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Bryher papers

Call Number: GEN MSS 97

Scope and Contents

The Bryher Papers document the life and career of the novelist Bryher. The papers span the years 1812-1981, but the bulk of the material covers the years 1911-1978.

The papers are arranged in eleven series. Series I, Correspondence, consists of letters to and from Bryher and third party correspondence. Series II, Writings, (Boxes 72-101), is divided into six sections: Autobiographies,Novels,Miscellaneous Writings,Poetry,Short Stories, and Writings of Others. The material is arranged alphabetically by title within each section. Series III, Photographs (Boxes 102-18), is arranged by subject. Series IV, Subject Files, contains 15 boxes of clippings collected by Bryher and arranged alphabetically by subject. Series V, Financial Papers (Boxes 154-67), consists of Bryher's financial records, while Series VI, Family Papers (Boxes 146-53), is composed of personal papers. "Dusty Diamonds," Series VII, contains 14 boxes of material relating to "boys' books" collected by Bryher and Norman Holmes Pearson. Series VIII, Film (Boxes 168-71), is made up of material relating to film and filmmaking. These series are followed by Oversize material, arranged in series order, and a Photographs - Supplement added in 1997. Series IX, 2002 Addition (Boxes 185-190 ) and Series X, Other Additions (Box 190) were added in 2014. Series XI, Schaffner Family Papers was added in 2023.

Series I, Correspondence , consists of 71 boxes divided into Incoming (Boxes 1-65), Outgoing (Boxes 66-69), and Third Party Correspondence (Boxes 70-71), spanning the years 1911-78. The material is arranged alphabetically by author with the exception of Outgoing Correspondence, which is arranged by recipient. Unidentified letters can be found at the end of each section.

Bryher corresponded on a daily basis with her lifelong friend and companion H.D., who first signed her letters "Horse" and later "Cat." H.D.'s letters to Bryher begin in 1918; they discuss her translation work and encourage Bryher in her writing. Letters from 1919 contain comments on Bryher's first book, Development, as well as on their friend Havelock Ellis.

H.D.'s letters from the 1920s are concerned with her writing, her meetings with authors such as May Sarton and Dorothy Richardson, with Robert McAlmon, and with "The Bunch," their circle of friends in Paris. H.D.'s letters to Bryher during the period 1927-30 discuss films she has seen and Close Up. The letters also concern their friends Marc Allégret, Brigit Patmore, and Nancy Cunard, as well as H.D.'s estranged husband, Richard Aldington. A 1930 letter mentions the film Borderline, in which she starred with Paul Robeson.

Letters from 1930-39 are concerned with H.D.'s analysis with Sigmund Freud, her writing, tarot cards and numerology, her daughter, and her 1938 divorce from Aldington. A 1939 letter mentions refugees and the beginning of World War II.

Letters from the war years are concerned with her emotional reactions to the air raids, the difficulties she faced with writing, conditions in London, and news of Perdita.

From 1947-49 H.D. wrote prolifically from a sanitarium in Küsnacht, Switzerland, discussing her books. A 1947 letter contains an outline of The Sword Went Out to Sea, while 1949 letters discuss By Avon River. Letters from 1948 discuss Ezra Pound and her appointment of Norman Holmes Pearson as her literary executor. H.D.'s letters from 1950 until her death in 1961 are concerned mainly with her life at Küsnacht, her renewed friendship with Richard Aldington, and her work.

Bryher also maintained a daily correspondence with Norman Holmes Pearson, beginning in 1949 when Pearson returned to Yale. Together they formed the Bryher Foundation Fund to provide financial assistance to writers. The 1949 correspondence concerns recipients of the award (Marianne Moore was the first) as well as Pearson's acquisition of H.D.'s and Bryher's books for Yale. Throughout the 1950s his letters to Bryher concern the acquisition of books and manuscripts of H.D., Bryher, and Robert McAlmon. His letters also contain comments on works by H.D. and Bryher, including an unpublished novel by Bryher, Iskandar.

Pearson's letters to Bryher in late 1961 contain details of H.D.'s memorial service in Pennsylvania. After H.D.'s death, Pearson's letters became more general in nature. Topics include academics, Yale University, his travels, G. A. Henty, his family, the Schaffner family, urban problems in New Haven, and his health. Pearson's letters continued until his death in 1975.

Perdita and John Schaffner's letters to Bryher can be found in Boxes 54-56. Perdita's earliest letters are dated 1924, although many of her juvenile letters are undated. A series of letters written while she was stationed in London and Paris describe her war activities. In 1946 Perdita emigrated to the United States, marrying John Schaffner in 1950. The Schaffner letters to Bryher after 1950 chronicle the births of their four children, Valentine (1951), Nicholas (1953), Elizabeth Bryher (1956), and Timothy (1960), and the family's activities until the mid-1970s.

