Letter from William Plomer to The Hogarth Press (21/12/1924)



[[MS 2750/351/2]]




21st  Dec 1924


My dear Hogarth Press,


Your letter of 15/7/24 was a model of forbearance and candour. You were so kind as to hope that I would submit the MS [manuscript] of my novel. It is coming. Now without presuming to influence your taste (which I honour secretly, from afar, as almost infallible) I allow myself to offer you a little balance-sheet. I don’t say that it has anything to do with the value of the work as writing; I only flatter myself that you may be interested.


In the writing of the book these were some of my ASSETS,


1. I do not depend on writing for my living, and I do not intend to, in case I should be






2 [page number added by Plomer]


obliged to write that which I should be ashamed of; i.e. my stomach is not allowed to get between me and my work.


2. Energy.


3.  I desire to set myself a standard as high as yours, my dear Hogarth Press.


4.  Sooner or later I shall ‘come into my own.’ I come first to you for assistance.


5. A tendency to satire. Is it to be encouraged?


6. I am young.



[the list of 'drawbacks' begins on page one [[1]] of the letter, however, the table drawn within this letter has been transcribed in two halves, 'assets' and then 'drawbacks'. Drawbacks feature on page [[2]] of the transcription]


and these some of my DRAWBACKS.


1. I have no leisure. When I write, it is under the hardest of conditions. I write without silence, peace, light, air, or ease.


2. I lack intellectual stimuli.


3.  I lack modesty.


4. I lack reticence.


5. I have no typewriter. For this I lay before you my humblest apologies, and my pencilled MS [manuscript].


6. I am young.






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If I ever return to England I shall make a bee-line for Tavistock Square. As a fair warning, I should like to protest that I am not as aggressive in the flesh as I am in this letter. You would find me quite ‘nice to know.’ (Am I wasting your time?) If by chance you should desire to print “Turbott Wolfe” please remember that I submit it to you as a piece of writing (I haven’t the vanity yet to say ‘as literature’ or ‘as a work of art’) - not as a collecting-box for halfpence. Although I am extremely poor & more overworked than any prime minister (Entumeni is a trading-station, and it is mine); although I am always thankful for the smallest sums of money that come to me; yet I earnestly beg that you will only refrain from printing “Tubott Wolfe” because:-


Perhaps 1. You would lose money by it.


and/or 2. You w[oul]d. do your reputation no good by it.


and/or 3. You think it is a “rotten novel.”


I know the book is short. I can’t make it any longer. It seems to me complete. I enclose with the MS [manuscript] a title-page & end-piece done by my own hand: these you might care






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to use if you printed the work. I also enclose a page of quotations to precede the whole. It might be as well to insert some such note as this:-


“This is a work of fiction. The characters are not intended to refer to living persons, and their opinions need not necessarily be taken for my own.”


So now I await your answer.


I am | yours faithfully | William Plomer [signature]

Rights Statement:

Reproduced with the permission of the estate of the author, courtesy of Penguin Random House Archive and Library. This item has not been made available through a CC By-ND-NC licence, please see our terms of use page for further detail

Source: MS 2750/351/2

Image Rights Holder: Estate of William Plomer

Letter from William Plomer to The Hogarth Press (21/12/1924)



University of Reading, Special Collections

Archival Folder:

Plomer writes to enclose his manuscript and thanks the press for allowing him to send it. He offers information on what he believes to be assets and drawbacks, particularly in terms of his own personal attributes and what he feels he can offer with his writing. Plomer reminds the press that with his submission of Turbott Wolfe, his writing should not be considered a work of art, nor as a collection box. He briefly talks about his feelings regarding his work at the trading post in Entumeni. Plomer also gives three conditions that should be considered if the press were to refrain from publishing his work. He discusses the manuscript's length, title page, end piece, quotations, and includes a note they might like to print.

Handwritten letter signed by Plomer