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G. Evelyn Hutchinson papers relating to Rebecca West

Call Number: GEN MSS 240

Scope and Contents

The G. Evelyn Hutchinson Papers Related to Rebecca West spans the years 1927-1988. The papers are organized in four series: Correspondence, Writings, Subject Files, and Clippings. Box 14 houses Oversize material.

(For the papers donated by Rebecca West to Yale University in 1959, see GEN MSS 195, Rebecca West Papers; for other Rebecca West items, see GEN MSS 239, Rebecca West Collection.)

Series I, Correspondence , is divided into five subseries: Rebecca West, Henry Andrews, Secretarial, Third-Party (Rebecca West), and Third-Party (G. Evelyn Hutchinson). The correspondence between West and Hutchinson, who had long admired West's critical writings, began in earnest in 1947 and continued until West's death in 1983. Hutchinson and his wife Margaret soon became confidantes of West's, and she wrote in much detail about all aspects of her personal life, including her marriage to Henry Andrews, her difficult relations with her son Anthony West and his family, her troubles with servants, and her friendships. Letters written in the 1950s describe her reaction to the publication of her son's novel Heritage and her efforts to block its appearance in Great Britain. She also frequently discussed her political opinions in general and the rise of Senator Joseph McCarthy in particular, noting that her anti-Communist position was often misunderstood as an endorsement of McCarthyism but maintaining that the dangers of that movement were being exaggerated for propaganda purposes.

After Hutchinson expressed his desire to compile a bibliography of her writings, West's letters frequently included current and past newspaper articles and information on her earlier works. The letters also reflect Hutchinson's promotion of West for the Terry Lectures of 1957 at Yale and his involvement in her gift of her papers to that university. West's subsequent decision to open the H. G. Wells correspondence to Gordon N. Ray, and her opinion of his H. G. Wells and Rebecca West, are also the subjects of much discussion.

The letters of West's husband Henry Andrews and of West's secretaries contain news of West during her travels or periods of illness, as well as clippings and information for the Hutchinson's bibliography.

Third-Party Correspondence (Rebecca West) contains miscellaneous letters to and from West, possibly sent to Hutchinson by her for inclusion in her collection at Yale. Third-Party Correspondence (G. Evelyn Hutchinson) holds much West-related correspondence, including letters from her authorized biographer Victoria Glendinning, the publisher Alan MacLean, Virago Press, and Diana Stainforth.

Series II, Writings , is divided into three subseries. Writings of Rebecca West includes galley proof of "Kafka and the Mystery of Bureaucracy," published in The Yale Review in 1957, a corrected typescript of late poems by West, "An Old Woman Is Told That She May Have Cancer," and a typescript of "The Second Person Singular," an unsigned typescript possibly by West. Writings of Hutchinson on Rebecca West contains drafts of his "First Encounter with Rebecca West," the introduction he prepared for a new edition of The Strange Necessity, posthumous tributes to West, and an incomplete essay on West's personality and friendships. The manuscript of Preliminary List of the Writings of Rebecca West is located with associated research material in Series III. The third subseries, Writings of Others, consists of copies of three critical works on West.

Series III, Research Files , is housed in Boxes 6-10 and consists of West-related material gathered by G. Evelyn Hutchinson in the course of his work as her bibliographer and as an executor of her literary estate. There are four subseries. The first, Bibliography, documents Hutchinson's work on A Preliminary List of the Writings of Rebecca West, 1912-1951, and includes research correspondence, drafts of the checklist, and files relating to Hutchinson's planned revision and update of the bibliography. The second subseries, Biographical Files on Rebecca West, contains information on biographies of West, particularly on Gordon N. Ray's H. G. Wells and Rebecca West; documentation of several events in West's life, including the 1957 Terry Lectures at Yale, her honorary degree from New York University, and her funeral and memorial services; and extensive "catalog notes" by Hutchinson on his correspondence with West.

Literary Estate of Rebecca West, the third subseries, includes acknowledgments of West's and Hutchinson's gifts to Yale, lists of unpublished works owned by the estate, and eight folders of notes and minutes of meetings of the literary executors from 1983 to 1985. Subjects include negotiations over the sale of the remainder of the West archive, publication strategies for the still-unpublished work, and the roles of West's authorized biographers.

