The Camden Town Group in Context

ISBN 978-1-84976-385-1

John Doman Turner Letter to James Bolivar Manson 29 May 1936

John Doman Turner 'Letter to James Bolivar Manson' 29 May 1936
John Doman Turner c.1873–1938
Letter to James Bolivar Manson 29 May 1936
Tate Archive TGA 806/1/927
John Doman Turner’s artistic training was conducted by Spencer Gore from 1908 to 1913 in a series of thirty letters. The teaching was probably carried out via correspondence because Doman Turner was deaf. The letters are now held in the Gore family collection. Doman Turner was a member of the Camden Town Group, having been elected by Gore, but was shy and unsure of his abilities, which probably led him to resign his membership of the London Group soon after it was formed on 27 November 1913 (TGA 806/10/6). Shortly afterwards Gore died and Doman Turner did not maintain close ties with many of the group.
James Bolivar Manson had written an unpublished tribute following Robert Bevan’s death in 1925 (TGA 806/6/3). In this letter Doman Turner mentions Manson’s preparation of a book on Bevan but nothing was ever published. See also TGA 806/1/928, TGA 806/10/6 and TGA 806/10/6.

Helena Bonett
August 2011


[?Jane], Southwold Harbour, Suffolk, [?Wedy.]
 May 29th 1936 –
Dear Manson –
 I tried hard to come & see you before we left 63 Downton Ave. S.W.2. for months in vain. First I hope u are well. Secondly. You may recall Sickert & Rutter both saying several times in various catalogues of The Camden Town Group & elsewhere, that if gore’s letters were published they would prove of great interest to students. – Rutter mentioned it in the Sunday Times fairly recently (a few years ago.) I wrote & told him I had lost the copy I made of Gore’s original letters, & that the originals themselves were given to Mrs gore ages ago – that the copy could not be found but he took no notice – a few days I [?thought] the copy was discovered at the bottom of a drawer; so that I am now prepared to hand them to a proper editor (I could not do it.) In addition to the letters, I have always kept a number of early sketches in a portfolio, by themselves, as Gore had scribbled – faintly, in pencil, all sorts of advice, & curses, with regard to their technique. – What shall we do about this please? If placed under the sketches in an exhibition they might be of great interest to some few people?
(2) I am getting rather anxious about the three bound catalogues of the London Group, Allied Artist’s Assn & the Carfax Galleries, which you borrowed with regard to the book on Bevan you are writing, as they all contain strictly private remarks about the artist’s pictures by my ignorant self!!! – Since you took them, I have found a catalogue of the London Group – a large one illustrated = of a Memorial Exn – perhaps Bevan is mentioned in it? Would you like it when we get back?
Kindest regards in real haste. Yours sincerely
        John Doman Turner
J.B. Manson Esq.

How to cite

John Doman Turner, Letter to James Bolivar Manson, 29 May 1936, in Helena Bonett, Ysanne Holt, Jennifer Mundy (eds.), The Camden Town Group in Context, Tate Research Publication, May 2012,, accessed 24 June 2024.