Ruthven Todd

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Ruthven Campbell Todd (Pronounced 'riven') (14 June 1914 – 11 October 1978) was a Scottish poet, artist and novelist, best known as an editor of the works of William Blake, and as a writer of children's books. He wrote detective fiction also under the pseudonym R. T. Campbell. [1]


Born in Edinburgh, Todd was educated at Fettes College and Edinburgh School of Art. After a time in the office of his father, an architect, he worked for two years as an agricultural labourer on Mull. [2] He then started a career in copy-writing and journalism, while writing poetry and novels, living in Edinburgh, London, and later Tilty Mill near Dunmow in Essex (later rented to poet and novelist Elizabeth Smart).

He was involved with the surrealists at the time of the 1936 International Surrealist Exhibition. During the 1930s, he was friendly with Dylan Thomas, Geoffrey Grigson and Wyndham Lewis, contributing to the Lewis issue of Julian Symons's Twentieth Century Verse. [2] Lewis recruited Todd to keep the dozing Ezra Pound, whose portrait Lewis was painting. A character based on Todd was included in Symons' first detective story, The Immaterial Murder Case. Todd's two allegorical novels Over the Mountain and The Lost Traveller both feature protagonists on symbolic journeys; Todd acknowledged the influence of Lewis and Rex Warner on the latter novel. [1] Over the Mountain, a satire on fascism, has its hero travel to a dystopian nation with an oppressive government. [3] During World War II he was a conscientious objector. [2] He moved to America in 1947, where he held a position at a university in Iowa, and ran the Weekend Press during the 1950s. He contributed to children's literature, with the fifties Space Cat series. [1]

He was married to sculptor Joellen Hall Rapée (1921-2006). [4] In 1958, he settled in El Terreno, Palma de Majorca, Spain. [2] He spent the remainder of his life there until his death in 1978.


  • Poems (1938)
  • The Laughing Mulatto (1939)
  • Over the Mountain (1939)
  • Poets of Tomorrow (1939)
  • Ten Poems (1940)
  • Until Now (1942) Fortune Press, poems
  • Life of William Blake by Alexander Gilchrist (1942) editor
  • Poems for a Penny (1942)
  • The Acreage of the Heart (1943) poems
  • The Lost Traveller (1943)
  • The Planet in my Hand (1944, Grey Walls Press) poems
  • Tracks in the Snow (Grey Walls Press) (1946) criticism of William Blake, Fuseli and John Martin
  • Unholy Dying (1945) as R. T. Campbell
  • First Animal Book (1946) Thomas Bewick engravings
  • Take thee a Sharp Knife (1946) as R. T. Campbell
  • Adventure with a Goat (1946) as R. T. Campbell
  • Bodies in a Bookshop (1946) as R. T. Campbell
  • Death for Madame (1946) as R. T. Campbell
  • The Death Cup (1946) as R. T. Campbell
  • Swing Low Sweet Death (1946) as R. T. Campbell
  • William Blake: America, a prophecy (1947) editor
  • William Blake: Poems (1947) editor
  • A Century of British Painters (1947) editor, original authors Richard Redgrave and Samuel Redgrave
  • Christopher Smart: A Song to David (1947) editor
  • In Other Worlds (1951)
  • Love Poems for the New Year (1951)
  • Space Cat (1952)
  • Loser's Choice (1953) as R. T. Campbell
  • The Tropical Fish Book (1953)
  • Indian Spring (1954)
  • A Mantelpiece of Shells (1954)
  • Trucks, Tractors, and Trailers (1954)
  • Indian Pipe (1955)
  • Space Cat Visits Venus (1955)
  • Space Cat Meets Mars (1957)
  • Space Cat and the Kittens (1958)
  • Tan's Fish (1958)
  • Selected Poems of William Blake (1960) editor
  • Funeral of a Child (1962)
  • Garland for the Winter Solstice (1961) selected poems
  • The Geography of Faces (1964)
  • Blake's Dante Plates (1968) editor
  • William Blake: The Artist (1971)
  • John Berryman 1914-1972 (1972) broadsheet
  • Lament of the Cats of Rapallo (1973)
  • McGonagall Remembers Fitzrovia in the 1930s (1973)


  1. ^ a b c John Clute, "Todd, Ruthven", in The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction, edited by Clute and Peter Nicholls. London, Orbit,1994. ISBN 1-85723-124-4 (p.1299-1300).
  2. ^ a b c d David Goldie and Roderick Watson, From the Line: Scottish War Poetry 1914-1945. Glasgow; Association for Scottish Literary Studies, 2014. ISBN 1906841160 (p. 204)
  3. ^ Petra Rau, English Modernism, National Identity and the Germans: 1890 - 1950 Ashgate Publishing, Ltd., 2009. ISBN 0754656721, (p. 150).
  4. ^ Horrocks, Roger (2001) Len Lye: A Biography, Auckland University Press p250