Fonds RC0060 - C. K. Ogden fonds

Title and statement of responsibility area

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C. K. Ogden fonds

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  • [ca. 1910]-[ca. 1976] (Creation)

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Physical description

19.1 m of textual records.

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Name of creator


Biographical history

English semiotician and founder of Basic English, C. K. Ogden can most accurately be described as a polymath. As a Cambridge undergraduate he was drawn to the study of language, and his passion was to be multifaceted, all consuming and lifelong. In 1909 he helped establish the Heretics, a society dedicated to the open discussion of religious matters; in 1910 he began to write for The Cambridge Magazine. The journal won notoriety under Ogden's editorship during the First World War when it avoided the jingoism which consumed most other publications of the time. Also by 1910 Ogden had begun the linguistic research which was to result in his best-known book, The Meaning of Meaning (1923), co-authored with I. A. Richards.

Basic English, the supposed solution to the problem of international misunderstanding to which Ogden was to dedicate the rest of his life, was first revealed in the pages of Ogden's new journal, Psyche in 1929. The effort to win acceptance for Basic English led to the foundation of the Orthological Institute and, as Churchill saw its potential during the Second World War, the establishment of the Basic English Foundation and endless wranglings with bureaucrats. Ogden was also the editor of the prestigious Library of Psychology, Philosophy and Scientific Method and maintained a voluminous correspondence with some of the most influential thinkers of his day. Additional biographical information is available in W. Terrence Gordon, *C. K. Ogden: A Biobibliographic Essay</I>, (Metuchen, New Jersey: 1990).

Custodial history

Scope and content

The fonds consists of seven accruals which have been combined. The first two accruals are arranged into 15 series consisting of incoming correspondence, outgoing correspondence, Cambridge Magazine correspondence and related material, Heretics correspondence and related material, Orthological Institute and Basic English Foundation correspondence and financial material, other Basic English material, manuscripts, diaries and notebooks, articles and publications relating to Ogden and Basic English, photographic and family material, publications received, notes and catalogues relating to Ogden's book and stamp collection, pictorial material and gramophone records, Cambridge Magazine issues and Psyche photocopies.

The third accrual (01-1993) consists of two letters from Siegfried Sassoon. The fourth accrual (12-1993) consists of two groups of letters relating to the Heretics Society and the Cambridge Magazine. The fifth accrual (22-1993)consists of Ogden's letters to Valerie Winslow. The sixth (05-1994) accrual consists of financial ledgers concerning the sales of Basic English publications. The seventh accrual (08-1997) consists of a post card from Ivy Litvinoff and a book. These accruals have been interfiled with the first two accruals.

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Physical condition

Immediate source of acquisition

The first two accruals were acquired in 1980 and 1981 from Lawrence of Crewkerne. The third accrual was acquired from Alphabet Bookshop, Port Colborne, Ont. in January 1993. The fourth accrual was acquired at Sotheby's at auction, 19 July 1993, lots 291 and 292. The fifth accrual was acquired from Mrs. Valerie St. John via W. Terence Gordon in December 1993. The sixth accrual was acquired from John Wilson, Bookseller, Oxford, England in June 1994. The seventh accrual was acquired from Paul Hassam, London, England, in April 1997.


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No further accruals are expected.

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