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 You will need to make an appointment in advance to use this collection material in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library reading room. You can schedule an appointment once you've submitted your request through your Special Collections Research Account.

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manuscripts for the novels Little Friends and and Angels' Faces, as well as the manuscript for Late Starter, an unpublished sequel to Duncan's memoir The Same Language.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

You will need to make an appointment in advance to use this collection material in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library reading room. You can schedule an appointment once you've submitted your request through your Special Collections Research Account.

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.

Accruals

Materials may have been added to the collection since this finding aid was prepared. Contact rbml@columbia.edu for more information.

Ownership and Custodial History

Gift of Ben Duncan and Dick Chapman, 1990.

Acquisition

Donated by Ben Duncan and Dick Chapman in three installments beginning in 1990.

04/05/1990 M-90-04-05 Papers Duncan, Ben and Dick Chapman Gift

09/07/1993 M-93-09-07 135 items Duncan, Ben Gift

Ben Duncan, Gift 2004.2005.M038

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 (document genres) Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Manuscripts for publication Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Receipts (financial records) Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Reviews (documents) 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
Executives Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Expatriate authors -- England Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Gay authors Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Gay autobiographies Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Gay male couples Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Gay men -- England Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
LGBTQ+ immigrants 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

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.

External users and Columbia affiliates may view materials on-site at RBML. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, only Columbia affiliates may view materials on-site at Avery, Starr, and Burke. After clicking 'Submit Request', users will login with their UNI and password (Columbia affiliates) or their special collections account (external users). Appointments are required and will be arranged according to each individual repository's policy.


Series I: Correspondence and Personal Materials, 1939-1995



Box 1 Chapman to Duncan, 1956-1957, (10 folders)


Box 1 Duncan to Chapman, 1956-1957, (8 folders)



Box 5 Folder 26-27 Correspondence, 1946-1995



Box 1 Business-related correspondence, (1 folder)


Box 1 General correspondence



Box 5 Folder 23 School Grade Report for Ben Duncan, 1939


Box 5 Folder 24 Newspaper clipping re: Ben Duncan, 1950 February 19

Series II: Manuscripts and Publications, 1954-1973



Box 2 Angels' Faces


Box 2 The Family


Box 2 Little Friends



Box 3 Other Ways of Living



Box 5 Folder 25 List of previous submissions of his autobiography


Box 5 Folder 22 "My Antonia," a play in one act. 15 pages


Box 5 Folder 19 Jolly Journal


Box 5 Folder 20 Truly Yours. Play scenario, 5 pages



Box 3 Printed materials:


Box 3 Reviews of Little Friends


Box 3 Reviews of The Same Language


Box 3 Printed materials, miscellaneous


Box 3 Little Friends, , (1 bound volume)


Box 3 The Same Language, , (1 bound volume)



Box 4 Short Cuts: Using Texts to Explore English by Mel Calman and Ben Duncan


Box 4 Late Starter by Ben Duncan. Bound Mss of his autobiography, 226 pages



Box 5 Folder 26 The Thunderbird and The Sunday Journal Trends, 2000 October 29, November 5


BBC Writings:



Box 4 Folder 1 The Last Yank at Oxford by Ben Duncan in The Listener Volume LI, No. 1315, 1954 May 13


Box 4 Folder 2 The Last Yank at Oxford by Ben Duncan. Mss of playscript, 17 pages


Box 4 Folder 3 A Yank Among the Debs by Ben Duncan. Mss of radio-script, 8 pages, 1955


Box 4 Folder 4 Essay on post-WWII writers by Ben Duncan. Mss, 7 pages (with German printed version), 1955


Box 4 Folder 5 Drawn From Life by Ben Duncan. Mss of radio-script, 8 pages, 1956


Box 4 Folder 6 An Innocent in Greece by Ben Duncan. Mss of radio-script, 9 pages, 1961


Box 4 Folder 7 Woman's Hour From Cambridge No. 30, 8 pages and 6 pages, 27 November 1973


Box 4 Folder 8 Woman's Hour. Quote from In Cap and Gown, 3 pages (2 copies)


Box 4 Folder 9 Woman's Hour: Poetry on a Theme: Home, 8 pages


Box 4 Folder 10 Woman's Hour , 9 May 1973

Series III: Essays, 1948, undated


Box 4 Folder 11 "As I See It: a good word for Puritans," 4 pages


Box 4 Folder 12 "A Visit Home," 5 pages


Box 4 Folder 13 "Alone," 4 pages


Box 4 Folder 14 "A Man In The House," 4 pages


Box 4 Folder 15 "Doing It Yourself," 4 pages


Box 4 Folder 16 "Tea Time," 2 pages


Box 4 Folder 17 "E.M. Forster," 5 pages


Box 4 Folder 18 "Age," 3 pages


Box 4 Folder 19 "Acting," 4 pages


Box 4 Folder 20 "Ely Cathedral," 3 pages


Box 4 Folder 21 "Elections," 3 pages


Box 4 Folder 22 "Spices," 3 pages


Box 4 Folder 23 "St George's Hospital," 3 pages


Box 4 Folder 24 "Conferences," 3 pages


Box 4 Folder 25 "Army and Business," 3 pages


Box 4 Folder 26 "Vivien Leigh," 3 pages


Box 4 Folder 27 "Teaching," 6 pages


Box 4 Folder 28 "Chinese Exhibition," 4 pages


Box 4 Folder 29 "Horticulture," 3 pages


Box 4 Folder 30 "Non-Smokers," 4 pages


Box 4 Folder 31 "The Speed Limit," 4 pages


Box 4 Folder 32 "Magistrate's Court," 4 pages


Box 4 Folder 33 "Protest," 4 pages



Box 5 Folder 1 "Mary Quant Exhibition," 3 pages


Box 5 Folder 2 "Obscenity Legislation," 3 pages


Box 5 Folder 3 "Male Midwife," 3 pages


Box 5 Folder 4 "My Part of England," 5 pages


Box 5 Folder 5 "Education," 4 pages


Box 5 Folder 6 "British Style and Dress," 4 pages


Box 5 Folder 7 "Private and Public Language," 3 pages


Box 5 Folder 8 "British and American Language," 6 pages


Box 5 Folder 9 "Thomas Wolfe," 27 pages


Box 5 Folder 10 "The South," 22 pages


Box 5 Folder 11 "Return to Birmingham, Alabama," 13 pages


Box 5 Folder 12 "Mr. Forster," 10 pages


Box 5 Folder 13 "The Novels of E.M. Forster," 5 pages


Box 5 Folder 14 "E.M. Forster," 14 pages


Box 5 Folder 15 "The Warrior," 4 pages


Box 5 Folder 16 "Hamlet and Death," 8 pages, 1948 December 3


Box 5 Folder 17 "She Dwelt Among the Untrodden Ways," 2 pages


Box 5 Folder 18 "Education in Birmingham, Alabama," 11 pages


Box 5 Folder 21 "Features of Verse and Evidences of Miltonic Characteristics in Lines 220-240 of Paradise Lost," 4 pages