Biography and History

Desmond Harmsworth (1903-1990), born Cecil Desmond Bernard Harmsworth, was a publisher, poet and artist, and the son of politician Cecil Harmsworth and Emilie Alberta Maffett, and the nephew of the press barons Lord Northcliffe, Alfred Harmsworth, and Lord Rothermere, Harold Harmsworth. Desmond Harmsworth succeeded to the title of 2nd Baron Harmsworth, of Egham, Surrey, upon the death of his father in 1948. Educated at Eton and Christ Church, Oxford, Harmsworth married Dorothy Alexander Heinlein in 1926. Their only child, Margaret, was born in 1928, and is a painter and sculptor. Harmsworth started in the family newspaper business, attended art school at the famed Académie Julian in Paris, and published literary editions under the self-named private press of Desmond Harmsworth Limited. He may be best known for the 1932 limited edition of James Joyce's Pomes Penyeach, illustrated by Joyce's daughter Lucia, which Harmsworth co-published with the Obelisk Press of Paris following Sylvia Beach's first edition of Joyce's poems in 1927. Desmond and Dorothy Harmsworth knew Sylvia Beach (1887-1962) who, in turn, knew Stuart Gilbert (1883-1969), the British author, editor and translator who moved to Paris in 1925 following his retirement as a judge on the Court of Assizes in Burma. Beach became acquainted with Stuart Gilbert through his interest in a French translation of Joyce's Ulysses, and she introduced him to Joyce. Both Gilbert and his French-born wife, Moune (born Marie Agnès Mathilde Douin), also shared a lifelong friendship with Desmond and Dorothy Harmsworth, which is reflected in the correspondence among the four of them in this collection.

Source: From the finding aid for C1302