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Douglas Cleverdon

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Title: Douglas Cleverdon  
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Subject: Dylan Thomas, Through the Looking-Glass, David Jones (artist-poet), Under Milk Wood, Bristol Grammar School, Argo Records (UK), Norman Shelley, New Directions Publishing, Hilda Tablet, Howard Thomas
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Douglas Cleverdon

Thomas Douglas James Cleverdon (17 January 1903 – 1 October 1987)[1] was an English radio producer and bookseller. In both fields he was associated with numerous leading cultural figures.

Early life

He was educated at Bristol Grammar School and Jesus College, Oxford. He then set up a bookshop in Bristol.[2] From there he also published.

His first book published was a collection of engravings by Eric Gill, who later made a Book of Alphabets for Douglas Cleverdon. In 1927 he commissioned David Jones to make a set of copper engravings for The Rime of the Ancient Mariner..[3]

Radio work

In 1939 he joined the BBC, where he co-created The Brains Trust with fellow producer Howard Thomas.[4] From 1945 he was in the department headed by Laurence Gilliam.[5] Later, in 1948, Cleverdon would adapt and produce David Jones's major poem In Parenthesis for radio, with Richard Burton and Dylan Thomas,[6] for BBC Radio's Third Programme. In 1954 Cleverdon produced Under Milk Wood, the premier of the Dylan Thomas dramatic poem; according to Jenny Abramsky it had taken seven years to persuade Thomas to write it.[7] At around this time he also worked with Henry Reed on the Hilda Tablet cycle of plays.

He produced programmes for them featuring Max Beerbohm, Ted Hughes, Stevie Smith and many other poets.[8]Sylvia Plath wrote Three Women: A Poem for Three Voices for Cleverdon, in March 1962.[9] Cleverdon was a close friend and near neighbour of the author Jillian Becker, who was a close friend also of Sylvia and it was at Jillian's House in Barnsbury Square that Sylvia spent the last few days of her life. After Sylvia's suicide, Jillian looked after Sylvia's children until relatives arrived and Nest Cleverdon supplied extra clothes for them.

There are at least 232 scripts produced by Cleverdon archived.[10][11]

After leaving the BBC, he was involved with a fine publishing imprint, Clover Hill Editions, which he had established with Will Carter.

He married Elinor Nest Lewis in 1944; she was a secretary at the BBC, and they provided a social focus for producers and performers.[12] The eldest of their three children is Dame Julia Cleverdon.[13]


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