David Gascoyne & British Surrealism

A Few Images & Resources



     We gathered a few Gascoyne related links and images to supplement José-Luis Moctezuma’s essay, David Gascoyne’s Surrealist Mode: “Negotiations with the Infinite”, which appears in this issue. Some relate directly to the essay – the full text of Holderlin’s Madness, for example, is now online at

We’ve linked to Gascoyne’s British Library Audio Files where he recounts his time with the Surrealists, and we’ve included images associated with the London Surrealist Exhibition of 1936, such as Sheila Legge’s and Salvador Dali’s iconic Surrealist Bulletin photo documenting Legge’s art performance in Trafalgar Square.

A photo of Dali in his diving suit at the 1936 Exhibition also appears below, along with a few images of a few Surrealist book covers of works translated by Gascoyne, Humphrey Jennings, and even Samuel Beckett, among others.

Internet resources on Surrealism are many, and we’re happy to see the additional studies and images of the work of the ever-present Women of Surrealism such as Eileen Agar and Claude Cahun, but we hope that gathering these few items here might supply a quick look around at some of the sources that are more specifically connected to the poet David Gascoyne.

David Gascoyne – Scrapbook About 1940 – 1944

From National Galleries of Scotland:This collaged memory book, compiled during the Second World War, looks back over a period of intense involvement that Gascoyne had with Surrealism. The scrapbook is one of a series produced by Gascoyne during the 1940s, using material he had gathered whilst preparing his publication, ‘A Short Survey of Surrealism’ in 1935. It is a compendium of photographs, catalogues, prospectuses, published and manuscript texts, press cuttings, and so forth, together with several original collages and painted ornaments by Gascoyne himself, all ordered thematically.

Above: David Gascoyne – Notebook, p. 78 – 79Projection of Rubbish, Anima, Animus drawing
Yale University – Beinecke Digital Collections

Poemes de la Folie de Hölderlin by Jouve
The full text of
Hölderlin’s Madness

by David Gascoyne is online at 


Below: a segment on Hölderlin’s Madness from
Night Thoughts: The Surreal Life of the Poet David Gascoyne:
by Robert Fraser, Oxford University Press, 2012, p.137

Conquest of the Irrational

by Salvador Dali (1935).

Julian Levy Publisher
image from the:
Salvador Dali Book Collector Blogspot

David Gascoyne Poems 1937-1942


Design by Graham Sutherland

Editions Poetry London, 1943

David Emery Gascoyne, 1942
ink, Lucian Freud

David Gascoyne, Perseus and Andromeda 1936
from the Tate Museum



A Short Survey of Surrealism

David Gascoyne
Cobden-Sanderson, 1935
cover collages by Max Ernst

What is Surrealism?

Criterion Miscellany-No.43.
Andre Breton, translated by David Gascoyne.
Faber and Faber Limited, London, 1936. Minster Gate image via

Remove Your Hat

Benjamin Peret translated by
David Gascoyne & Humphrey Jennings
Roger Roughton Contemporary
Poetry & Prose Editions, Number One
Second Edition, 1936

Thorns of Thunder

Paul Eluard, Thorns of Thunder.
Selected Poems edited by George Reavey.
Translated from the French by Samuel Beckett,
Denis Devlin, David Gascoyne, Eugene Jolas,
Man Ray, George Reavey and Ruthven Todd.
Europa Press & Stanley Nott, London, 1936,

The Magnetic Fields

by André Breton and Philippe Soupault, published in an edition of 300 copies by Atlas Press, London, 1985. This is the first English translation (by David Gascoyne) of the “automatic writing” in Les Champs magnétiques (1919), the first Surrealist book.

From Rick Poyner
History of Surrealism on pinterest:

Poster by Max Ernst for the
International Surrealist Exhibition at the
New Burlington Galleries, London, 1936

Surrealism, Herbert Read, editor
Faber and Faber, 1936
Cover Design: Roland Penrose

National Life Story Collection: Artists’ Lives

Gascoyne, David. (Part 4 of 11)

David Gascoyne recounts his life story for the British Library in eleven audio recordings which they’ve posted online.    Part Four contains much on Gascoyne’s connections to the Surrealists.

Part 4 of 11 Abstract:

1935 visit to Paris. Meeting with Paul Eluard. Meeting André Breton, intimidating. Surrealist daily meetings at Café de la Place Blanche, six o’clock. Details of who came.

David Gascoyne (DG) employed by Dali to translate, ‘Conquest of the Irrational’ an essay for New York catalogue. Worked at Dali’s apartment, description. Use of lens attached to his eye when painting for magnification and fine brush of onlyhree hairs.

Dali. Surrealist plans for lectures and events. Dali wanted an old lady on stage with pink tape up her arms from her fingers, an omelette and a spirit lamp. Dali had been shy, Gala helped him develop persona for American public. DG reviewed biography of Gala, ‘Wicked Lady’ in TLS. Eluard visited with daughter, Cecilie who was shy and wanted to be loved by her mother Gala.

Eluard read his poems, including love poem dedicated to Gala. Eluard remarried by this time. Had met Man Ray, saw photographs of Nusch, Réné Crevel suicide.

1935 congress of Intellectuals for the Defence of Culture against Fascism. Surrealists still close to Communist party. Crevel ambivalent. Crevel funeral. Details of who attended the congress and of Breton attacking Ehrenbourg, the Soviet delegate who had accused Surrealists of being pederasts.

Breton had a horror of homosexuality, Crevel was the only homosexual within circle. DG collected rare documentation about Surrealist events. Tristan Tzara. Beckett and DG translate Eluard’s ‘Thorns of Thunder’ 1936. Conversations with Breton. DG translation mistake in Breton text.

International Surrealist Exhibition
New Burlington Galleries, London June 1936

Image above from

Salvador Dali in his Diving Suit
International Surrealist Exhibition
London, 1936


Sheila Legge in performance in Trafalgar Square
and shown left, carrying the leg prop.



from: Manchester Confidential September 22, 2009

Albert Square and the Surrealist Phantom:

     In 1936, Salvador DalÍ collaborated with fellow surrealist Sheila Legge to stage a surrealist happening in Trafalgar Square. Legge appeared as The Phantom of Sex Appeal dressed in a long white satin dress, her face completely obscured by paper roses and ladybirds. Photographs of this event showing pigeons perching on the Phantom’s arms have become an iconic surrealist image.

Following Legge’s appearance as the Surrealist Phantom in Trafalgar Square, she wandered the exhibition, carrying a pork chop in one hand, and an artificial leg in the other, but the pork chop had to be abandoned on account of the heat.


International Surrealist

London, 1936

Click here for the full .pdf file of this catalogue

List of Contributors to the Exhibition

Signed association copies of the catalogue:



This entry was posted on in homepage. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.