Archive Collection icon Archive Collection: Angela Thirkell Archive


Title: Angela Thirkell Archive

Level: Collection 

Classmark: BC MS 20c Thirkell

Creator(s): Thirkell, Angela Margaret

Date: 1895-2004

Main language: English

Size and medium: 30 boxes; manuscript, typescript, photographs, postcards, press cuttings, and printed material.

Persistent link: 

Collection group(s): English Literature

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(1) 12 boxes of material catalogued by David Gilson, namely, autograph manuscript notebooks containing drafts of the novels 'Love among the Ruins', 'The Old Bank House', 'Morning, afternoon and night', part of 'Jutland Cottage', part of 'The Vicar's Daughter', and 'The Fortunes of Harriette', and typescripts of 'Mamsell Fredrika' and 'The Good Little Girls'; also, some of Angela Thirkell's diaries, correspondence dated between 1899 and 1961 (with some from others after her death to her son, Lance Thirkell), some of her contributions to periodicals (also one to a BBC programme on language and pronunciation), typescripts of reviews and talks given by her, and some photographs; and
(2) 18 boxes of uncatalogued material, including, (a) Further autograph manuscript notebooks relating to her novels and other writings, namely, 'The Good Little Girls' (a playscript), 'County Chronicle', 'Jutland Cottage', 'Love at all Ages', 'Happy Returns', 'A Double Affair', 'Close Quarters', and 'The Vicar's Daughter' (including one titled Characters with an accompanying transcription). (b) Printed page proofs of 'A Double Affair', 'Close Quarters', 'Enter Sir Robert', and 'What did it Mean?'; (c) Further correspondence associated with Angela Thirkell, dated ca. 1950-1984; (d) Papers, publications, and correspondence of the Angela Thirkell Society (1981-) and its North American branch, including their 'Journal' and 'Calendars'; (e) Biographical, critical, and bibliographical works about Angela Thirkell, including Margot Strickland's biography, 'Mrs Thirkell: Portrait of a Lady Novelist', in typescript with many manuscript revisions, Jill Levin's 1986 thesis on her, Molli Uebelacker's index to Thirkell's Barsetshire novels (ca. 1954), and Valerie Ramsden's talk, 'An Introduction to Angela Thirkell' (18 November 2003); (f) 2 audio cassette recordings of some of her works; (g) A small box of photographs of Angela Thirkell at various ages, including young womanhood; (h) 1 small portrait of her as a child, painted in 1895 by P[hilip] B[urne]-J[ones], and 1 large drawing of her in middle life drawn by Walter Hobbs in 1938; (i) 1 plastic bookmark listing all 36 of her novels in chronological order from 1931 to 1961; (j) Miscellaneous material concerning other novelists associated with Angela Thirkell, notably, Anthony Trollope; (k) Several published memoirs by her son, Lance Thirkell, concerning certain periods in his own life; and (l) Miscellaneous correspondence between the Brotherton Library and donors of various parts of the archive, mostly recently in September 2004.

Includes several Christmas cards, a collection of portrait photographs, a few drawings and portraits, and two audio cassettes.

Additional material added Oct 2017: a letter to 'Alice' from John William Mackail [Angela Thirkells's father] mentioning his daughter, and praising Stanley Baldwin, the Conservative Prime Minister [letter dated 21 Dec 1936].

Additional material added Nov 2017: A collection of letters to and from Angela Thirkell containing:

- A letter from Beatrix Potter (28 July 1866 – 22 December 1943) with pen and ink drawings of Squirrel Nutkin, Twinkleberry, and Josephine rabbit [1 Jan 1903].

- A letter from Rudyard Kipling [Thirkell’s cousin] signed ‘Ruddy’ and commenting upon WWI, people he formerly knew in the Cape, and Australian literature [10 Oct 1919].

- Correspondence from the painter Lawrence Alma-Tadema (8 January 1836 – 25 June 1912) including a letter wishing Thirkell happy birthday [30 Jan 1894], a menu card with a pencil drawing on the reverse by Alma-Tadema [18 Jan 1898], and a postcard [11 Jun 1904].

- Two letters from the soprano Nellie Melba (19 May 1861 – 23 February 1931) including a letter commenting upon Thirkell’s homesickness [10 Jul 1922].

- A letter from Dante Gabriel Rossetti to ‘Georgie’ [Georgiana "Georgie" MacDonald (1840–1920), Thirkell’s grandmother], requesting she lend Rossetti her corals and mentioning ‘Lizzie’ [Elizabeth Siddal]. With an accompanying letter from Margaret Mackail to the painter Thomas Esmond Lowinsky, asking Lowinsky to value the letter and providing contextual information about its contents [11 May 1946].

- A letter from the American actor William Gillette commenting upon Sherlock Holmes [30 Oct 1901].

- A letter from the American author Henry James arranging a social engagement with Thirkell [14 May 1914].

- A letter from Edward Burne Jones, Thirkell’s grandfather, gifting Thirkell a set of volumes of Shakespeare [in pencil on the envelope is a note by Thirkell saying she left the volumes in Australia] [nd].

- Correspondence between Angela Thirkell and Coutts & co, and Barclays Bank, regarding her role as executor of her mother Margaret Mackail’s will and her father J W Mackail’s settlement, with a list of investments in stocks and shares [3 Jun 1954 – 13 Jul 1954].

- Also two letters from Denis Mackail regarding the division of their late mother’s estate [24 Jul 1954 – 26 Jul 1954], along with a typescript account by Thirkell commenting upon events following her mother’s death, and how to recover items in her brother’s possession that previously belonged to her mother.

- A pencil sketch of Darwin ‘drawn by Buff’ [17 Oct 1903].

- Manuscript verse beginning 'Up yonder on the mountain' written on Cunard White Star R.M.S. “Queen Elizabeth” headed paper [6pp].

Administrative or biographical history

Angela Margaret Thirkell (née Mackail), the novelist, was born on 30 January 1890 in Kensington, London, and died on 29 January 1961. For fuller details of her life and achievements see the Dictionary of National Biography.


Letter from John William Mackail [21 Dec 1936] purchased from Henry Bristow of Ringwood, Sept 1994.

Accessions Register no. B24729

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This collection is subject to various access conditions. Please see individual catalogue descriptions for further details on access.

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Related people and organisations

Angela Thirkell Society Angela Thirkell Society

Thirkell, Lance Thirkell, Lance

Related subjects

WARNING: many of our records have not been classified by subject. So if you search our catalogue by subject using the links below then you are unlikely to find all relevant records. But you will find some...

English fiction



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