Poems Written Abroad: The Lilly Library Manuscript



Poems Written Abroad is the first publication of the earliest collection of poetry by the famous poet, novelist, literary critic, translator, and radical, Sir Stephen Spender (1909-1995). Spender wrote and compiled this manuscript in 1927, when he was living in Nantes and Lausanne. In tone and diction, Spender's poems range from creatively traditional to unexpectedly innovative. They reflect his reading in Shakespeare and French poetry, as well as his absorption in music and modern art. They also document his struggles with his sexual identity and his emerging desire to devote his life, at whatever cost, to the writing of poetry.

This beautiful facsimile edition, authorized by the Spender estate, faithfully reproduces the features of the original manuscript now held by the Lilly Library, including the frontispiece, an ink drawing by Spender himself, and little-known photographs of the poet. The editor's extensive introduction and detailed explanatory notes situate Spender's juvenilia in the context of his life and work and the history of modern poetry. The volume will appeal to readers with interests in modern poetry, gender studies, and fine books.

Product Details

Indiana University Press
Publish Date
July 01, 2019
6.2 X 0.6 X 9.2 inches | 1.0 pounds

Earn by promoting books

Earn money by sharing your favorite books through our Affiliate program.

Become an affiliate

About the Author

Christoph Irmscher is Provost Professor of English and Director of the Wells Scholars Program at Indiana University. His many books include Louis Agassiz: Creator of American Science and Max Eastman: A Life.


"Poems Written Aboard doesn't have the stupendous weight of his [Spender's] best-known poems or even the clever fun of his prose works, but it is delightful on several other levels. Clearly it's a notebook of someone who wants to be a poet, who must be a poet, and who is spending a summer on the continent, teaching himself the trade.... Christoph Irmscher's fourteen-page introduction, along with his bibliography and notes, tell you all you need to know about the manuscript's history and its details."

--Felice Picano "The Gay & Lesbian Review "

"Highly recommended."