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David Wilde Papers

Identifier: MSS-1077-BC

Scope and Content

David Wilde started giving his papers to CSWR in 1994 and added material regularly through 2018. He donated his photographs in 2013, which are in the David Wilde Photograph Collection. A friend brought in the rest of his material after his death. His main collection contains personal papers, family documents, correspondence, school material and information on his musical career in England. It also has papers about his later life and writings in Albuquerque. There are articles about him and several recordings of him reading from his stories and poems, and talking about Alfred Charles Slawson.

Box 1 has resumes, biographical material and articles about Wilde. Also included are his family history and accounts of life in England during World War II. Other files cover his military service, education, music programs in which he played the French horn and his teaching career.

Box 2 contains background on his startup offshore entertainment company, his visit to England in 1995, and travel brochures gathered about England, Wales and Scotland. There are letters from his Mother and others written by Wilde to his family and friends. Other folders have articles he collected about Welsh history and music, writing and business in England. His immigration and passport papers, job searches in England and other countries and teaching work in the Czech Republic are included.

Box 3 starts with his writings from 1989 to 2004. Here are some handwritten manuscript pages, drafts, revisions and reissues for Wilde’s major works: The Sun Also Sets, Desert Meditations, Black Innocence, Pink, The North Sea Saga, Teabags from England, One Day in April, Snow on the Cactus for La Puerta Freshman Reader and his Collected Short Stories. Other folders included some of his poems and edited music pieces from that time.

Box 4 continues with his work from 2004 to 2017, including Rain Poems, Reprieved, Lilac Tree II, the Maltese Clock and his last 2018 presentation at Abril para La Palabra at the UNM Spanish Department. Also included are other pieces like his Manifesto on why he chose the covered he did for his books, books by others with his poems and his Café in Space poems. Also included are his research and drafts for the Zeke Cortez book, with material on the Cortez family and Cortez’ naval career.

Box 5 has his research on A. C. Slawson and drafts of Wilde’s essays. Following are folders arranged by date from 1984-2013 with his rough diaries, calendars, notebooks and loose pages that were scattered though his collection. These have information about his travels, thoughts and friends, and have some handwritten poems.

Box 6 continues with similar materials for 2013 to 2019, followed by folders with his undated handwritten poems. Then there is a section on the David Wilde Publishing company from 1989 forward with sales, promotion efforts and correspondence with book companies. There are lists of his books and the materials he edited and published for others. Midway there is a section of stories, poems and articles collected by or donated to Wilde by others, some correspondence to him from friends and death tributes for people he knew.

Box 7 has more collected and donated materials. Next is information from Wilde’s courses taken at UNM and several of his class papers.

Box 8 continues with his activities at UNM. Other folders cover his work with the UNM English, Spanish, Portuguese and German Departments and his recommendations for a UNM Honorary Degree. He attended many campus and Albuquerque area events and collected flyers and programs about them, which are included here. There are also folders about the Aquinas Newman Center activities and campus Christian groups.

Box 9 has his computer floppies and hard drive, and miscellaneous materials.

The Oversize Folder contains mainly posters saved by Wilde from his music career in England and book readings in Albuquerque, as well as a few other items he found of interest.

Collection was previously numbered MSS 918.


  • 1900-2019


Language of Materials


Access Restrictions

Collection is open for research.

Copy Restrictions

Limited duplication of CSWR material is allowed for research purposes. User is responsible for compliance with all copyright, privacy, and libel laws. Permission is required for publication or distribution.

