friend Rose Caroline Georgiana Lascelles (née Aylmer).

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Purchased by the Bodleian Library, from James Fergusson Books & Manuscripts, with the support of the Roy Davids bequest, May 2019.

Related Materials

Canterbury, The King's School

  1. Letter from May Wedderburn Cannan to Miss Trotter about the anthology Valour and Vision: Poems of the War 1914-1918 [1920?].
Catalogue of three printed volumes of poetry by May Wedderburn Cannan
Finding aid prepared by Tilly Guthrie
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Bodleian Libraries Repository

Weston Library
Broad Street
Oxford OX1 3BG United Kingdom