There are four folders of letters from Lady Hannah Ellerman, Bryher's mother. The letters span the dates 1934-39, but most date from 1938 and contain news about her health, the impending war, and Bryher's brother John. Other family members who corresponded with Bryher include Gladys Todd, John Todd, and the Coltman family. There is also a folder of correspondence from Bryher's brother, John, in which he discusses his plans, including marriage, prior to his father's death. There is no correspondence from Bryher's father.

During her marriage to Robert McAlmon, 1921-27, Bryher maintained a residence in Switzerland while he remained in Paris. His letters to her discuss friends in Paris, such as Nancy Cunard and Ezra Pound, his writing, and finally, in 1927, their divorce.

Following the divorce, Bryher married writer and filmaker Kenneth Macpherson. His letters contain discussions of filmmaking projects, the construction of Kenwin, their relationship, his thoughts on analysis, and news of their dogs, monkeys, family, and friends. Many letters contain illustrations. Macpherson went to New York in 1940, and there is little correspondence between them until 1952, when he moved to Capri to stay with Norman Douglas. His letters to Bryher continued until his death in 1971. These later letters record his extensive travels with Islay de Courcy Lyons, his social life, horticulture, and his dogs. (For letters from Islay de Courcy Lyons see Boxes 34-35, folders 1222-55).

Bryher maintained lifelong correspondences with a number of literary people. The letters of Paris bookshop owner Sylvia Beach span the years 1925 through 1964. Beach's early letters to Bryher discuss the publication of West, the organization of a protest against the pirating of Joyce's Ulysses, and news of Robert McAlmon. Letters written during the 1930s detail business matters, such as French translations of Dorothy Richardson's books. Two 1940 letters describe Beach's preparations for war; the correspondence resumes in 1944, when Beach wrote about her experiences during the Occupation. Letters from the later half of the 1940s discuss the French translation of Beowulf, food parcels, and news of friends.

Despite the loss of her bookshop during the war, Beach continued to be active in the literary field until her death in 1962. During the 1950s she commented on many of Bryher's manuscripts, chronicled work on her own memoirs, detailed the assistance she provided to Joyce scholars, and discussed her participation in "The Twenties," an exhibition in Paris which consisted of material from her own archive. Her letters from 1955 describe the illness and death of her long time friend Adrienne Monnier. (For correspondence to Bryher from Adrienne Monnier see Box 39, folders 1350-53).

Norman Douglas's letters to Bryher (Box 9, folders 372-81), contain news of his travels, activities, their friends, and comments on writing and current books.

Robert Herring, an editor for The London Mercury, began writing for Close Up in 1927. His correspondence with Bryher initially described films, meeting Paul Robeson, and general gossip. After Bryher acquired the literary review Life and Letters and changed its name to Life and Letters To-day, Herring became editor with Dorothea Petrie Townshend. The correspondence during the latter part of the 1930s and through the 1940s discusses finances, the acquisition of manuscripts, book reviews, and disputes between the editors. (Townshend resigned in May 1937.) Herring also discussed the wartime situation, food, and mutual friends, such as the Sitwells and Margiad Evans. After Life and Letters To-day ceased publication, Herring continued to write to Bryher, chronicling his daily activities, travels, and health problems.

Through Herring, Bryher met Edith Sitwell in 1940. Her letters to Bryher (Boxes 58-59, folders 2127-67) comment on Bryher's books, her own writing, trips to the United States, and news of friends and family. Bryher also corresponded with Edith's brother Osbert from 1932 through 1968 (Boxes 59-60, folders 2172-2205). These letters discuss his travels, flowers, and news of Edith's health. Sacheverell Sitwell's letters to Bryher contain general and family news (Box 60, folders 2208-25).

Bryher provided assistance as well as friendship to writers such as Dorothy Richardson, Margiad Evans, and Horace Gregory. Richardson's letters (Box 53, folders 1924-29) comment on Bryher's writing, her own translation work and films, and thank Bryher for food packages. Margiad Evans (Box 10, folders 422-25) wrote to thank Bryher for financial assistance and to keep her appraised of writing progress. Many of Evans's letters are illustrated with sketches. Bryher also provided financial support for the family of writer and critic Horace Gregory (Boxes 12-13, folders 500-19), whose letters to her describe his work, that of his wife Marya, and news of his children.

Other literary figures represented in this series include Richard Aldington, Jocelyn Brooke, Romaine Brooks, Lettice Cooper, André Gide, Hermann Hesse, Ralph Hodgson, Sir Compton and Faith Mackenzie, John Masefield, Marianne Moore, Ezra Pound, Mary Renault, Rosemary Sutcliffe, and Helen Wolff.

