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MS 683

Reference code

MS 683

Title

Mary Coleridge and the Newbolt family collection

Level

Sub-fonds

Administrative / Biographical history

Mary Coleridge (1861–1907): Mary Coleridge was a novelist, poet and essayist. She was born on 23 September 1861, the elder of two daughters of Arthur Duke Coleridge and Mary Ann Jameson and was the great-great niece of Samuel Taylor Coleridge. For the most part, she was educated at home, showing skill as a linguist. She later received tutoring by her father’s friend William Johnson Cory. Cory taught Mary and a group of her friends in his home in Hampstead and would fondly call them his 'Grecian Ladies'. At the age of twenty, she began to write articles for periodicals such as ‘Monthly Packet’ and ‘Merry England’. Her first novel, ‘The Seven Sleepers of Ephesus’ was published in 1893. By this time, Mary had surrounded herself with a small circle of female friends that included Margaret Duckworth, who later married Henry Newbolt, Violet Hodgkin, Anne Thackeray Ritchie, Ella Coltman, the Sichel sisters Edith and Gertrude, Florence Coleridge and Paula Schuster. The closest members of the group, Coleridge, Coltman, the Duckworth sisters and Hodgkin, christened themselves the ‘Quintette’. The Newbolts, Mary Coleridge and Ella Coltman (the cousin of Margaret Duckworth), would regularly meet to discuss their work, and their friends would call them ‘The Settee’. Mary Coleridge’s second novel ‘The King with Two Faces’ was published in 1897 and was followed by three more novels: ‘The Fiery Dawn’ (1901), ‘The Shadow on the Wall’ (1904), and ‘The Lady on the Drawing Room Floor’ (1906). A final novel ‘Becq’ was left unfinished at her death. While she feared others reading her poetry, in case she tarnished the Coleridge name, her greatest skill was as a poet. Her first collection of poetry ‘Fancy’s Following’ was published in 1896 under the pseudonym Anodos, with a further volume ‘Fancy’s Guerdon’, published the following year. During the 1890s, she also began to teach literature at the Working Women’s College. She continued to write articles, which were published in The Guardian and by 1902, the Times Literary Supplement. She died on 25 August 1907 after suffering an attack of acute appendicitis. Henry Newbolt (1862–1938) and Margaret Newbolt (née Duckworth): Henry Newbolt, poet and writer, was born on 6 June 1862. He was educated at Clifton College and in 1881 was awarded a scholarship at Corpus Christi College, Oxford, where he took a first in classical moderations (1882) and a second in literae humaniores (1885). He practiced law for twelve years. On 15 August 1889, Newbolt married Margaret Edina Duckworth. Margaret had originally refused him, however she changed her mind once Newbolt reassured her that her cousin Ella Coltman would not be deserted and Coltman became a third member of the household and a lover of Henry Newbolt. Newbolt and Margaret had two children: Margaret Cecilia (known as Celia) (b. 1890), and Francis (b. 1893). Their daughter Celia married Ralph Furse, and their daughter Theresa Whistler would go on to edit ‘The Collected poems of Mary Coleridge’. In 1892 Henry Newbolt published his first book, ‘Taken from the Enemy’, which was followed in 1895 by ‘Mordred’, a tragedy in blank verse. During this period a number of his poems began to be published in Longman's Magazine, and the St James's Gazette. During the First World War Newbolt served at the Admiralty and the Foreign Office. After the war, Newbolt served on many commissions and committees, including the Royal Literary Fund and the Royal Society of Literature and was a trustee of the National Portrait Gallery from 1928 to 1937.

Date

1853-1987

Extent & medium

2 sub-sub-fonds: 37 boxes

Content description

The collection relates to Mary Coleridge, Margaret Duckworth and Henry Newbolt, however given the close social circles they moved in, others are also represented, most notably Violet Hodgkin, Anne Thackeray Ritchie, Ella Coltman, the Sichel sisters Edith and Gertrude, Florence Coleridge and Paula Schuster. In addition, the wider Coleridge, Duckworth and Newbolt families are also represented and the archive is not only a valuable insight into Victorian society, but particularly on the life and education of middle class women. The material includes a substantial number of autograph letters from Mary Coleridge, Margaret Duckworth, Henry Newbolt, Ella Coltman, Violet Hodgkin and other members of the circle; literary manuscripts belonging to Mary Coleridge and Henry Newbolt; and personal papers from the Coleridge, Newbolt and Duckworth families, including diaries, notebooks, sketches as well as various photographs.

Provenance

The collection was initially collected by the Newbolt family and passed down first to Margaret and Henry Newbolts’ granddaughter, Theresa Whistler, who added to the collection during her editing of ‘The Collected Poems of Mary Coleridge’, and then to her daughter Frances Whistler.

Associated material

Eton College Library also hold the papers of Anne Thackeray Ritchie [MS 430] and there is considerable crossover between the two collections. There are letters from Mary Coleridge and other members of her family in the Stone family archive at Eton College Library [MS 496]. Papers and notes on the collection, created by Theresa Whistler and Francis Whistler, are kept with the archive. It includes notes on their family connection, initial box lists of the material and Whistler’s working notes on Mary Coleridge’s poetry.

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