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Rebecca West collection

Call Number: GEN MSS 239

Scope and Contents

The Rebecca West Collection spans the dates 1913-1984 and is organized in four series. Series I, Correspondence, consists of letters to and from Rebecca West and is alphabetically arranged by name of correspondent. Series II, Writings, is organized in three subseries: Books, Articles, and Writings of Others. Series III, Rebecca West Papers of Gordon S. Haight, is organized in three subseries: Correspondence, Writings, and Other Papers. Materials acquired since September 1996 are located in Series IV, Additions since September 1996, and are listed in accession order.

Series I, Correspondence , contains mainly letters by West herself, in some cases donated by their recipients at West's request. Correspondents include Romney Brent, Henry James Forman, A. S. Frere, Lady Elizabeth Iddesleigh, Norman Mackenzie, C. K. Ogden, and Reginald Turner. West's letters to Sara Tugander Melville describe her daily life during the period following the birth of Anthony West and her travels to Italy and America during the 1920s. West's correspondence with Gregg T. Sinclair, begun when Sinclair sent her a fan letter about The Judge, documents her interest in visiting the Sinclairs in Japan and later in America.

The two extensive correspondences in the collection are those of Emanie Sachs Arling and Doris Stevens, both of whom West met during her first American lecture tour in 1923-24. West's letters to both women contain much information about her personal life, such as her health, her travels, life at Ibstone House with Henry Andrews, and her relations with family members. West's view of the troubled relationship between her and her son Anthony is particularly well documented, including her reaction to the publication of Heritage and to Anthony's divorce from his first wife and relocation to America. In addition, the correspondence with Stevens reflects West's involvement in the controversies surrounding Joseph McCarthy and the American anti-Communist movement.

Series II, Writings , is divided into three subseries: Books, Articles, and Writings of Others. Books includes corrected galleys for The Birds Fall Down and The Thinking Reed, while Articles contains documentation of West's famous series "Behind the Witch-Hunts," including typescripts, clippings, and letters to the editor of the London Times concerning the series. Folder 172 contains clippings of articles by and about West's American lecture tour that appeared in the Japan Advertiser.

Series III, Rebecca West Papers of Gordon Haight , contains correspondence from West and Henry Andrews to Haight, who was a member of the Department of English at Yale during West's visits to the university. There are also a typescript photocopy of Haight's response to Anthony West's portrait of West in Aspects of a Life, newspaper clippings, photographs, and other memorabilia.

Series IV, Additions Since September 1996 , contains recent acquisitions arranged in accession order.

Oversize contains two items from Series II. Box 11, Restricted Fragile Papers , contains fragile originals from Series I-III.


  • 1913-[ongoing]


Conditions Governing Access

The materials are open for research.

Restricted Fragile Papers in Box 11 may only be consulted with permission of the appropriate curator. Preservation photocopies for reference use have been substituted in the main files.

Conditions Governing Use

The Rebecca West Collection is the physical property of the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University. Literary rights, including copyright, belong to the authors or their legal heirs and assigns. For further information, consult the appropriate curator.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

This listing encompasses accessions of single manuscripts and small groups of manuscripts pertaining to Rebecca West acquired by gift and purchase from various sources by the Beinecke Library from 1960 to the present. Provenance has been noted briefly on the inital folder of each accession; for further information, see the appropriate curator.

Associated Materials

For the papers donated by Rebecca West to Yale University in 1959, see GEN MSS 105, Rebecca West Papers; for related West material, see GEN MSS 240, G. Evelyn Hutchinson Papers Relating to Rebecca West.


4.75 Linear Feet ((9 boxes) + 2 cases)

Language of Materials


Catalog Record

A record for this collection is available in Orbis, the Yale University Library catalog

Persistent URL


The collection contains letters to and from West, including extensive correspondences with Emanie Sachs Arling and Doris Stevens, as well as letters from Norman Mackenzie, Sara Tugander Melville, Jonathan Mitchell, Harold F. Rubinstein, and Reginald Turner; miscellaneous writings by West; and correspondence and memorabilia of West assembled by Gordon S. Haight.

REBECCA WEST 1892-1983

Rebecca West is the pseudonym of Cicely Isabel Fairfield, British journalist and novelist. Her major works include Black Lamb and Grey Falcon (1942), a study of Yugoslavia; A Train of Powder (1955), reports on the Nuremberg Trials; and The Meaning of Treason (1949), on the trial of William Joyce, who broadcast for Nazi Germany as Lord Haw-Haw. Among her novels are The Return of the Soldier (1918), The Fountain Overflows (1957), and The Birds Fall Down (1966). She was created Dame of the British Empire in 1959.

West's decade-long relationship with H. G. Wells produced one son, Anthony Panther West, born in 1914. In 1930 West married the banker Henry Andrews, who died in 1968.

For further information consult the Dictionary of National Biography.

Processing Information

This register is updated periodically. For information on material added to the collection since the last update, please consult the Public Services Desk.

Guide to the Rebecca West Collection
Under Revision
by Diane J. Ducharme
October 1996
Description rules
Beinecke Manuscript Unit Archival Processing Manual
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Part of the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library Repository

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Opening Hours

Access Information

The Beinecke Library is open to all Yale University students and faculty, and visiting researchers whose work requires use of its special collections. You will need to bring appropriate photo ID the first time you register. Beinecke is a non-circulating, closed stack library. Paging is done by library staff during business hours. You can request collection material online at least two business days in advance of your visit, using the request links in Archives at Yale. For more information, please see Planning Your Research Visit and consult the Reading Room Policies prior to visiting the library.