English and Drama blog

On literature and theatre collections from the 16th century to the present day

04 June 2013

The Keepsake Kiss

The Library has been very fortunate to acquire a copy of The Kiss, a poem by Paul Roche with a line drawing by Duncan Grant. The poem, published by the Keepsake Press in 1974, is part of the Keepsake Poems, a series published between 1972 and 1979.

The Keepsake Press was established by Roy Lewis and even though it published over a 100 books and pamphlets it is the Keepsake Poems for which it is chiefly remembered. The press was active up until the death of Roy Lewis in 1996. The Keepsake Poems include works by notable poets such as Vernon Scannell, Christopher Logue, Charles Causley and George Szirtes. The series numbered 39 in total, of which The Kiss is number 23. The final publication was Walking in the Harz Mountains by D J Enright, illustrated by Madeline Enright. The Kiss is elegantly produced with simple tan wrappers in crown quarto containing one folded sheet with the printed text of the poem offset to the top right and Grant’s oval illustration in the centre. The chapbook was published in an edition of 180 copies.

Duncan Grant first met Paul Roche in London in 1946. This was the start of a relationship which was to last over 32 years until the death of Grant in 1978. Roche began modelling for Grant and was used by Grant as his model for Christ in his murals for the Russell Chantry at Lincoln Cathedral. In later life Roche was to become a noted poet, novelist, and translator of classical texts. Duncan Grant provided illustrations for some of Paul Roche’s publications. Grant provided the illustration for the dust-jacket and the chapter decorations for Roche’s first novel O Pale Galilean (1954, British Library shelfmark NNN.5238). A portrait of Paul Roche by Grant was used for the dust-jacket of All Things Considered (1966, shelfmark X.908/7703) this portrait was additionally reproduced as the book’s frontispiece. Grant also provided the design for the dust-jacket of Roche’s collection of poetry Enigma Variations And (1974, shelfmark YA.1991.a.160054).

Duncan Grant died at Paul Roche’s home in Aldermaston on the 9 May 1978. A month later in June a memorial service was held for Grant at St. Paul’s Cathedral. In 2004 the Library was able to purchase a copy of the Order of Service (shelfmark RF.2004.a.131) in which is printed Roche’s poem ‘The Artist’ which he read at the service. This new acquisition is a fitting addition to the Library’s collections and complements delightfully our existing holdings of collaborations between Duncan Grant and Paul Roche.


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