Ivor Treby (1933-2012)

Ivor Charles Francis Treby was a biochemistry teacher, poet, keen traveller and a collector of sand.

Ivor Treby’s life in literature

A Westcountry native, Treby was born and raised in Plymouth. Here, his father Frederick worked as a shipwright. Later he attended Exeter College at Oxford University as a student studying biochemistry. Subsequently he based himself in London.

Treby considered himself a gay literary activist. The 1967 act only partly decriminalised homosexuality. In 1977 the police arrested him. The charge against him endangered, but did not end, his teaching career. Many of his poems have a gay theme and he was an early member of the Gay Authors’ Workshop. Over his lifetime he published over 400 poems. They appeared internationally in poetry magazines and journals. He took early retirement in the 1980s. He dedicated his time to researching two Victorian/Edwardian women poets who wrote under the pseudonym Michael Field.

Seeing the world

Treby also spent much of his retirement travelling abroad. It seems that wherever he went he collected a sample of sand or sediment. Some are from beaches where the sand occurs naturally. Other sample tubes contain gravels from locations where humans have intervened such as paths and flowerbeds. Geologist Roger Taylor analysed the contents of the sand to figure out which naturally occur in the location Treby collected them. He looked at the organics, rock and mineral content of each. His findings are shared on the object records.

Treby left his collection of sand to RAMM. In his will Treby writes that the bequest is in memory of his grandfather on this mother’s side. Charles Hayes, born in Exeter, served as a sailor in the first world war.

Find out more about Ivor Treby

Treby was meticulously organised. His personal archive of poems, postcards, letters and research is held by the Bodleian Library at the University of Oxford. Journals in this archive may well provide more insight into this curious collection

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