Edward Elgar: Collected Correspondence is a uniform edition embracing all known correspondence to and from the composer, and between third parties where it addresses matters integral to our understanding of Elgar's own correspondence, his music and the man himself. Building on the model established by Dr Moore’s volumes published by Oxford University Press, the correspondence will provide the main narrative thrust to each volume, with a minimum of explanatory text. Throughout the series, each volume will be arranged chronologically but will generally confine itself to one subject or chain of correspondence. However, as with Elgar and his Publishers, some subjects will perforce be divided chronologically between more than one volume, while other volumes may similarly embrace more than one subject, each with a separate chronology.
It is too soon to describe this edition as the Complete Correspondence: such a conceit is only just being attempted for Wagner and even Mozart, and more Elgarian correspondence is certain to emerge over the period during which this series is published. Thus, while we have constructed a schema for the whole series, it is premature to announce a definitive list of volumes whose scope and boundaries will inevitably require subsequent adjustment to accommodate newly discovered material. Instead, to provide the flexibility for such adjustments, we have divided the edition, like the Complete Edition, into a number of separate series, each dealing with one of the main aspects of Elgar’s life:
- Series I: Letters of a Lifetime, providing an introduction to Elgar the correspondent;
- Series II: Family and friends, comprising correspondence with Carice, Alice, Elgar’s parents, brother and sisters, nieces and nephews; the ‘friends pictured within’ the Variations and other Worcester/Malvern friends such as Rosa Burley and the Leicesters; sponsors, supporters and dedicatees such as Dr Buck, Canon Gorton, Kilburn, Embleton, Rodewald, Schuster, the Speyers, and George Bernard Shaw; The Windflower Letters and The Elgar-Atkins Friendship; and letters of condolence on Alice’s and Edward’s death.
- Series III: Elgar at work, covering his correspondence with his collaborators, performers, promoters and the critics, matters of church and state, correspondence with academia, and including Elgar and his Publishers and Elgar on Record;
- Series IV: Elgar and the arts, covering his correspondence with other composers and musicians, those in the theatre, artists and painters, writers, literary figures and scholars.
And then there are the diaries, not just Alice’s but also Edward’s and Carice’s, enough for a series to themselves (Series V). Previously published incomplete and only in facsimile on microfilm at a four-figure price by Birmingham University in the 1990s, our volumes of the diaries are already in an advanced state of preparation, with a commentary relating them to the personalities and events to which each entry refers, bringing a new understanding to the often oblique entries. A listing of published and projected volumes can be found by following this link.
In general, previously published volumes will not be re-edited, although the opportunity will be taken to update and expand references, correct typographical errors and include the occasional, more recently discovered letter. To assist those directed from one of the multitude of references already in the literature, each republished volume will contain an index relating the page numbering of the earlier edition to that in the new edition.
Inevitably, many of Elgar’s close correspondents will be encountered in several volumes. To avoid repetition of essential biographical background, we have published at an early stage a volume of short biographies of all correspondents and the 5,000 or so people mentioned in the diaries, which will be updated through this website as supplementary information comes to light. And when our task is completed, we shall issue a general index to the whole series.
All volumes will be published in a standard format: an octavo (148mm x 232mm) page size in sewn sections, with a hardback blue cloth cover with silver blocking and a full-cover dust jacket. Our aim is to publish volumes of between 400 and 600 pages.
As with the Complete Edition, it is our intention to publish all volumes at a uniform price, initially of £40. But those intending to purchase volumes regularly can obtain significant discounts on the full publication price by taking out a subscription).