Reading Group: Henry Stead on the Union of Soviet Writers and 1950s Britain

The Anglo-Russian Research Network will be holding its autumn reading group at the slightly earlier time of 5pm on Friday 5th October 2018 at Pushkin House, Bloomsbury. We will be exploring the Union of Soviet Writers and 1950s Britain.

henry_ouWe are delighted to welcome Dr. Henry Stead, who will be leading the session and sharing some unique archival materials with us.

“Dear Comrade Apletin…” The British Left and the Foreign Commission of the Union of Soviet Writers

This session is based on recent archival findings in Moscow’s Archive of the Muses (RGALI). There was much correspondence between the Foreign Commission of the Union of Soviet Writers and Western writers. Selected written exchanges between the Foreign Commission (particularly Mikhail Apletin and Oksana Krugerskaya) and three British writers (Naomi Mitchison, Doris Lessing and Jack Lindsay) reveal an overwhelmingly warm Anglo-Russian relationship across the Iron Curtain. It is now well documented how delegations of foreign writers were charmed by highly controlled tours of the early Soviet Union, but the genuine and open long lasting friendships that developed between international writers with shared interests and common social and literary ambitions, e.g. world peace and the poetry of Robert Burns…, have been less thoroughly explored. The reading consists of one forthcoming chapter on Anglo-Soviet relations by John Connor and a handful of letter exchanges between the three selected British writers and 52 Vorovsky Street, Moscow.

Henry Stead  is a Leverhulme Early Career Research Fellow in English and Classical Studies at the Open University, UK. He is author of A Cockney Catullus (2015) and co-editor of Greek and Roman Classics in the British Struggle for Social Reform (Bloomsbury, 2015). His current research project is called: “Brave New Classics (1917-1956)”, and it explores the impact of the Russian Revolution on British Culture through the lens of contemporary engagement with the Greek and Roman classics. The first book to come out of this project will be Cecil Day Lewis and Virgil: The Making of a Laureate — forthcoming with Bloomsbury.

The Anglo-Russian Research Network organises termly reading groups for those interested in the interactions between British and Russian culture and politics in the period 1880-1950. These are informal events with plenty of discussion and wine, and are open to all. If you plan to attend, it would be helpful if you could let Rebecca Beasley ( and/ or Matthew Taunton ( know. The discussion will finish at 6.30pm, and anyone available is very welcome to join us for dinner nearby.

Readings for 5th October can be found here. Please email Rebecca Beasley ( and/ or Matthew Taunton ( and we will send you a password so that you can access these materials.