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Violet Trefusis papers

Call Number: GEN MSS 427
Scope and Contents

The Violet Trefusis Papers document the life of Violet Trefusis, particularly her later life of the 1940's-1960's, and her career as a writer. The Papers consist of correspondence, writings, photographs, and a miniature portrait of Trefusis. The material spans the years 1924-1971, and has been organized into four series: Correspondence, Writings, Additional Materials, and January 2003 Acquisition. The January 2003 Acquisition has not been merged with the rest of the collection and is listed separately.

Series I, Correspondence (1939-1956) , contains letters to and from Violet Trefusis. The majority of the correspondence consists of 72 letters to John Phillips, whom Trefusis met in 1960. In them she discusses her life in Florence, Paris and Saint-Loup-de-Naud, her travels around Europe, her health, and her many friends and acquaintances. With these letters is a spiral-bound photocopy of typescripts of many of the letters, including explanatory footnotes by Phillips. The letters to Trefusis include letters from Alice Keppel, detailing Keppel's life during and after World War II, and mentioning money concerns, family matters and acquaintances. There are also several letters from Trefusis' sister, Sonia Keppel (Mrs. Ronald Cubitt), primarily discussing their mother and the sale of their mother's possessions after her death. Also included are letters from the French and British governments regarding Trefusis' return to France after the war, and her nomination to the Légion d'honneur, as well as one letter from Harold Nicolson, husband of Vita Sackville-West. Other correspondence includes letters from Alice Keppel to her husband George Keppel discussing Sonia (whom she calls "Doey") and Violet (called "Bye"), one letter from Frank Ashton-Gwatkin and one from Alice Segodnia, both to John Phillips.

Series II, Writings (1940-1956) , contains holographs and typescripts of novels, memoirs, plays, short stories and other writings by Trefusis, including several of her broadcasts for the BBC, and descriptions of people she knew, including Colette, the Sitwells, and Louise de Vilmorin.

Series III, Additional Materials (1924-1939) , contains a large photograph album with approximately 600 photographs taken in the 1920s and 1930s, primarily by Violet's father, George Keppel, at the Keppels' Villa dell'Ombrellino in Florence. The album contains photographs of many members of the aristocracy, nobility and literary elite of the day, including Lady Clementine Churchill, Antoinette, duchesse d'Harcourt, Raymond Mortimer, Winaretta, princesse de Polignac, Sir George Reresby Sitwell, and Osbert Sitwell. A list of names of individuals appearing in the album is available in the Appendix. A full listing of the contents of the album, including a description of each photograph, is included in the box with the album. Also included in this series is a miniature oval portrait of Trefusis as a child.

The January 2013 Acquisition contains letters written to Violet Trefusis, a photograph of Denys Trefusis, third party correspondence, and two lists of books kept by Violet's friend Gilone (Princesse de) Chimay during the war, with Violet's autograph notes.

Language of Materials

Chiefly in English, some materials in French.

Conditions Governing Access

The materials are open for research.

Restricted Fragile materials in box 6 and in the portfolio may only be consulted 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 Violet Trefusis Papers 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

Purchased from Maggs Brothers Ltd. and Bertram Rota Ltd. on the Edwin J. Beinecke Book Fund and Starling W. Childs Library Fund, 1994, 1996, and 2003.


Organized into four series: I. Correspondence, 1939-1971. II. Writings, 1940-1956. III. Additional Materials, 1924-1939. IV. January 2003 Acquisition, 1919-1955.

1919 - 1971
3.06 Linear Feet ((7 boxes) + 1 portfolio)
Related Names
Trefusis, Violet, 1894-1972
Language of Materials
Language of Materials
Language of Materials