Biographical Information

David Wilde was a Welsh musician and writer who lived half his life in Albuquerque. He was born in 1944, in Hereford, England. His family were Welsh immigrants and part of the blue-collar working class of England. A coal miner from of the Wales Rhondda Valley, his father served in the British army in India and China in the 1930s and during World War II in France. His mother was from rural Hereford. After the war, the family moved to find work in London and later Leicester. David was one of six children. At age 15, he was a shoe design trade apprentice at the Leicester Polytechnic (1959-1960), working 46 hours a week, his father receiving his wages for his keep. As a cadet, he attended the London Military School in 1961-1964. In 1964-1965, he studied the French horn at Kneller Hall, Royal Military School of Music, continued at the Royal College of Music in 1966 and the Royal Academy of Music in 1967-1970, all in London, receiving the highest mark on the horn. He performed in the Ernest Read Music Association orchestras as well as the Royal Academy of Music Symphony Orchestra, in London. He had private music studies with Carmello Pace, in Malta and London, in 1965-1968, and made his music television debut on Malta. In 1963, he served in the military in Hong Kong and in Libya in 1965-1967. He attended Cardiff College of Music, Wales, for orchestra training in 1970-1971. He taught music at Ratcliffe College, Leicester, in 1972-1973 and at Luppingham School, Rutland, in 1974-1976. He was a member of the Loughborough University Etesian Wind Ensemble, performing with and managing their concerts in 1973-1979. He was a lecturer and instructor at Loughborough in 1976-1979, helping develop a new program, directing tutors and organizing concerts, and in 1979 he directed and managed the Loughborough International Horn Convention. He also studied at the Leicester Open University College in 1978-1979, and was a member of the Leicester Symphony Orchestra and the British Broadcasting Corporation Radio Leicester Big Band. In 1979-1980 he taught music at and received his B.A. with honors in Liberal Arts from the University of Lancaster. He was a member of the Incorporated Society of Musicians, London, in 1975-1980, and local Secretary in 1978, and in 1979 was treasurer of the Leicester Music Diary.

In the 1960s-1970s, Wilde composed several music pieces, made various recordings, and played with and conducted several bands and orchestras. He led premieres of the works of major composers and did solos for television productions. He was appointed to play with the London Irish Band Guards in 1960-1970, in 1970 with the Welsh Opera, in Wales, and in 1973 with the operas Aida and the Tales of Hoffman. He played with touring orchestras in Bonn, Cologne, Hong Kong and Malta, with the Robert Mandell English theater orchestra in 1977 and the Atlantic Winds in New York in 1978-1980. He appeared as an extra in various films in 1964-1984, including The Magic Christian, 1969, in London, with Ringo Starr and Peter Sellars. In addition, he worked as an accounting clerk at the Severn-Trent Water Company in 1972-1974 and in 1974 as a pension and insurance clerk at the Leis Department of Health and Social Security Office, in Leicester. By 1980 he was tired of music and longed for more adventures. He worked on an off shore oil rig on the North Sea in 1983-1984. In 1983 he established a company, Off Shore Entertainment, to provide health and recreation for oil rig workers.

Wilde had visited the United States and thought it would hold more freedom and opportunities for him. A friend from New Mexico told him the state was a fascinating place and by 1984 he was in Albuquerque. In 1984 he reopened the entertainment company in Albuquerque, but it never took off. He enrolled as a graduate student at UNM taking classes in architecture, business, law, math and philosophy. For a couple years he traveled and learned about America. He played in the Albuquerque civic orchestra in 1986, was a UNM tutor for athletes and the handicapped in 1986-1988, and in 1987 an Easter Seal Society Summer Camp counselor, caring for mentally handicapped children. In 1989-1990 he worked as a consultant - legal researcher for Attorney Joseph T. S. Sprague and from 1989-1991 he taught Music Appreciation for UNM Continuing Education. In 1988 a deranged roommate stole everything he had and he was a jobless, homeless, alien living in his Honda, which was towed for an expired license. He was sleeping on friends’ floors and grabbing uneaten food from café tables. He was desperate and tried writing, having never written more than a clip for a school club. In 1989 he got a line included in The Spirit That Wants Me and also wrote his first book, The Sun Also Sets, about his U.S. travels, which he later expanded. It's favorable reviews encouraged him to continue. In 1989 he established David Wilde Publishing, a self- production effort in Albuquerque, a great milestone in his life.

In the next decade and a half, Wilde produced some thirteen titles of prose and poetry. In 1992 he published his compiled Poems and Sketches of New Mexico and Desert Meditations. His Black Innocence, The Immigrant, came out in 1992, which was translated into German. In 1993 he penned The North Sea Saga, An Opera of Oil. In 1994 he compiled a book Poems, People, Places, Travels on My Own, which was expanded as The Lilac Tree in 2008. In 1994 he published his college days Basic Techniques for the French Horn and in 1995 his Malta 1967 composition Concert Pieces. In 1994 Teabags from England also came out and in 1995 Pink, The Odyssey of the Alien from Earth. In the 1990s he returned to England and Europe several times, looked for a pension, jobs and outlets for his work and gathered his family papers. In 1996 he wrote the biography of "Zeke" Cortez, which was published by Mellon Press in 2013. In 1999 he published his Collected Short Stories, 1992-1998, aka Wildland, and Snow Bow, A Children’s Story. In 2000-2001 he taught English in the Czech Republic. In 2001 he finished One Day in April, which was translated into Portuguese. In 2002 he published Tent Poems and a fiction piece The White Book of Albuquerque. In 2002 he also released Three Wilde Songs with his poems and music by Carl Donsback. In 2007 he released a compiled work called Pictures from Nowhere and Reprieved, a CD with him reciting poetry and Joe McCanna playing music. He had a heart attack in 2008 and was aided in recovery by donations from his many friends. In 2012 he published another Malta days composition, The Maltese Clock.