Bryher also maintained correspondence with figures in the field of psychoanalysis and psychology. She met Havelock Ellis in 1918 and corresponded with him until 1939. Ellis's letters, signed "Chiron," discuss color theory, H.D., Freud, Dorothy Richardson, education, and Bryher's early books. Through Ellis, Bryher met Freud and in 1932 H.D. began analysis with him, funded by Bryher. Freud's letters from that year contain comments on Nazism, psychoanalysis, and thanks for her monetary gifts (Box 11, folders 449-53). Other psychoanalysts who corresponded with Bryher include her own analyst, Hanns Sachs, Walter Schmideberg, his wife Melitta Schmideberg, and Eric Heydt. A letter Heydt sent to Bryher dated Sept 9, 1963, commemorates Bryher's birthday and encloses two ancient Bactrian coins.

Bryher was first introduced to the Scilly Islands by her Queenwood friends Doris Long and Ethel Leader (the Banfield sisters) in 1911. Bryher's correspondence with Doris dates from 1934-64 (Boxes 32-34, folders 1145-1218); topics include Doris's purchase of a daffodil farm in Cornwall (with financial assistance from Bryher), the daily operations of the farm, and the activities of her daughter, Dean Lewens, and her family. Ethel Leader's letters (Box 28-29, folders 1037-68) contain mostly family news. Other Queenwood friends represented by correspondence include Dorothea Petrie Townsend Carew, Martita Hunt, Sylva Norman, Dorothy Richards, and Nellie Kirkham.

Other figures found in this series include Elizabeth Bergner, Oswell Blakeston, Mervyn, Mollie, Norah and Silvia Dobson, Dorothy Dudley, Thomas C. Lethbridge, Clifford Howard, George Plank, Brigit Patmore, and Bryher's longtime friend and companion, Elsie Volkart.

Outgoing Correspondence, housed in Boxes 66-70, consists of carbons and original letters which were probably never sent. The material is arranged alphabetically by recipient. Bryher's letters to Sylvia Beach (Box 66, folders 2482-2525) discuss publishing, (including the publication of Why Do They Like It? by Bryher's brother John Ellerman), Robert MacAlmon, Shakespeare and Co., refugees, postwar conditions in Europe, and general news.

Bryher's letters to Kenneth Macpherson (Box 69, folders 2573-93) are concerned mainly with the deteriorating scene in Europe during 1938-40. She discusses her work with refugees, her dogs, her mother's death, and her plans to leave Switzerland in 1940.

Other correspondents include Oswell Blakeston, Lettice Cooper, H.D., Doris Long, Islay de Courcy Lyons, Adrienne Monnier, Marianne Moore, Brigit Patmore, Norman Holmes Pearson, Perdita Schaffner, the Schmidebergs, Rosemary Sutcliffe, and Elsie Volkart.

Third Party Correspondence (Boxes 70-71, folders 2670-2853) is arranged alphabetically by author. Included in this section is a letter from Bryher's brother John to their mother, letters from Freud to Walter Schmideberg, correspondence to H.D. from such people as Sylvia Beach, Silvia Dobson, and Cole Henderson, and letters sent to Elsie Volkart by Norman Holmes Pearson, Osbert Sitwell, and others.

Series II, Writings , is composed of 30 boxes of writings arranged in six sections: Autobiographies (Boxes 72-77), Novels (Boxes 77-88), Miscellaneous Writings (Boxes 89-91), Poetry (Boxes 91-92), and Short Stories (Boxes 92-93). The material is arranged alphabetically by title within each section. Writings of Others (Boxes 93-101), found at the end of the series, is arranged alphabetically by author.

Autobiographies contains notes and drafts of The Heart to Artemis and The Days of Mars. The Heart to Artemis begins with Bryher's birth in 1894 and ends with her arrival in London in 1940. Notes are followed by unidentified drafts and material relating to the production of the book. The Days of Mars, (working title "Jigge of the Watch") describes Bryher's stay in London during World War II; the collection includes early and final drafts, notes, corrections, correspondence, and reviews.

Two fragments of a third volume of autobiography can be found in Box 77, folders 2991-95. Included are autobiographical notes, notes on Queenwood and Dorothy Richardson, and a series of diaries covering the years 1924-62.

The Novels section contains manuscripts for all of Bryher's historical novels. Beowulf, (Box 77, folders 2299-3014) is represented by a draft as well as material for the French edition. Papers for The Coin of Carthage,The Colors of Vaud,The Fourteenth of October,Gate to the Sea,The Player's Boy,Roman Wall,Ruan, and This January Tale include notes, research material, drafts, corrections, proofs, book jacket material, correspondence, and reviews.

The material relating to Bryher's autobiographical novel Development (Box 81, folders 3105-14) includes an original bound typescript inscribed by Clement Shorter to Lady Hannah Ellerman, and correspondence for the years 1918-52. Other novels represented include portions of South, a first draft of Take Over Bid, and notes, drafts, and galleys for Bryher's science fiction novel, Visa for Avalon.

