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Maurice Nicoll papers

Call Number: MS 1348

Scope and Contents

The Maurice Nicoll Papers serve as an interesting complement to the papers in the already sizeable P.D. Ouspensky Memorial Collection and illustrate the dissemination of the mystical teachings of Ouspensky and G. I. Gurdjieff in Britain.

Nicoll, a psychologist, had been a student of Carl Jung, and in the collection (folders 1 & 14) there are letters from Jung and his wife discussing their relationship with Nicoll. After joining an Ouspensky study group in London Nicoll became interested in the work of Gurdjieff and spent a year (circa 1922) at his institute at Fontainbleau, France. The Nicoll Papers contain two scrapbooks (f. 22 & 23) from the period; they were compiled by J. deForest Thompson who was at the institute as a young man with his mother, Mrs. Page. The scrapbooks contain interesting photographs of the institute and of Nicoll and Gurdjieff. There are also two handwritten letters addressed to Mrs. Page by Ouspensky. The papers contain a few other items specifically related to Ouspensky and Gurdjieff, including notes on Ouspensky's lectures and a photograph of him in India (folder 18) and the prospectus for Gurdjieff's Institute for the Harmonious Development of Man, notes on his lectures, and a copy of his funeral service (folder 19).

Nicoll formed his own group in London and later during World War lI, organized centers for carrying on the Teaching. A scrapbook (folder 20) contains photographs of Nicoll and his group at Tye-Ponds, 1935-40, and at Great Amwell House, 1946-53. The papers also contain a printed copy of his major work, Psychological Commentaries on the Teaching of G.I. Gurdjieff and P. D. Ouspensky.

For many years Mrs. Beryl Pogson was Nicoll's secretary, and many of these papers seem to have been kept by her or other members of the group at the Maurice Nicoll Free Library at the "Dicker". Pogson wrote a biography of Nicoll, compiled the scrapbook of photographs of the "Dicker" (folder 21), and may have been responsible for creating the three scrapbooks of artwork (folders 24-26) illustrating quotations from Gurdjieff's All and Everything. The papers also contain a few scattered items written by other members of Nicoll's group and some reference materials from the shelves of the library at the "Dicker".

The papers were received by the Yale Library in 1982, along with several hundred volumes, from Muriel Oldham. (Mrs. Oldham's husband had been a Nicoll student and had taken over the Nicoll library after Nicoll's death in 1953.) The volumes were received for the general collection in Sterling Library, but amongst them were the scrapbooks, writing, photographs; and pieces of correspondence now comprising the Maurice Nicoll Papers.


  • 1914-1996


Conditions Governing Access

The materials are open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright status for collection materials is unknown. Transmission or reproduction of materials protected by U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S.C.) beyond that allowed by fair use requires the written permission of the copyright owners. Works not in the public domain cannot be commercially exploited without permission of the copyright owners. Responsibility for any use rests exclusively with the user.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of the estate of Muriel Oldham, 1982; and Lewis Creed, 1993-1997, and 2006.


8.02 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 consist of correspondence, writings, research materials, scrapbooks and photographs documenting Maurice Nicoll's involvement with the ideas of P. D. Ouspensky and G. I. Gurdjieff. Included are manuscripts of an unpublished novel and short stories, seven scrapbooks, and a copy of Nicoll's five volume work Psychological Commentaries on the Teaching of G. I. Gurdjieff and P. D. Ouspensky. The scrapbooks contain clippings and photographs showing Gurdjieff with his group at the Prieuré Fontainbleu, as well as Nicoll's group which he formed in London. Three of the scrapbooks contain quotations from Gurdjieff's All and Everything with accompanying artwork, probably by a disciple of Nicoll's.

Biographical / Historical

Maurice Nicoll, a psychologist, received his B.A., M.B., and B.C. degrees from Cambridge. He served as a medical officer for nervous system injuries at Empire Hospital, was a lecturer in medical psychology at Birmingham University, and was a member of the editorial staff of the Journal of Neurology and Psychopathology. Nicoll was the author of Psychological Commentaries on the Teaching of G. I. Gurdjieff and P. D. Ouspensky.

Maurice Nicoll papers
Under Revision
July 2008
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Part of the Manuscripts and Archives Repository

Yale University Library
P.O. Box 208240
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Sterling Memorial Library
Room 147
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New Haven, CT 06511

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