Partner Cedric Morris, buried together
9 Walterton Rd, London W9 3PE, Regno Unito
2 Carlyle Square, Chelsea, London SW3 6EX, UK
The Bowgie, Trewerry Mill, St Newlyn East, Newquay TR8 5GS, UK
39 Rue Liancourt, 75014 Paris, France
32 Great Ormond St, London WC1N, Regno Unito
The Pound, Hadleigh Rd, Colchester CO7, Regno Unito
Benton End House, Benton St, Hadleigh, Ipswich IP7 5AR, Regno Unito
Hadleigh cemetery, Hadleigh, Ipswich IP7, Regno Unito
Arthur Lett-Haines (November 2, 1894 – 25 February 1978), known as Lett Haines, was a British painter and sculptor who experimented in many different media, though he generally characterised himself as "an English surrealist". He was part of a London artistic circle, which included D.H. Lawrence, the Sitwells (Edith Sitwell and Osbert Sitwell) and Wyndham Lewis. Cedric Morris and his partner, Arthur Lett-Haines, were good friends with Lady Duff Twysden, who served as the model for Lady Brett Ashley in Ernest Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises (1927). In the novel, Lady Ashley is accompanied by a group of young men, among whom are the tall, dark one, named Lett, as well as the wavy blond one, who is both unworthy and inconsequential to be given a name (a clear allusion to Morris’ distinctive golden curls). Ashley’s male companions were offensive precisely because of their homosexuality, especially to the story’s protagonist, Jake Barnes, whose own gendered and sexual identity was questionable at best. In another report, Lett is the guide to the underworld, initiating the reporter into the sultry and seedy nightclubs he and his set frequented; a portrayal not dissimilar to the one provided by Hemingway.
Arthur Lett was born in 1894, at 9 Walterton Road, Paddington, London, the son of Charles Lett and Frances Laura Esme (who afterwards married S. Sidney Haines). He was educated at St Paul's School, London.
In the First World War he served in the British Army. In 1916 Lett-Haines married Gertrude Aimee Lincoln (randdaughter of Abraham Lincoln) at Hailsham, but when he met the painter Cedric Morris in 1918, the latter moved in with them and in 1919 his wife Aimee left on her own for America. Morris and Lett-Haines lived together until his death, Haines largely subordinating his own artistic career to promote that of his partner. This relationship lasted some 60 years, despite its open nature that included attachments on both sides such as Haines' affair with the artist and author Kathleen Hale.
After initially living at Newlyn, they moved to Paris in 1920, becoming part of an expatriate artistic community that included Juan Gris, Fernand Léger, Marcel Duchamp, Man Ray, Nancy Cunard and Ernest Hemingway. They returned briefly to London in 1926, before moving in 1929 to Suffolk.
In 1937, Morris and Haines founded the East Anglian School of Painting and Drawing at Dedham. When it burned down in 1939, the school was relocated to Benton End, a large house near Hadleigh. Operating on a live-in basis that mingled artistic development with a social circle, its pupils included Lucian Freud, Bettina Shaw-Lawrence, David Kentish, Maggi Hambling, David Carr, Joan Warburton and Glyn Morgan. He exhibited at the Ipswich Art Club in 1942 Parmi Les Fleurs.
In 1946, along with Henry Collins, Cedric Morris, John Nash and Roderic Barrett, Lett Haines became one of the founders of Colchester Art Society and later the Society's President.
The school closed when Haines died in 1978, though Morris continued to live at Benton End until his death in 1984. They are buried near each other at Hadleigh Cemetery in Hadleigh.
A retrospective exhibition was held at Redfern Gallery in 1984 and a joint Morris-Haines "Teaching Art and Life" exhibition at the Norwich Castle Museum and Art Gallery in 2002–2003.
A sandstone portrait sculpture exists of Lett-Haines by John Skeaping dating from 1933. This work came about after the break-up of Skeaping's marriage to Barbara Hepworth, when Skeaping joined the artists' colony at Morris's house at Higham, Suffolk. A portrait of Lett-Haines by New Zealander artist Frances Hodgkins is held at Te Papa, Wellington, New Zealand.
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