Miscellaneous Writings contains articles, notes, and nonfiction works. Unpublished nonfiction manuscripts include "Gandara" (Box 89, folder 3292-93) and "The Swiss Robinsons" (Box 91, folders 3350-3351). There is no manuscript for A Picture Geography for Children, but there are files containing the contract, correspondence, and reviews. Other material includes an article on Mary Pickford, a memoir of Norman Douglas, and "An Impression of America I-IV," a series of articles Bryher wrote in 1920 for The London Illustrated News.

The Poetry section, arranged alphabetically by title, includes a printed version of Region of Lutany, a collection of poems by Bryher privately published in 1914 (Box 92, folders 3371-74).

Short Stories contains drafts and correspondence for seven unpublished stories, including "In the Time of Queen Hatasu," written in 1906.

The final section, Writings of Others, contains manuscripts sent to Bryher. Perdita Schaffner's writings (Boxes 99-100, folders 3596-3625) date primarily from her childhood. The section devoted to H.D. contains a French translation of "The White Rose and the Red," as well as a printed version of "Ancient Wisedom Speaks to the Mountain." Poetry by Edith Sitwell consists mostly of holographs. Included in this section is both a holograph and printed version of "La Bella Bona Roba," holographs of "A Canticle of the Rose" and "Metamorphosis," and two drafts of "The Road to Thebes." Two typescripts by Sacheverell Sitwell, 101 Poems and The Book of Roses, can be found in Box 101 folders 3668-69.

Other material includes a group of manuscripts by Sylva Norman, "Journal in Ireland," and A Ray of Darkness; two holographs by Margiad Evans, photocopies of writings by Norman Holmes Pearson, and autobiographical writings by Dorothea Petrie Townshend Carew.

Series III, Photographs (Boxes 102-08), arranged alphabetically by subject, includes photographs, albums, negatives, slides, and stereoscopic studies for the years 1894-1976.

There are two groups of photographs of Bryher, the first arranged chronologically, the second by photographer. Photographs from the years 1894-1977 (Boxes 102-03, folders 3733-75) include formal portraits of Bryher at two months and photographs of family trips during the years 1902 through 1905. Photographs taken during the years 1909-39 include snapshots of Bryher with friends and family, pictures of trips to the United States and Iceland, and photographs of Bryher at Kenwin.

Photographs taken after World War II show Bryher at Kenwin, traveling, and with friends. There are seven folders of undated photographs.

The second large group of Bryher photographs includes passport photographs, negatives, and a group of pictures arranged by photographer (Boxes 104-05, folders 3776-91), such as Islay de Courcy Lyons and Carl Van Vechten.

The section devoted to Bryher's family (Box 106-07, folders 3841-60) includes four folders relating to her father, Sir John Reeves Ellerman, three relating to her mother, Lady Hannah Ellerman, and photographs of her younger brother, the second Sir John Reeves Ellerman. This series contains eight folders dated 1913 through 1915, as well as a great many undated photographs. Other relatives represented include the Butlin, the Coltman, the Jackson, and the Todd families.

There are a few photographs of H.D. taken during the years 1900-06, but most of them date from 1916 onwards, including two albums of H.D. in California. There are no photographs of H.D. from the years 1939 through 1949. Photographs dated 1950 through 1958 show her at Kenwin or Küsnacht with Bryher, Perdita, and Valentine Schaffner.

Perdita Schaffner and her family are represented by 28 folders. One 1935-36 folder contains photographs of Perdita as a young woman at Kenwin. The rest are family snapshots and formal portraits of the Schaffner children.

Photographs of Kenneth Macpherson, (Box 113, folders 3984-92), span the years 1930-39 and include snapshots as well as a formal 1934 portrait. Two photographs of Robert McAlmon are in Box 113, folder 3979.

Childhood friends of Bryher represented in this series include Dorothea Petrie Townshend Carew, Dorothy Pilley Richards, and Doris Banfield (Long). Sylvia Beach, Mundell Doolittle, Phillip Frere, Sigmund Freud, Cole and Gerald Henderson, Robert Herring, Hermann Hesse and his family, Stephen and Margery Hicks, John Masefield, Norman Holmes Pearson, Walter and Melitta Schmideberg, and Elsie Volkart are also represented in this series.

Unidentified photographs are gathered at the end of the series.

Series IV, Subject Files (Boxes 119-33), is made up of clippings, blank postcards, and pamphlets collected by Bryher and arranged alphabetically by subject or individual. There are extensive files on archeology containing clippings on finds in the fields of English, Greek, and Roman history. Related files include articles by Dorothy Dudley and reviews of books by Thomas C. Lethbridge. The art files primarily contain museum postcards. The folders on medical subjects contain clippings about medical history, viruses, and hospitals, among others. Related files include material on John Prutting, Paul Niehans, Philip Sarasin, and psychoanalysis. There are also files on Hanns Sachs and Walter and Melitta Schmideberg. Another run of clippings pertains to Freud, including some about his arrival in London in 1938.

