News | February 22, 2024

Archive of English Writer Penelope Bennett 's Personal Correspondence to Auction

Chiswick Auctions

A selection of the letters

An archive of very personal correspondence relating to the English writer Penelope Bennett (b.1932) comes for sale in London late this month. The cache of close to 400 letters and cards written in the early 1960s was discovered by the seller at an open-air antiques fair last year and has never previously been published.

Some of the letters reference a series of passionate same-sex love affairs. Writing to Miss Satoko Fujiyama in Chelsea she comments: "He wants me to go to Beirut for a holiday, which is rather tempting, but I think I would rather, definitely, be with you." Another letter to Fujiyama includes an IOU "for an endless amount of love which you can have at any time of your life" with the text of another beginning "Dear Midnight Lover. I am writing this midnight telegram in my cold bed, but with hot heat, this warmth, that you make in me."

Some document heartbreak. Many of the letters are from Lina M Slack, an art historian whose published works include a book on ancient rock art in South Africa. "How interesting it was to see all your sex filled letters which decreased bit by bit as your desire waned... your sort of love, but now I see there wasn’t, it was just sex."

Penelope Bennett wrote many articles and short stories for publications such as The Weekend Financial Times, Harpers and Queen, Contemporary Review, Modern Painters, Macmillan's Winter's Tales, The Atlantic Monthly, and Mademoiselle. She published An Endangered Happiness: A Novella and Seven Stories and a children's book titled Town Parrot

The correspondence carries an estimate of £300-400 as part of the sale of Books and Works on Paper at Chiswick Auctions on February 27.