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Elizabeth Hudson collection of E. Œ. Somerville and personal papers

Call Number: GEN MSS 28

Scope and Contents

The Elizabeth Hudson Collection of E. OE. Somerville consists of material related to Somerville collected by Hudson, as well as material related to Hudson's involvement in relief work during World War I and World War II. The collection contains correspondence, writings, artwork, photographs, notes, lists, financial papers, and other material. The papers have been arranged into six series: Correspondence, Writings, Artwork, Photographs, Other Materials Related to Somerville, and Papers Related to War and the Military. The papers span the years 1879-1970, with the bulk between 1916-1950.

Series I, Correspondence (1920-1970), contains letters to Hudson, letters to and from Somerville, and third-party correspondence. The letters to Elizabeth Hudson include many letters from Somerville, describing her life from the 1920s until her death in 1949. The letters discuss the efforts to publish Hudson's Somerville and Ross bibliography, the writing and publication of several of Somerville's own books, exhibitions and sales of her drawings, paintings and manuscripts, her travels to the United States and Hudson's visits to Ireland, and the impact of World War II on her life in Ireland. The letters also discuss in depth Somerville's interest in spiritualism and spirit writing, and many of the letters contain transcripts of Somerville's communications with her cousin Martin Ross and with Hudson's friend Dorothy Sturges. Also included are letters to Hudson from other members of the Somerville family, Geraldine Cummins, A. J. A. Symons of the First Editions Club, who originally planned to publish Hudson's Somerville bibliography, and from the Chiswick Press and the Sporting Gallery and Bookshop, who were also involved in the publication of the book. Other correspondence includes letters between Somerville and Maurice Baring, the Chiswick Press, Harry Worcester Smith, Dorothy Sturges, and A. J. A. Symons. Third-Party Correspondence includes letters from the Chiswick Press, A. Edward Newton and A. J. A. Symons.

Series II, Writings (1926-1939), contains drafts and proofs of Hudson's A Bibliography of the First Editions of the Works of E. OE. Somerville & Martin Ross, typescript drafts and galley proofs of Harry Worcester Smith's foreword to The Hitchcock Edition of Somerville and Ross, typescript copies of portions of Somerville's diary pertaining to Hudson, and a typescript of Somerville's play, Flurry's Wedding.

Series III, Artwork (1879-1933), contains original artwork and reproductions of drawings by Somerville, several of her watercolor paintings, a scrapbook with drawings and watercolors, and a sketchbook of early drawings from 1883. Also included is a pencil sketch by an unidentified artist and a reproduction of a drawing of Bradford Johnson, signed by Geoffrey Dodge.

Series IV, Photographs (1903-1948), consists of photographs of Somerville alone and with various friends and relatives, including her sister Hildegarde Coghill and her friend Sylvia Warren, an album containing several photographs of Somerville, as well as a photograph of Drishane House, and one of Martin Ross's family residence, Ross House.

Series V, Other Materials Related to Somerville (1927-1968), includes notes and financial papers related to Hudson's bibliography of Somerville and Ross, and notes, lists and other papers related to writings and artwork by Somerville. Also included in this series are holograph and typescript transcripts of Somerville's spiritualist communications with Dorothy Sturges, as well as Geraldine Cummins's communications with Somerville after Somerville's death. Other materials include newspaper clippings, descriptions of horses by Sylvia Warren, and a ring worn by Somerville.

Series VI, Papers Related to War and the Military (1898-1951), contains letters, photographs, clippings and other papers related to Hudson's experiences during World War I and World War II, and two early scrapbooks compiled by Hudson containing newspaper clippings and other items related to the military. The correspondence consists of letters from World War I soldiers to Hudson, many of whom she treated as a nurse, giving her news about their lives at the front and in military hospitals. Other letters to Hudson include letters from other women involved in the relief efforts, letters from Augustine Ingold, a disabled child who was living in various sanatoriums during World War I, and other letters related to Hudson's involvement in the relief efforts during both world wars. Letters from Hudson include both original and draft letters to several of the soldiers who wrote to her.

Photographs in this series include individual pictures of soldiers, children, and others. Also included are two photograph albums from World War I. One, containing photographs taken in France of soldiers, nurses, many children under the protection of the Comité franco-américain pour la protection des enfants de la frontière, buildings, and landscapes, was presumably assembled by Hudson. The second scrapbook was compiled by Hudson's friend Dorothy Sturges and contains two of Sturges's passports, a report on Le bien-être du blessé (Woman's Motor Unit), several letters to Sturges, and photographs of members of the motor unit, soldiers, military hospital wards, Paris landmarks and the destruction caused by the bombing. Other papers include invitations and programs for relief effort benefit events, typescripts of speeches about World War II, Hudson's travel permits from World War I, and printed memorabilia from World War II.


  • 1879-1970


Conditions Governing Access

The materials are open for research.

Restricted Fragile material in boxes 20-21 may be consulted only with permission of the appropriate curator. Preservation photocopies or photographic prints for reference use have been substituted in the main files.