Also of interest are clippings on comic subjects taken from The Times during the years 1930-79, on the coronation of Elizabeth II (including instructions for dress) in 1953, on the Public Lending Right, and on the Writers Action Group.

Information on friends and relatives includes folders on the Carew family. The files related to H.D. include postcards she collected during the years 1919-49 and reviews of her books (Box 125, folders 4359-74). The folders relating to Oswell Blakeston contain catalogues of his art exhibitions and reviews of his books. There is an extensive run of material about Edith, Osbert, and Sacheverell Sitwell.

Also included are files on Sylvia Beach, Shakespeare and Company, American writers in Paris, and James Joyce. The folders on Norman Holmes Pearson contain clippings about his trip to the Arctic as well as obituaries. Other individuals represented include Richard Aldington, Kenneth Macpherson, Robert Herring, Robert MacAlmon, Dorothy Richardson, Nicholas Nadejine, Hermann Hesse, Marianne Moore, J. R. R. Tolkien, and John Masefield.

A section of alphabetically arranged files contains the obituaries of people Bryher knew or individuals who interested her (Boxes 128-29, folders 4468-87), including poets, (such as Conrad Aiken and Edmund Bludden), writers, (Vera Brittain, Natalie Barney, Aldous Huxley, and Thornton Wilder), and artists, (Constantin Brancusi, Max Ernst, and André Breton).

Series V, Financial Papers (Boxes 134-45), is arranged alphabetically by subject and contains papers relating to Bryher's personal finances, as well as papers pertaining to her business and legal affairs during the years 1928-78.

Information on the construction of Kenwin can be found in the Real Estate section. The folder labelled "Commune de la Tour Peliz" contains reports and correspondence among the Macphersons and the architect, H. Python, the builders, and the town officials of Commune de la Tour Peliz. A map shows the proposed site of Kenwin and the neighboring properties. Miscellaneous papers contain the architect's blueprints for the stairs at Kenwin. Folders of correspondence between Robert and Emile Maron (Box 144, folders 4907-09) and the Macphersons concerns the purchase of the land and disputes with neighboring property owners. Other material relating to Kenwin can be found in the section devoted to bills and receipts. The Real Estate and Bills and Receipts sections also hold material relating to the house owned by Bryher's secretary, Elsie Volkart, in Pully, Switzerland.

The Banks section contains correspondence, statements, credit, and debit advice relating to the Manufacturers Hanover Trust Company in New York, the Union de Banques Suisse in Switzerland, and Messrs. Coutts and Co. in London. Coutts and Co. handled the accounts Bryher set up for the financial maintenance of a group of elderly friends during the years 1962-78.

There is also material concerning investments, including reports, statements, and correspondence with such companies as Kenwin A.G. St. Moritz; Foreign Distributors Group, Limited; and Bryaudley Investment Company, Limited.

Correspondence between Bryher and her London-based lawyer, Philip Frere, covers the years 1946-77 (Box 143, folders 4879-95). Frere handled Audley Estates Limited, the Ellerman Memorial Fund, the difficulties over British and Swiss taxes, and Bryher's estate. Bryher's American lawyer, René Wormser, was involved with Audley Estates Limited, as well as the management of Kenneth Macpherson's trusts, a foundation Bryher set up to aid writers, and the creation of trusts to protect Bryher from Swiss and U.S. income taxes (Box 145, folders 4956-73). There is also correspondence between Bryher and her Swiss lawyers, Wilhelmine Meier and Dr. Charles Jucker.

Other material includes a section devoted to miscellaneous trusts for years 1946-65, employment records for Bryher's housekeepers and secretary at Kenwin, material relating to the book dealers, Maggs Brothers, Ltd., and correspondence and receipts for funds sent to Sylvia Beach.

Series VI, Family Papers (Boxes 146-53), consists of alphabetically arranged material relating to Bryher, the Ellerman family, H.D., and others for the years 1848-1946.

The section devoted to Bryher (Boxes 147-51, folders 5018-5103) contains personal papers such as diaries, vital records, and juvenile works. The diaries cover the years 1934-75 and contain one- or two-line daily entries. Juvenile works span the years 1901-09. Documents include a copy of Bryher's birth certificate, 1940 immigration papers, a copy of her marriage certificate to Kenneth Macpherson (as well as a copy of the 1947 divorce decree), and passports spanning 1915-63.

The papers related to Bryher's father, Sir John Reeves Ellerman, include two diaries, dated 1882 and 1885, sketches, and a declaration of marriage dated 1909. Biographical clippings concerning Bryher's brother, Sir John Reeves Ellerman, span the years 1933-73, beginning with his inheritance of the title and ending with his death. Other material relating to the Ellermans includes genealogical information, the family Bible, and Lady Ellerman's description of the 1937 coronation of George VI.

The section on H.D. consists of obituaries and papers relating to her death and estate. One folder contains 1938 astrological notes. The Perdita Schaffner material includes vital records and a copy of her engagement notice. The Norman Holmes Pearson folders consist mostly of scripts for Yale reports and material used for his Japanese seminars.