Wilde also edited and published several writings by others, and submitted his smaller works to other outlets. He wrote a short piece about the Aztec UFO crash for Albuquerque Health City Sun in 1994. In 1996 the National Library of Poetry published his poem that won the Editor’s Choice Award. In 1997-1999 he contributed a story to the UNM Freshman English Reader, La Puerta, and helped lead class seminars. He also worked with the German and Portuguese Departments, and was a regular at the Latin American Institute. In 1999 various professors and friends recommended him for an Honorary UNM Doctorate. In 2003 he published a poem for and in 2008 his experiences as a Hurricane Katrina volunteer for Academic Exchange Extra, an online magazine. A poem of his was in the 2008 University of Nanterre exhibit, Paris International Poetry Contest. In February 2016 his poem, The Train, appeared in the Sky Blue Press online journal, A Cafe in Space, and his poem, Duggans, in the February 2017 Café issue. In his last years, he was writing poems and a biography of the painter A.C. Slawson.

Besides writing, Wilde also participated other activities. For example, in 1984 he was an extra for Animal Behaviour filmed in the UNM Library and in 1993 was a Federal soldier in Ted Turner’s production Geronimo. He claimed he worked laying track for the Santa Fe Railroad. He played with the UNM Cricket Club in 1993-1994. By 1993 he started getting his books into the UNM Library and the Center for Southwest Research. In 1994 the CSWR received his papers, to which he added material over the years, including his photos in 2013. The CSWR recognized him as a resident New Mexico author, granted him library research access and provided him with letters of reference. He was a UNM Christian Student Center group leader in 1994-2000, sang in two choirs, one of them Welsh, organized visits to local hospitals and played his horn for several events. In 1995 he read his work at Poetry in the Park, protesting the new UNM Cornell Bookstore. He belonged to the UNM Speakers Bureau in 1997-2000. He attended the UNM Newman Center and neighboring churches, becoming a Dominican lay brother in April 2017.

Wilde was a well-known figure in the UNM campus area classrooms, libraries, coffee shops and bookstores. He did book readings and talks, and attended local cultural programs. Many people he met admired him and he them. His life was hard and writing helped him understand himself, stay living and earn a few dollars. Lively discussions with students and friends around campus calmed and fed his soul and inspired his writing. Some of them appear in his stories and poems. He was a different breed of author and an encouraging writing coach. He found the English language fabulous and felt his Welsh and Irish background and classical education prepared him to tell stories and write. He expressed many of his life experiences and thoughts in his writings, comparing himself to D. H. Lawrence, the English writer. Wilde’s work has been described as unique, existential, post-modern, beat, expansive, and a stream of consciousness style. Some people enjoyed and encouraged his work, some could not relate to it. He struggled to find a place in life and was torn between two worlds. Sometimes he loved his homeland for its scenery and culture, but hated the English for being so rigid and stuck in the past. He believed the United States would help him but hated the American treatment of immigrants and the poor, and its wars and greediness. He wrote that New Mexico was a beautiful place with sunshine, where people had a frontier attitude of getting by and an open sense of fun, and that he felt at peace here. His collection provides an interesting view of life in England as well as valuable perspectives on Albuquerque and America. David Wilde died in Albuquerque on October 8, 2019.


10 boxes (9.5 cu. ft., plus 1 oversize folder)


Contains personal papers and family history from David Wilde's life in England and others related to his life and writings in Albuquerque.

Separated Material

In most instances, slides, photographs, negatives, proofs, color xeroxed photos, b/w xeroxed photos, art work and postcards have been transferred to the David Wilde Photograph Collection. A few items remain in the manuscript folders with associated material.

Processing Information

Collection was previously numbered MSS 918.
Finding Aid of the David Wilde Papers, 1900-2019
© 2013, 2020 - 2021
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid is in English

Repository Details

Part of the UNM Center for Southwest Research & Special Collections Repository

University of New Mexico Center for Southwest Research & Special Collections
University Libraries, MSC05 3020
1 University of New Mexico
Albuquerque NM 87131