Conditions Governing Use

The Elizabeth Hudson Collection of E. OE. Somerville and Personal Papers 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

Gift of Elizabeth Hudson, 1968.

Associated Materials

Elizabeth Hudson Papers (MS 1464). Manuscripts and Archives, Yale University Library.

Elizabeth Hudson Papers (LWL MSS 20). Lewis Walpole Library, Yale University.


10 Linear Feet (20 boxes + 2 broadside, 1 art)

Language of Materials


Catalog Record

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

Persistent URL


Collection contains correspondence, writings, drawings and paintings, and other papers documenting the life of E. Œ. Somerville, as well as materials related to Elizabeth Hudson's interest in the military and her involvement in the relief efforts of World Wars I and II. Correspondence includes letters to Hudson from the Chiswick Press, Hildegarde Coghill, Geraldine Cummins, Edith Somerville, Moira Somerville, and A. J. A. Symons concerning the Somerville family's life in Ireland, Edith Somerville's writing, and efforts by Hudson and Somerville to publish a bibliography of the works of Somerville and Ross. Other letters include correspondence between Somerville and various individuals and some third-party letters.
Writings include drafts and proofs of Hudson's Somerville and Ross bibliography, typescript copies of portions of Somerville's diary, and a typescript of Somerville's play Flurry's Wedding. Artwork contains original and reproduction drawings and paintings by Somerville. Photographs include pictures of Somerville, her sister Hildegarde Coghill and others. Other materials include notes and papers related to the bibliography and to Somerville's writing in general, as well as transcriptions of automatic writing and spiritual communications with Somerville, her cousin Martin Ross, and Hudson's friend and companion Dorothy Sturges.
Papers related to war and the military document Hudson's service in the American Red Cross Military Hospital No. 1 during World War I, and her involvement in relief efforts for France during World War II. Included are letters to Hudson from soldiers, nurses and children, photographs of Paris, military hospitals, soldiers and nurses, scrapbooks of newspaper clippings, and other papers.

E. OE. SOMERVILLE (1858-1949)

Edith Anna Oenone Somerville was born on 2 May 1858 in Corfu, Greece, where her father, a British army lieutenant colonel, was stationed. He retired to Ireland a year later, and Somerville grew up at Drishane House in County Cork. She attended Alexandra College and studied painting in London, Dusseldorf and Paris, but soon returned to Ireland.

In January of 1886, Somerville first met her younger cousin Violet Martin (almost always referred to as Martin Ross). The two began writing together, and in 1889 they published their first book, An Irish Cousin. They went on to collaborate on fourteen books, their most famous being the novel, The Real Charlotte (1894) and a collection of stories, Some Experiences of an Irish R.M. (1899). They lived together for many years at Drishane House, also traveling around Ireland and Europe. They were both accomplished horsewomen and enthusiastic fox hunters. In 1889 Martin suffered a riding accident from which she never fully recovered. She died in 1915, and while Somerville continued to write, her works did not receive the acclaim she enjoyed with her cousin.

After Martin's death, Somerville often traveled abroad. She also became interested in spiritualism and spirit writings, befriending the medium Geraldine Cummins, and frequently attempting to contact her cousin and other relatives who had passed away. Somerville died in Ireland on 3 October 1949.


Mary Elizabeth Hudson was born in Newport, Rhode Island, on April 25, 1885, the daughter of Rev. Robert Hudson and Mary Mosgrove Hudson. Raised in Syracuse, New York, where her father was rector of Trinity Church. Elizabeth Hudson attended Miss Porter's School in Farmington, Connecticut, and returned to Syracuse to work with Memorial Hospital's social services. She traveled to France during World War I to assist in the relief efforts for children left destitute by the war. While in France, she trained as a volunteer nurse, and served at the American Military Hospital No. 1 (also known as the American Ambulance Hospital) in Paris. She also served as a "marraine de guerre," a correspondent with soldiers, many of whom wrote to her even after the war. During World War II, Hudson served on the board of directors for the Coordinating Council of French Relief Societies.

Around 1925, she wrote to the Irish author Edith Somerville, and soon after, paid a visit to Somerville in Ireland. The two became friends, writing and visiting each other frequently. After the death of Hudson's good friend and companion, Dorothy Sturges (1889-1933), Somerville comforted Hudson by trying to contact Sturges using automatic writing. In the early 1930s Hudson began compiling a bibliography of first editions of books by Somerville and Ross. The project was postponed, first by the slowness of the editor who accepted the project, A. J. A. Symons, then by the outbreak of World War II, and finally by the death of Symons. A Bibliography of the First Editions of the Works of OE. Somerville and Martin Ross was eventually published in 1942 by the Sporting Gallery and Bookshop in New York. Elizabeth Hudson died in New York City on May 2, 1973.

Guide to the Elizabeth Hudson Collection of E. Œ. Somerville and Personal Papers
by Kathryn Rawdon
May 1999
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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