The largest section in this series, Artwork, Box 146, folders 4974-5009, contains drawings and sketches sent to Bryher by her friends, including drawings by Max Barsis, Margiad Evans, Thomas C. Lethbridge, Kenneth Macpherson, and Sulamith Wülfing, a watercolor by Hermann Hesse, and collages and silhouettes by Lotte Reininger.

Series VII, " Dusty Diamonds" (Boxes 154-69), arranged alphabetically by subject, concerns nineteenth-century "boys' books" and an exhibition held at the Grolier Club in New York City in 1965.

Bryher's lifelong interest in "boys' books," particularly G. A. Henty, began in 1902 when she first read his works. The series contains material collected both by Bryher and by Norman Holmes Pearson and includes research files, correspondence, and holograph manuscripts.

The Bibliographies section (Box 154, folders 5176-99) contains bibliographies on such authors as Henty, Robert M. Ballantyne, William Gordon Stables, and Mayne Reid. Catalogues (Box 154-55, folders 5200-08) is devoted to Ballantyne and includes a photocopy of The Quayle Collection of the Works of R. M. Ballantyne, annotated by Norman Holmes Pearson.

Correspondence in " Dusty Diamonds" (Box 155, folders 5209-39) includes letters collected by Bryher and Pearson, many accompanied by transcripts prepared by him. The Ballantyne material includes an 1862 letter to "Teenie" Ballantyne describing a lecture and illness and an 1893 letter to T. Nelson & Sons containing complaints about the underpricing of his books and a comparative statement of his book sales during 1890-92.

There are eleven folders of letters written by Henty, mostly to his fans or relatives. (Some folders contain only the Pearson transcripts.) A January 17, 1870 letter to W. A. Tinsley comments on "King William." A photocopy of an 1885 letter to Lord Wolesley states Henty's opinion of the selection of army officers.

An 1870 letter from George Manville Fenn to S. W. Partridge and Company outlines a story set in Siam, and an 1883 letter from T. Mayne Reid to William W. Burnham describes Rifle Rangers as a record of Reid's adventures during the Mexican War.

Three folders of chronologically arranged letters concern research on "boys' books" by Norman Holmes Pearson and the purchase of books by Bryher and Pearson.

Drawings (Box 155-56, folders 5240-50) holds annotated sketches by an unidentified artist for books by Ballantyne, including Red Rooney, three matted pen and ink sketches by Gordon Browns, and a pen and pencil drawing by John Hassall for Dragon of Pekin, plus photographs of watercolors executed by Ballantyne.

Related Papers (Box 156, folders 5251-85) include papers on Henty and his family, biographical material, and his will. The "Dusty Diamonds" exhibition folders contain copies of the announcement of the exhibition, photocopies of notes, and photographs. Another folder of notes contains an explanation of the metaphor "Dusty Diamonds": "like a miner the researcher pulls out a dusty diamond from the black muck, occasionally pulling out zircon because the mother lode produces veins more productive than others."

Research files compiled by Norman Holmes Pearson and Pete Martin are also found in the series. These consist primarily of photocopies of articles, photocopies of George and Elizabeth Henty's wills, and files relating to Ballantyne, William Gordon Stables, Frederick Marryat, and others. Pearson's correspondence for the years 1962-74 concerns research on "boys' books" and information on the purchase of books.

The Writings section (Boxes 157-67, folders 5322-5608) consists primarily of original Ballantyne, Henty, and T. Mayne Reid manuscripts, plus three critical articles on Henty and one on William Gordon Stables. Ballantyne is represented by manuscripts for approximately sixty books, articles, and short stories. Books include corrected manuscripts of The Battery and the Boiler, The Fugitives or the Tyrant Queen of Madagascar, Hudson's Bay, The Pirate City, Red Rooney or the Last of the Crew, and Snowflakes and Sunbeams or the Young Fur Traders. Articles on smoking, the Polar regions, the Gulf Stream, and an 1876 Sunday school address are also included.

Henty is represented by several short stories, such as "A Bad Man's Gratitude," "The Leda," and "A Misunderstanding." There is also an untitled holograph poem by him and four Classics Illustrated comic books based on his books, including The Lion of the North. A holograph manuscript by T. Mayne Reid, Afloat in the Forest, is located in Box 167, folders 5595-5606.

Series VIII, Film (Boxes 168-71, folders 5609-72), consists of correspondence, financial papers, photographs, and printed material relating to film making during the period 1925-36. The section devoted to Close Up contains the October 1927 and May 1928 issues and woodblocks by H.D. and Kenneth Macpherson as they appeared in Borderline. A folder of notes contains the names of those who received the first issue, names of subscribers, and subscription prices for the first six issues.

