Rare Book & Manuscript Library
 

Ben Duncan and Dick Chapman papers, 1939-2000

Summary Information

Abstract

Ben Duncan (1927-2016) was an American-born English writer and advertising executive. His partner, Dick Chapman (1930-2012), was an English advertising executive. The collection includes correspondence Duncan and Chapman exchanged between 1956 and 1957, when Chapman worked in New York City, away from the couple's home in England. It also includes Duncan's literary manuscripts and published materials.

At a Glance

Call No.: MS#0370
Bib ID 4079734 View CLIO record
Creator(s) Duncan, Ben ; Chapman, Dick
Title Ben Duncan and Dick Chapman papers, 1939-2000
Physical Description 2.15 linear feet (5 boxes)
Language(s) English .
Access

This collection is located off-site. You will need to request this material at least three business days in advance to use the collection in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library reading room.

Arrangement

Arrangement

Arranged in three series.

Description

Scope and Content

The collection contains the correspondence of Ben Duncan and Dick Chapman, as well as Duncan's manuscripts and published materials. Series I: Correspondence and Personal Materials consists chiefly of letters exchanged daily between Duncan and Chapman during 1956 and 1957. At the time Duncan, an American, was working in advertising in England, and Chapman, an Englishman, was working in advertising in New York. These letters illuminate the experiences of a gay couple living on both sides of the Atlantic during the mid-1950s. They also provide a broader perspective on daily life, including such topics as books, plays, current events, and customs of that period. Letters between Duncan and his literary agent, Tony Mendez, and his publishers are included in the series as well.

Series II: Manuscripts and Publications includes manuscripts for the novels Little Friends and and Angels' Faces, as well as the manuscript for Late Starter, an unpublished sequel to Duncan's memoir The Same Language. Radio-scripts for essays read by Duncan on the BBC in the 1950s-1970s are also present in the series. Finally, the series includes printed articles by Duncan; reviews of his work; and copies of three of his books, The Same Language, Little Friends, and Short Cuts.

Series III: Essays contains manuscripts of short essays written by Ben Duncan.

Using the Collection

Rare Book and Manuscript Library

Restrictions on Access

This collection is located off-site. You will need to request this material at least three business days in advance to use the collection in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library reading room.

Terms Governing Use and Reproduction

Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. The RBML maintains ownership of the physical material only. Copyright remains with the creator and his/her heirs. The responsibility to secure copyright permission rests with the patron.

Preferred Citation

Identification of specific item; Date (if known); Ben Duncan and Dick Chapman papers; Box and Folder; Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University Library.

Related Material

Dallas Pratt Documents Collection - Chapman wrote and privately printed a biography of Pratt.

John Howard Papers, Duke University - John Howard edited Ben Duncan's 2005 revision of his memoir, The Same Language.

Ownership and Custodial History

Gift of Ben Duncan and Dick Chapman, 1990.

About the Finding Aid / Processing Information

Columbia University Libraries, Rare Book and Manuscript Library

Processing Information

Papers Entered in AMC 02/1991 HR

135 items Processed 06/13/1997 HR

Addition processed by PTL 9/2013

Finding aid revised by KWS and CLB, 3/2018

The collection was closed to researchers until the deaths of both Chapman and Duncan, according to the conditions of the donors' agreement with the Rare Book and Manuscript Library. In March 2018, the finding aid was revised to remove restrictions, include information about Ben Duncan and Dick Chapman's partnership and marriage, and to comply with the DACS 2.0 standard. The title of the collection was also changed from the Ben Duncan Papers to the Ben Duncan and Dick Chapman Papers, to reflect the fact that it had two creators.

Revision Description

2009-06-26 File created.

2018-03-09 Restriction lifted. Revised for DACS 2.0 compliance.

2018-03-13 Collection title and description revised to reflect multiple creators.

2019-05-20 EAD was imported spring 2019 as part of the ArchivesSpace Phase II migration.

Subject Headings

The subject headings listed below are found in this collection. Links below allow searches at Columbia University through the Archival Collections Portal and through CLIO, the catalog for Columbia University Libraries, as well as ArchiveGRID, a catalog that allows users to search the holdings of multiple research libraries and archives.

All links open new windows.

Genre/Form

Heading "CUL Archives:"
"Portal"
"CUL Collections:"
"CLIO"
"Nat'l / Int'l Archives:"
"ArchivedGRID"
Articles Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Contracts Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Financial records Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Greeting cards Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Lists Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Manuscripts for publication Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Receipts Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Reviews Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID

Subject

Heading "CUL Archives:"
"Portal"
"CUL Collections:"
"CLIO"
"Nat'l / Int'l Archives:"
"ArchivedGRID"
Advertising -- England -- 20th century Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Advertising -- United States -- 20th century Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Advertising executives Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Authors -- 20th century -- Correspondence Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Authors, American -- 20th century Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Businessmen -- 20th century Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Chapman, Dick Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Duncan, Ben Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
England -- Intellectual life -- 20th century Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
England -- Social life and customs -- 20th century Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Executives Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Expatriate authors -- England Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Gay men -- England Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Popular culture -- England -- 20th century Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Popular culture -- History -- 20th century Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Popular culture -- United States -- History -- 20th century Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Southern States Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
United States -- Intellectual life -- 20th century Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
United States -- Social life and customs -- 20th century Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID

History / Biographical Note

Biography

Ben Duncan (1927-2016) was an American-born English writer and advertising executive. He lived for most of his life in England with his partner and eventual husband, the English advertising executive Dick Chapman (1930-2012).

Duncan met Chapman at Oxford and proposed to him in 1952. More than fifty years later, on December 21, 2005, the couple became the first people in Cambridgeshire to form a legal civil partnership. They remained married until Chapman's death in 2012. Duncan died in 2016.

Duncan is perhaps best known for his memoir The Same Language. The book was originally published in 1962, a time when homosexuality was illegal and aggressively prosecuted in Britain. As a result, the original edition omitted any mention of his sexuality or life with Chapman. In 2005, Duncan published a substantial revision, in which he reflected on the impact of concealing those aspects of his identity, and recounted life in the underground British gay community in the 1950s and 1960s.