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Edward James (1907 - 1984)

Updated: Jan 11


Edward James was famous as a patron of the arts, notably of the Surrealists; however, it was as a poet that he wished to be remembered.


He once remarked that after his death a ‘flood of [his] poetry would burst upon an astonished world’.


Indeed the extent of his writing was only discovered after his death in 1984, when trunks and suitcases containing papers also yielded up many poems, some scrawled on bits of paper, others in letters to friends.


‘His wealth was a sad barrier to his recognition as a poet’ says Professor Levi.


James, E. (1987) The Heart and the Word. London: George Weidenfeld & Nicolson LTD.



In 1982 I was fortunate enough to meet Edward James, when he came to visit the village of Saint Germans in south east Cornwall, to attend the 'Elephant Fayre', a festival hosted by Peregrine Eliot, Earl of Saint Germans.

Edward played a major role in my leaving Cornwall, and heading out into the world. He once said to me, "you need to leave this place".

Looking back I've often wondered if this was because he recognised that I was gay, and that a small village in Cornwall was not a healthy environment for me.


I told Edward about my plans to leave Cornwall, and how I had had to postpone my plans due to the premature death of my father.

Edward inquired as to where I would like to live. I said I was planning to move to London. He then asked the good friend he was with, Desmond Guinness, if he could help me with accommodation in London. Desmond kindly offered me the use an apartment in the Kings Road - an offer I never took him up on.





I mentioned to Edward that I was considering a move to Los Angeles. He gave me a contact there to get in touch with, Paul Rucha, saying that I should mention Edward's name and Mr. Rucha would look after me. At this Edward's traveling companion, said that Edward should not have suggested me staying with Mr. Rucha as he was a homosexual. Edward looked to me, with a slight grin, and said that he thought I would be fine.

I replied that Yes, I would be fine.


Edward said that he thought I would become bored of Los Angeles in a matter of weeks, and that I should then call him in Mexico. He would then send his private plane to collect me and bring me to his home in Mexico. This felt kind of surreal in itself, as I had hardly left the confines of Cornwall, other that the odd family holiday abroad and a few trips to London.

To this day,I have kept the Elephant Fayre ticket, with the information he wrote for me.


Edward and I kept in touch. He gave me his contact numbers at West Dean, his house in England, and his apartment at the Paris Ritz.



We would have occasional telephone conversations, at which I would tell him about my new life in London and how happy I was there, and how I was not looking to move on at that time.

My life progressed and our contact diminished, then one day I heard that Edward James had passed away.

Ive often thought what might have been, had I taken Edward up on his very kind offer, and I had moved on from London and traveled to his home in Mexico. I have no regrets in life for any of the things I've done, but they do say it's often the things you don't do that you end up regretting. Well looking at the footage and photography of Las Pozas, as beautiful and tranquil as it looks, I fear that in my early twenties, after escaping the very rural confines of Cornwall it might have very rapidly become my idea of absolute hell!


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0oosdgHLTGY&t=252s

https://www.archdaily.com/790389/inside-las-pozas-edward-james-surrealist-garden-in-the-mexican-jungle

https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/articles/2ZgqxKzKS13BZtlc185dXqq/the-english-eccentric-who-bankrolled-the-surrealists



To be continued...


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