In 1927 Bryher and Macpherson formed POOL Productions. The company made two films, Wingbeat and Foothills, both starring H.D. The folder pertaining to Wingbeat contains a photograph of H.D. as she appeared in the film. The material relating to Foothills consists of three photographs and a two-page synopsis of the film.

The section devoted to Borderline includes photographs and negatives, a review, programs in English and German, and publicity material for "Studio Cinaes." Other material relating to Borderline can be found in a scrapbook (Box 178, folders 5747-49), probably compiled by Bryher, which contains reviews, fan letters to H.D., and notes in her hand.

The Bills and Receipts section, arranged alphabetically by vendor, partially chronicles the expenditures of POOL Productions, including the purchase of film and electrical supplies. Another folder of invoices relates to Shakespeare and Company for the years 1927-29, recording the numbers of copies of Close Up sent to the Paris bookshop.

The Correspondence section relates to Close Up and Borderline and is arranged alphabetically by author, covering the years 1928-1974. Correspondents include Marc Allégret, Langston Hughes, Essie Robeson, Gertrude Stein, and Virginia Woolf. Two letters from the U.S.S.R. Society of Cultural Relations with Foreign Countries discuss the exchange of periodicals. Correspondence for the period 1956-57 concerns the shipment of the printing blocks used for the illustrations in Close Up to the George Eastman House in Rochester, New York, and the reprinting of Close Up. A November 6, 1968 letter from Bryher to "Professor Cripps" states that she burned all the material relevant to Borderline when Switzerland was threatened by German invasion in 1940.

There is also a section devoted to Bryher's friend Elizabeth Bergner, with five folders of photographs from Bergner's films, including Ariane, Der traumende Mund, Doña Juanna, and Geiger von Florenz. A scrapbook, titled "Die Bergner," also contains photographs. Printed material consists mostly of reviews of Bergner's stage work, including Escape Me Never, which was later made into a film. Other actresses represented in this series are Rosalind Fuller and Maritita Hunt.

The section devoted to printed material contains an extensive run of the German film magazine Illustrierter Film-Kurier for the years 1927-31. Also found in this section are programs for the Film Society in London for the period 1925-36, and undated programs for The Museum of Modern Art Film Library.

Other material includes "Kitsch," an article by Hanns Sachs. Another scrapbook (Box 178, folder 5750) contains clippings on Close Up, reviews of Film Problems of Soviet Russia by Bryher, and articles on film in general.

Oversize material, found at the end of the collection (Boxes 168-71), is arranged in series order. A printed version of Bryher's "An Impression of America I-IV" can be found here, as well as her 1940 immigration papers, scrapbooks, slides, and the banner of Henty's yacht, "The Egret."

Photographs - Supplement, contains materials added to the archive in 1997.

Series IX, 2002 Addition, is organized into two subseries: Correspondence, arranged alphabetically, and Other Papers. Series X, Other Additions, contains additional correspondence. Series XI, Schaffner Family Papers, contains additional correspondence, writings, and other papers.


  • 1812 - 1980
  • Majority of material found within 1911 - 1978


Conditions Governing Access

The materials are open for research.

Boxes 179-181: Restricted fragile material. Reference surrogates have been substituted in the main files. For further information consult the appropriate curator.

Conditions Governing Use

The Bryher 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

The papers came to the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library in 1975 as part of the bequest of Norman Holmes Pearson. Additional material was donated in 1986 by Bryher's daughter, Perdita Schaffner.

2002 Addition: gift of Val Schaffner, 2002.

Other Additions: Acquired in 1971 and 2004. For more information, see the file notes.

2023 Addtion: Gift of the Schaffner Family Foundation, 2023.


Organized into eleven series: I. Correspondence, 1911-1978. II. Writings, 1909-1973. III. Photographs, 1874-1976. IV. Subject Files, 1917-1978. V. Financial Papers, 1925-1980. VI. Family Papers, 1812-1976. VII. Dusty Diamonds, 1839-1971. VIII. Film, 1925-1974. IX. 2002 Addition, 1928-1980. X. Other Additions, 1977, undated. XI. Schaffner Family Papers, 1927-1981.


80.97 Linear Feet (206 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 the personal life and literary career of Bryher. Her extensive correspondence includes letters from H. D., Robert MacAlmon, Kenneth MacPherson, Norman Holmes Pearson, Sylvia Beach, Norman Douglas, Horace Gregory, Islay Lyons, and Edith Sitwell, and from many other
figures in the fields of literature, psychoanalysis, and film. There are manuscripts of many of her works, including fragments of an unpublished volume of autobiography; financial and personal papers; material collected by Bryher on "boys' books" authors such as R. M. Ballantyne and G. A. Henty; and documentation of Bryher's interest in film and the making of Borderline (1930).

