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MS 445

Reference code

MS 445


Garnett family papers



Administrative / Biographical history

Constance Clara Black Garnett, 1861-1946, English translator of Russian literature, married to Edward William Garnett, 1868-1937, literary editor and writer. Constance and Edward were the parents of David (Bunny) Garnett, 1892-1981, bookseller, publisher, writer.



Extent & medium

5 boxes

Content description

Letters, documents, writings and photographs recording the personal and professional lives of Constance and Edward Garnett, and the early years of their son David (or 'Bunny') Garnett.

The largest number of letters are from Constance to Edward: over 400 ALS, postcards and telegrams, over half of them undated, the rest dated 1898-1922. These letters are both personal and professional in content, reflecting the pair's close partnership. Constance writes about their son David, her translation work, travels in Russia (in 1904) and in France, discusses business correspondence and occasionally, at length, their personal relationship. She mentions, among many other friends, D. H. Lawrence and Frieda von Richthofen Lawrence, John Galsworthy, Nelly Heath, Dollie Radford and Sydney Olivier. There is 1 ALS (undated) from Edward to Constance.

There are over 60 ALS from David Garnett to Edward and Constance from before 1904 to the 1920s. David writes to his father from Russia in 1904, describing the effect of the war on their lives, and at another time describes a visit with D. H. Lawrence and Frieda. There are 9 ALS from Constance to David, and a draft of a letter written by Edward to David warning him of the dangers of syphilis. There are four other letters from David, two of them to Lenotchka [Ertel?]. Also present are two incomplete mss by David, 'A Burnt Village' and 'The Last Chapter', a juvenile poem, two photographs, possibly of David, and a dance card for the Artists' Revel in 1913 possibly belonging to David, with entries for Noel [Olivier?].

The collection also contains 82 letters from Edward Garnett to John Galsworthy, dated 1902-1922, and three letters from Galsworthy to Constance and Edward, dated 1906-1909. These letters contain critiques of The Island Pharisees, The Man of Property, and the plays Strife, The Fugitive and Beyond among others, as well as reactions to Galsworthy's critiques of Edward's play The Breaking Point.

Correspondence with friends and colleagues includes 14 ALS from Constance Garnett to Nelly Heath, dated 1914-1916, and 9 undated ALS from Nelly Heath to Edward Garnett; there are 14 letters from David Garnett to Julian Bell dated 1928-1936; there are over 40 letters from correspondents represented only by one or two letters, including Tony Almgren, J. D. Beresford, Vera Figner, W. D. Howells, Ernest Rhys, Fanny Stepniak, and N. W. Tchaykovsky. Related to these are several ANS and receipts relating to the Russian Famine Relief Fund in 1912 signed by Ralph Vaughan Williams, and a small group of miscellaneous printed items and documents, including one statement of sales of Constance's translation of Turgenev in 1912.

There are also just over 150 letters from the extended Garnett and Black families to Constance and Edward; these include letters from W. H. Cowlishaw, architect of The Cearne, and from Martha Roscoe Garnett, whose letters contain reactions to Edward's criticisms of her writings. Also present, the autograph manuscript conclusion to 'Field Flowers' by Adalbert Styler, translated from the German by David Black.


Acquired by purchase.

Associated material

'Three hundred notable books added to the Library of the British Museum under the keepership of Richard Garnett 1890-1899' edited by A. W. Pollard and R. Proctor, printed by T. and A. Constable for the editors and subscribers in 1899, is shelved with the archive.
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