Referring to Guido Morris in St Ives

GUIDO MORRIS – THE LATIN PRESS, SAINT IVES. Catalogue for The Crypt Exhibition at the New Gallery. Limited edition of 100, paintings & prices Sven Berlin, John Wells, Peter Lanyon, W. Barns-Graham, and Recent Printings by Guido Morris. orig wps, August 2nd, 1947 vg.
Sold for £250

I have recently come across two references to this important gentleman. Firstly in a recent fascinating book by his daughter; The Museum Makers by Rachel Morris. (Subtitled A Journey Backwards-from Old Boxes of Dark Family Secrets to a Golden Era of Museums) She writes-

I have on my shelf four volumes of small, neat books called The Greek Anthology – a collection of ancient Greek poems that Guido gave me. I remember at the time thinking that I had been short-changed on the father front. Is this all a girl gets from her father? No paternal love, no wit or amusement, no advice, no inheritance nor money nor food on the table nor shoes on my feet, not even a presence round the house. Just an absence that went on for years where a father ought to be. But somehow I seem to have held on to those books – through student rooms and travels and an itinerant life in my twenties, my possessions piled up on someone else’s floor until I could come back to claim them. And now when I open them I find a poem by Callimachus, Hellenistic poet at the Library of Alexandria, written in the limpid Greek of the time. In forty words he says what I have taken seventy thousand to explain.

In this glorious memoir, part detective story, Rachel Morris describes how she became fascinated by memories elicited by objects. She shows the strength of women in their maternal creativity and how she became involved with major museums including the V &A and the Ashmolean. She describes too the weakness of men like Guido who lived in a world of medieval romanticism but sadly addicted to drink. She also shows how she worked through her own disappointments and discovered her own creativity. I thoroughly recommend this book which has recently come out in paperback.

Secondly, I was recently fortunate enough to find U.A. Fanthorpe’s New and Collected Poems in an Oxfam shop- at a very reasonable price and showing this to a friend he discovered a late poem which is entitled, THIS AND THAT: GUIDO MORRIS AT ST IVES in which Fanthorpe writes-

He was impractical. Ran out of full-stops.
Charged too much, or too little. Didn’t finish.
Lost touch with helpful friends. And drank; and drank.

The painters and potters lost their singular printer.
The Underground took him. Gill sans-serif ogled him, From Barking to Bond Street, Richmond to Rotherhithe,
How the trains lunge, hesitate, shake and stall,
And the faces focus and fade, and are never known.
He served for twenty years, having no choice.

Unique Guido, who cherished the twenty-six

Soldiers of lead which can conquer the world,

Who did the right thing but never got it right;

By penwithlit

Freelance writer and radio presenter

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