I’ve been back from Tulsa, where I was working in the Stevie Smith archive, for about three weeks now. It was a very rich trip, and I will take some time to process all the treasures I found there.
Today, though: some of the quirkier finds in the archive.
- A lock of Stevie Smith’s hair
I’d seen this in the catalogue, and was prepared, but wasn’t ready to be quite so choked up as I found myself. Relics are painful: the whole complex contrary person you met in the writing is now reduced to a few strands of hair.
I always imagine Smith as grey-haired – as she is in so many photographs – so it was a shock to see how bright this hair is, brown with gold running through it. She must have been quite a young woman when this lock was snipped.
2. Appointment diaries
My favourite was the Enid Blyton diary. Sparsely used: perhaps because Smith was too busy entering its competitions and reading its helpful tips. Can you identify an ox-eye daisy?
3. Smith’s passport
4. An autograph album
Some extraordinarily detailed autographs and drawings in here. People have always found elaborate ways to waste time.
So. Many. Postcards. I’ve written before about Smith and the postcard, and clearly she did keep and send lots and lots of them. Tiny collectable postcards, postcards from Smith, postcards from old aunts, unused postcards. Postcards from Smith’s father also, as we know, but sadly only a photocopy of the famous ‘Off to Valparaiso love Daddy’ one.
All images shared with permission of the McFarlin library, overlaid where appropriate with a watermarked transparency. Many thanks to Marc Carlson at the University of Tulsa.