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James Elroy Flecker Collection 

The Old Ships cover, 1915The Special Collections and Archives hold a number of works by and relating to James Elroy Flecker (1884-1915), English poet, playwright and novelist. These were donated by David Elyan.

Flecker was born in Lewisham, London on 5th November, 1884.  He was Christened Herman Elroy Flecker, but whilst at Oxford he came to dislike his foreign sounding name and adopted the name James instead.  He was the eldest son of the Rev. W. H. Flecker, first Headmaster of Dean Close School. At the age of two, James moved to the school with his family.  Following an early education at nurseries, kindergartens and a local preparatory school, James became one of his father's pupils at the age of 9.  This was followed, at the age of 17, by 18 months at Uppingham.  Flecker then attended Trinity College Oxford (1906-1908), and also Caius College Cambridge (1908-1910), where he studied oriental languages in preparation for a consular career. Flecker was at Cambridge at the same time as Rupert Brooke, but the pair only met in literary circles.

In June 1910 he sailed from Marseilles to take up a minor consular post in Constantinople, where he was diagnosed with tuberculosis and had to return to England.  Following a period of convalescence, in March 1911 he returned to Constantinople.  On arrival he was sent to Smyrna.  Although he suffered a further bout of illness, he married Hellé Skiadaressi on 25 May 1911 in Athens. She was three years older than Flecker and her late father was a fashionable Athens doctor.  They had met on board ship during part of his first trip to Constantinople. The wedding was followed by three months sick leave from consular duties, during which the Fleckers stayed in Corfu.  Instead of returning to Smyrna, Flecker was ordered to Beirut to take up the post of acting Vice-Consul.  It was while there that Flecker got to know T.E. Lawrence.

In May 1913, following further bouts if illness a doctor ordered him to a Swiss Sanatorium. Being too unwell to attend a medical in London, Flecker resigned his Consulate post in May 1914.  During his time in Switzerland he continued to write and when too ill to write he would dictate to Hellé.  He died in Davos on 3 January 1915 and is buried in the Cheltenham Cemetery.  His grave is marked by a granite cross, inscribed with Flecker's own words: "O Lord, restore his realm to the dreamer".

Flecker’s best known works, the poem The Golden Journey to Samarkand and the play The Story of Hassan of Baghdad and How he came to Make the Golden Journey to Samarkand (1922 posthumously), portray the Middle Eastern influences present throughout his short adult life.

We hold the following items within our James Elroy Flecker Collection, in order of publication:

  • Flecker, James Elroy, The Bridge of Fire (Elkin Matthews, London, 1907)
  • Flecker, James Elroy, The Last Generation — A Story of the Future (New Age Press, London, 1908)
  • Flecker, James Elroy, The Grecians (J.M. Dent, London, 1910)
  • Flecker, James Elroy, Thirty-Six Poems (The Adelphi Press, London, 1910)
  • Flecker, James Elroy, Forty-Two Poems (J.M. Dent, London, 1911)
  • Flecker, James Elroy, The Golden Journey to Samarkand (Goschen, London, 1913)
  • Flecker, James Elroy, The King of Alsander (Goschen, London, 1914)
  • Flecker, James Elroy, The Old Ships (The Poetry Bookshop, 1915)
  • Flecker, James Elroy, God Save the King, a new version (The Poetry Bookshop, London, c.1915)
  • Flecker, James Elroy (ed. Sir John Squire), Collected Poems (Secker, London, 1916)
  • Flecker, James Elroy (ed. Sir John Squire) Collected Poems (Doubleday, Page & Co., New York, 1916)
  • Flecker, James Elroy (ed. Sir John Squire) Selected Poems (Secker, London, 1918)
  • Flecker, James Elroy, Collected Prose (G. Bell, London, 1920)
  • Flecker, James Elroy, 14 Poems with lithographs by Charles Freegrove Winzer (Maurice Darantiáere, Dijon, 1921) No. 16 of 550
  • Flecker, James Elroy, The Golden Journey to Samarkand, Choral Ballard for Mixed Voices (unaccompanied). Music by Graham Godfrey (London, 1922)
  • Flecker, James Elroy, Hassan: The Story of Hassan of Baghdad and how he came to make the Golden Journey to Samarkand. A Play in Five Acts (Heinemann, London, 1922)
  • Goldring, Douglas, James Elroy Flecker (Chapman & Hall, London, 1922)
  • Flecker, James Elroy, Collected Poems (Secker, London, 1923)
  • Flecker, James Elroy, Hassan (Heinemann, London, 1923) No. 171 of 380
  • Flecker, James Elroy, Hassan. With illustrations by Thomas Mackenzie (Heinemann, London, 1924)
  • Flecker, James Elroy, Forty-Two Poems and The Grecians (J.M. Dent, London, 1924)
  • Flecker, James Elroy, Don Juan (Heinemann, London, 1925)
  • Flecker, James Elroy, Don Juan (Alfred A. Knoff, New York, 1925)
  • Hodgson, Geraldine, The Life of James Elroy Flecker (Basil Blackwell, Oxford, 1925)
  • Flecker, James Elroy, Don Juan (Heinemann, London, 1926) No. 55 of 380
  • Flecker, James Elroy (Introduction by Hellé Flecker), The Letters of James Elroy Flecker to Frank Savery (Beaumont Press, London, 1926) No. 225 of 390
  • Flecker, James Elroy, Some Letters from Abroad of James Elroy Flecker, with reminiscences by Hellé Flecker (Heinemann, London, 1930)
  • The Augustan Books of Poetry, James Elroy Flecker (Benn, London, 1931)
  • Flecker, James Elroy, Collected Poems (Secker and Warburg, London, 1946)
  • Flecker, James Elroy, Hassan (Penguin Books, London, 1948)
  • Flecker, James Elroy (Introduction by Basil Dean, The Drama Library), Hassan (Heinemann, London, 1951)
  • Mercer, T.S., James Elroy Flecker: From School to Samarkand (Merle Press, Thames Ditton, 1952)
  • Flecker, James Elroy, Hassan (The Folio Society, London, 1966)
  • Flecker, James Elroy, Unpublished Poems and Drafts (The Keepsake Press, London, 1971)
  • Sherwood, John, No Golden Journey — A Biography of James Elroy Flecker (Heinemann, London, 1973)
  • Heighway, Elizabeth M., An Examination of Orientalist and Imperialist attitudes in late Victorian and Edwardian England, with special reference to the career and writings of James Elroy Flecker (MA Dissertation, CGCHE, Cheltenham, unpublished, 1992)
  • Flecker, James Elroy, Selected Poems of James Elroy Flecker (Rowan Books, Banffshire, 1999)
University of Gloucestershire, The Park, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, GL50 2RH. Telephone +44 (0)844 8010001.