Terry Dunstan Thompson was born in New London, Conn., Aug. 30, 1918, the only son of Terry B. Thompson, a Naval officer, and Virginia Leita Thompson. Raised in a devout Catholic family, Thompson was educated at a variety of Catholic schools before entering Harvard in 1936. During his three years at Harvard, Thompson began exploring his vocation as a writer, especially as a poet; during this time Thompson experienced a loss of faith and left the Catholic Church and, at the same time, embarked on a homosexual lifestyle. After leaving Harvard, without graduating, Thompson lived mainly in New York until he was drafted into the Army in 1942. During his time in New York, he edited, along with Harry Brown, a short-lived literary magazine entitled, Vice versa. In October, 1943, Thompson was posted to England and quickly met the leading literary figures of war-time London, inlcuding T.S. Eliot, John Lehmann, Cyril Connolly, the Sitwells, and Stephen Spender. During this year, Thompson published his first volume of poetry, Poems, to overall positive American reviews. Thompson's first book was followed by a second book of poetry, Lament for the sleepwalker (1947), a travel book, The phoenix in the desert (1951), and a novel, The dove with the bough of olive (1954), a posthumous collection of poetry, Poems, 1950-1974, was published in 1984. After World War II, Thompson settled in England, to live in a small Norfolk town, Cley-Next-the-Sea, with Philip Trower, a fellow writer and artist. In 1952, after several years of drawing closer to the faith of his childhood, Thompson returned to the Catholic Church, and thereafter lived a platonic life of friendship with Philip Trower, until Thompson's death on Jan. 19, 1975, from complications of liver cancer.
Scope and Content
The collection consists of manuscripts by Dunstan Thompson, including book reviews, diaries, essays, plays, poems, and short stories, and correspondence (both to and from Thompson), photographs, drawings and ephemera. Correspondents represented in the collection include: Harry Brown, Cyril Connolly, Paul Dehn, T.S. Eliot, Edith Sitwell, Osbert Sitwell, Stephen Spender, Philip Trower, Howard R. Turner, and Oscar Williams. Business correspondents include: William Abrahams, Margot Johnson, John Lehmann, Simon and Schuster and William Morris Agency.
Organized in the following manner: 1. Manuscripts (Boxes 1-4); 2. Correspondence (Boxes 5-8); 3. Photographs & Prints (Box 9); 4. Drawings & Prints (Box 10); 5. Ephemera (Boxes 10-11); arranged alphabetically. Restrictions: all photocopies, for which the Huntington does not own the original manuscript, may not be copied in any way, as noted in the Container List and on the folders.