BRYHER (1894-1983)

Annie Winifred Ellerman was born on September 2, 1894, in Margate, Kent, the daughter of industrialist and financier Sir John Reeves Ellerman, Bart., and Hannah Glover Ellerman. The family remained in England until 1900, then went abroad, spending winters in France, Egypt, Italy, and North Africa, and summers in Switzerland. The Ellermans returned to England in 1909, where Bryher's brother John was born.

From 1910-12 Bryher was educated at the Queenwood School, Eastbourne, spending many of her holidays in the Scilly Islands. (She later adopted the name Bryher from a favorite Scillonian island.) Upon leaving Queenwood, she took up the formal study of archaeology, but the outbreak of World War I forced her to give it up. During 1917-18 she worked on reviews and articles for the Saturday Review and The Sphere, and published a critical appreciation of Amy Lowell. In July 1918 she met the Imagist poet, H.D., who was to become a lifelong friend and companion. In 1919 Bryher published her first novel, Development. In the same year she made her first trip to the United States with H.D. During this trip, she married the American writer Robert McAlmon and they settled in Montreux, Switzerland.

Bryher continued to travel and to write during the 1920s, publishing two more novels, Arrow Music (1922) and Two Selves (1923), as well as A Picture Geography for Children (1925), and West (1924), which was based on material gathered during her trip to America in 1919. In 1927 she and McAlmon were divorced and she married Kenneth Macpherson. It was during this time that she formally adopted Perdita, H.D. and Richard Aldington's daughter, and legally changed her name to Mrs. Winifred Bryher. Bryher also underwent analysis with Dr. Hanns Sachs, and maintained an interest in the subject for the remainder of her life.

During 1927 Macpherson made two films, Wingbeat and Foothills, starring H.D. Bryher, recognizing their common interest in film, established Close Up, the first magazine devoted to film, and Pool Productions, a film company. Close Up flourished until 1933, when the era of silent films ended. In 1929 Bryher published Film Problems of Soviet Russia, a well-received study of Soviet film making. In the fall of 1929 Pool Productions began the film Borderline, which starred, among others, H.D. and Bryher. The film was finished in 1930 and received mixed reviews.

In 1930 she decided to establish a permanent residence in Vaud, Switzerland. Kenwin, (a combination of the names Kenneth and Winifred) was built during the years 1930-31. In 1930 Bryher published, with Trude Weiss, The Lighthearted Student, a German textbook. In 1935 she bought the literary review Life and Letters, changing the name to Life and Letters To-day. The disintegrating political scene in Europe, however, soon turned her attention to the refugee problem. During the latter part of the 1930s, she gave shelter and financial assistance to over one hundred refugees at Kenwin.

Bryher was forced to leave Kenwin and return to London in 1940, where she joined H.D. and Perdita. Despite the difficulties caused by the war, she continued Life and Letters To-day and published Paris 1900 (1940), a reminiscence of early twentieth-century Paris. She recorded her experiences with the London middle class during the air raids in her novel Beowulf (1946), which first appeared in France after the war. During the war, she renewed her friendship with Yale professor Norman Holmes Pearson, whom she had met in the United States in the early 1930s. Pearson was to become her literary executor and was instrumental in the acquisition of Bryher's and H.D.'s papers by Yale. In 1946, Bryher returned to Switzerland with H.D. In 1948, she and Kenneth Macpherson were divorced and she legally adopted the name Bryher, dropping her first name.

Bryher remained in Switzerland for the remainder of her life. Her first historical novel, The Fourteenth of October was published in 1952. This was followed by The Player's Boy (1953), Roman Wall (1954), Gate to the Sea (1958), Ruan (1960), Coin of Carthage (1963), and The Colors of Vaud (1969). In addition to seven historical novels, she published a science fiction novel, Visa for Avalon (1965) and two autobiographies, The Heart to Artemis (1962) and The Days of Mars (1972), detailing her life until the end of World War II.

Bryher continued to travel throughout her life, returning to England often, visiting Perdita in the United States, and making a trip to Greenland in 1961. She maintained her interest in archaeology, helped to fund archeological projects in England, anonymously provided pensions for a number of elderly people, continued to promote young writers, and took an active interest in her own financial affairs. Bryher died at Kenwin on January 28, 1983.

Processing Information

Collections are processed to a variety of levels, depending on the work necessary to make them usable, their perceived research value, the availability of staff, competing priorities, and whether or not further accruals are expected. The library attempts to provide a basic level of preservation and access for all collections, and does more extensive processing of higher priority collections as time and resources permit.

The 2002 Addition, formerly Uncat MSS 371, and Other Additions, formerly Uncat MS Vault File, were added in 2014 June. These materials received a baseline level of processing, including rehousing and minimal organization. Most folder titles were based on information provided by donors, while some were assigned by Library staff. Folder titles were not verified against contents.

Additional materials from Uncat MS Vault File were added in February 2022.

Multiple volumes formerly classed as GEN MSS 35-44 were added in June 2022.

Guide to the Bryher Papers
Under Revision
by Tina Evans
June 1989
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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