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Gilbert Cannan papers

Call Number: GEN MSS 873

Scope and Contents

The collection primarily consists of literary manuscripts composed by the British author Gilbert Cannan prior to 1924. Included are autograph manuscripts for a few of his novels, both published and unpublished, and plays, poems, short stories, and critical essays.

Also present are sixteen folders of autograph manuscript letters and documents that William Lee Antoine, an estate owner and member of Parliament from Buckinghamshire and Bedfordshire, received from his colleagues and peers including the lords Ludlow, Preston, Sackville, and Southampton, and the Marquis of Tavistock. The letters discuss politics, elections, agriculture, local events, hunts and hounds, and a proposed monument to be erected in London to the memory of Charles James Fox. The letters are enclosed in paper folders annotated during a review of the contents made in the 1820s. The relationship of the material to Cannan, or to his papers, is unknown.

Many of the folders in the collection contain collations and other notes made by Cannan's nephew Edwin Rideout, as he reviewed the papers prior to their transfer to Bertram Rota.


  • 1777 - 1925
  • Majority of material found within 1907 - 1925


Conditions Governing Access

The materials are open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

The Gilbert Cannan 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

Purchased from Bertram Rota on the George Henry Nettleton Fund, 2002.

April 2017 acquisition: Gift of Mrs. A. E. Rideout, 2017.


Organized into three series: I. Writings, 1908-1925. II. Personal Papers, 1907-1910. III. William Lee Antoine Papers, 1777-1815.


4.6 Linear Feet (12 boxes)

Language of Materials


Catalog Record

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

Persistent URL


The collection primarily consists of writings by Gilbert Cannan, containing autograph manuscripts of his novels, plays, poetry, and short stories, with some examples of his non-fiction writing, including the manuscript of his work Samuel Butler: a Critical Study. Series I holds the literary manuscripts, while Series II holds a law examination certificate and two photographs of Black Lake Cottage, in Farnham, Surrey, where Cannan lived for a time.

Gilbert Cannan (1884-1955)

Gilbert Eric Cannan, a British author and translator, was born on June 25, 1884, in Manchester, England. He attended King's College, Cambridge, on scholarship, and afterward read for the law but decided instead on a career as a writer. During his lifetime Cannan produced more than twenty-five novels and non-fiction books and more than a dozen plays, in addition to critical reviews, poems, and translations of other authors' works. Some of his novels were based on the lives of family members and friends.

In 1909 Cannan was cited in the divorce suit between the author James M. Barrie and his wife; Gilbert Cannan and Mary Ansell Barrie were married in April 1910. The couple lived for a period of time in Hawridge Windmill, Cholesbury, Buckinghamshire, which they had converted into a residence, and which became the center of a lively literary and cultural group that included D. H. Lawrence, Lady Ottoline Morrell, Compton Mackenzie, Katherine Mansfield, Mark Gertler, and the South African painter Gwen Wilson, among others. Cannan's affair with Wilson caused the breakup of his marriage in 1918, after which time he began a descent into mental illness. He was certified insane in 1924 and became a patient in The Priory, Roehampton, London. In 1952 Cannan was moved to the Holloway Sanatorium in Surrey, and died there on June 30, 1955.

William Lee Antoine (1764-1815)

William Lee Antoine was born on February 24, 1764, the son of Sir William Lee (1726?-1778), chief justice of the King's Bench, and his wife Philadelphia Dyke, of Totteridge Park, Hertfordshire, England. As a young man, he acquired estates near Marlow, Buckinghamshire, and served as the borough's Whig representative in Parliament from 1790 to 1796. During the same time he lived primarily at Colworth House near Sharnbrook in Bedfordshire, which he had inherited from his distant cousin Richard Antoine. There he founded the Oakley Hunt with his neighbor Samuel Whitbread and served as its first master; he also represented Bedford in Parliament from 1802 to 1812. William Lee Antoine never married, and died on Sept. 11, 1815.

Custodial History

Gilbert Cannan by bequest to his sister Margaret Rideout; by bequest to her son Edwin Rideout; to Bertram Rota, 2002; to Beinecke Library, 2002.

Edwin Rideout wrote in a letter to the Beinecke Library in 2002: "When Gilbert died my mother took over his papers. I believe there was a cabin trunk full and I know she destroyed a lot of material. When mother died the papers were shipped over to me, that is, what was left of them." Regarding the William Lee Antoine papers, he described them in his inventory of the collection as "A large envelope said to contain letters written in the start of the 19th century. May be nothing to do with GC but in his papers." On the envelope itself he later wrote "Folders full of letters written about 1800 to Mr. Lee Antoine. I think he may have been a Barrister or Lawyer. I just glanced through some of them. I can't think how or why they should be with GC's papers."

Processing Information

Former call number: Uncat MSS 368

Guide to the Gilbert Cannan Papers
by Sandra Markham
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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

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