The Themerson Archive Catalogue
Three Volumes (vol I, Letters and Documents; vol II, The Themersons, vol III, Gaberbocchus)
1000 pp., 8 x 12 in, 1000 figures
- Published: November 3, 2020
- Publisher: The MIT Press
Documents, photographs, and artwork from the archive of Stefan and Franciszka Themerson, including material from their small avant-garde press Gaberbocchus.
This monumental three-volume set documents the life and work of writer, publisher, and filmmaker Stefan Themerson (1910–1988) and his wife, painter, illustrator, and theater designer Franciszka Themerson (1907–1988). The Themersons, active members of the Polish avant-garde, lived in Paris beginning in 1938, and found their way to London during World War II. In London, they continued their artistic practice, individually and in collaboration, and founded the small avant-garde press Gaberbocchus. At Gaberbocchus (the press's name is a Latinized “Jabberwocky”), they published the first English editions of works by Alfred Jarry, Raymond Queneau, the Pataphysicians, and others, alongside work by young English writers outside the commercial mainstream.
Volume I collects the Themersons' correspondence, with recipients ranging from the philosopher Bertrand Russell to the Themersons' house cleaner. Volume II documents the Themersons' lives—successes and frustrations, work and travel, filmography and exhibitions. Volume III presents the history of the Gaberbocchus Press from 1942 to 1979, including all publications, details of work on the books, reviews, and day-to-day life at the Press. It also chronicles the Common Room (1957–1959), a London club located in the basement of Gaberbocchus Press, founded to bring together the arts and sciences. In words and images, poetry and doodles, satire and seriousness, these volumes evoke fifty years of independent creative enterprise in a cold climate.