"Miscellaneous and Unidentified," the fourth subseries, is chronologically arranged and located in folders 242-243.

Series IV, Newspaper and Magazine Clippings, is divided into two subseries: Articles by Rebecca West, and Articles about Rebecca West. The first subseries is further divided into "Articles", "Book Reviews", and "Other Writings." Articles in each section have been arranged alphabetically by title. Most of the pieces date from the post-World War II period, and include commentary on politics, general cultural developments, and the changing status of women in the twentieth century.

The second subseries, Articles about Rebecca West, is divided into "Profiles and Interviews", arranged chronologically; "Reviews of Books by West", arranged alphabetically by title of work; "Reviews of Books about West", arranged alphabetically by the names of the authors of those works; and "Brief Mentions", arranged chronologically.

Oversize contains oversized material from Series II and IV arranged in series order.


  • 1927-1988


Conditions Governing Access

Box 15: Restricted fragile material. Reference surrogates have been substituted in the main files. For further information consult the appropriate curator.

Conditions Governing Use

The G. Evelyn Hutchinson Papers Relating to Rebecca West are 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

Gift of Mr. and Mrs. G. Evelyn Hutchinson from 1959 to 1990.


7.25 Linear Feet (15 boxes)

Language of Materials


Catalog Record

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

Persistent URL


The papers document many aspects of Rebecca West's life, including her friendships with the Hutchinsons and others, her marriage and her relationship with her son, Anthony West. In addition to letters from West and her husband Henry Andrews, there are letters from others to Hutchinson about West, including Victoria Glendinning, Alan Maclean, Alexandra Pringle and Diana Stainforth. Writings includes photocopies of early poems by West and a corrected typescript of a group of late poems, "An Old Woman Is Told That She May Have Cancer," as well as writings by Hutchinson on West and on her works. Hutchinson's research files contain material gathered for his bibliography of West's writings, biographical information on her, and files documenting his role as an executor of her literary estate. Clippings consists of articles, book reviews, and other short pieces by and about Rebecca West.


G. Evelyn Hutchinson, a zoologist well-known for his work on the ecology of freshwater lakes, was born in Cambridge, England in 1903 and received his B.A. and M.A. from Cambridge University. In 1928 he joined the faculty of Yale University, rising to become Sterling Professor of Zoology from 1952-71, when he retired from teaching. He became a citizen of the United States in 1941.

Hutchinson, a man of wide literary interests, was introduced to the writings of Rebecca West by his wife Margaret, who admired the British feminist author greatly. Hutchinson himself was taken with her 1928 book of criticism, The Strange Necessity. As he explained in "First Encounter with Rebecca West:"

"The theme of this study is that all important art represents a journey of discovery. She held to this view as a major aspect of aesthetics and from it derived a view that the creative processes of science and art are basically similar. Although the basic idea of the book was hardly noticed by literary authorities, it was a view that instantly appealed to me."

In 1947 Hutchinson began discussing West's Black Lamb and Grey Falcon in his regular American Scientist columns, and sent West copies of these at his wife's suggestion. This led to West's first visit with the Hutchinsons and resulted in a lifelong friendship among West, Hutchinson and his wife. Hutchinson published his bibliography of West's writings, A Preliminary List of the Writings of Rebecca West, 1912-1951, in 1957 to coincide with her appearance at Yale as Terry Lecturer, and was instrumental in her gift of her papers to the university as well.

In addition to his West bibliography and many scholarly articles on aquatic ecosystems and aspects of evolution, Hutchinson's works include The Clear Mirror (1936), A treatise on Limnology (1957, 1967, 1975), The Enchanted Voyage (1962), The Ecological Theater and the Evolutionary Play (1965), and Introduction to Population Ecology (1978). He was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1949 and to the National Academy of Science in the following year. In 1971 he received the Edward Browning Achievement Award, and in 1974 the Tyler and the Cottrell Awards. G. Evelyn Hutchinson died in Cambridge, England in 1991.

Guide to the G. Evelyn Hutchinson Papers Relating to Rebecca West
Under Revision
by Diane J. Ducharme
November 1996
Description rules
Beinecke Manuscript Unit Archival Processing Manual
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

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