20 Facts About Edward James


Edward Frank Willis James was a British poet known for his patronage of the surrealist art movement.


Edward James had four older sisters: Audrey, Millicent, Xandra, and Silvia.


Edward James was educated at Lockers Park School, then briefly at Eton, then at Le Rosey in Switzerland, and finally at Christ Church, Oxford, where he was a contemporary of Evelyn Waugh and Harold Acton, a fellow student at Christ Church.


Edward James was left a large sum in trust when his uncle John Arthur James died in 1917.


Edward James worked with Brian Howard on the Glass Omnibus.


Edward James was asked to send a coded message to London that the Italians had laid the keels for three destroyers, but got the code wrong; the message said "300 destroyers".


Edward James had several productions created expressly for her, the most notable of which was Les Ballets 1933, which included Kurt Weill, Lotte Lenya and George Balanchine.

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Edward James divorced Losch in 1934, accusing her of adultery with Prince Serge Obolensky, an American hotel executive; her countersuit, in which she made it clear that Edward James was homosexual, failed.


Edward James is best known as a passionate supporter of Surrealism, a movement that evolved from Dada and the political uncertainty and upheaval of World War I and the following years.


Edward James sponsored Salvador Dali for the whole of 1938 and his collection of paintings and art objects subsequently came to be accepted as one of the finest collections of surrealist work in private hands.


Edward James provided practical help, supporting Dali for about two years.


Edward James later hosted Magritte for three weeks at his home on 35 Wimpole Street, London in February and March 1937, where Magritte painted a number of gouaches and oils, some of which were new, others were copies of his earlier work.


Edward James intended to install the paintings behind backless mirrors, so as to only be observable in bright light.


Magritte painted Pleasure Principle from photographs of Edward James taken by Man Ray, following Magritte's precise staging instructions.


Edward James's refurbishment of Monkton House, in a part of the West Dean Estate, was a Surrealist dream.


In 1940, Edward James stayed in Taos, New Mexico, United States, as a guest of Mabel Dodge Luhan, where he was known for his amusing, clever eccentricity and effeminate manner.


Edward James later invited the 70-year-old Brett to return to Britain and reside at West Dean, but she declined.


In 1964, Edward James gave his English estate which included West Dean House at West Dean to a charitable trust.


West Dean College is part of the Edward James Foundation set up in 1971 in response to James' vision of establishing "an educational foundation where creative talents can be discovered and developed, and where one can spread culture through the teaching of crafts and the preservation of knowledge that might otherwise be destroyed or forgotten".


An early marble portrait sculpture of Edward James exists, by the sculptor Isamu Noguchi.