MS Eng 989-989.3
Somerville, E. Œ. (Edith Œnone), 1858-1949. E. Œ. Somerville collection, 1890-1946:
Houghton Library, Harvard Library, Harvard University
Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138 USA
© President and Fellows of Harvard College
Call No.: MS Eng 989-989.3
Repository: Houghton Library, Harvard Library, Harvard University
Title: E. Œ. Somerville collection
Quantity: 1 linear feet (4 volumes)
Language of materials: Collection materials are in English.
Abstract: Compositions, watercolor drawings, and letters of Irish writer and artist, Edith Anna
Gift of various donors, various dates. See items for full acquistion information.
Processed by: Bonnie B. Salt
There are no restrictions on physical access to this material.
E. Œ. Somerville Collection, 1890-1946 (MS Eng 989-989.3). Houghton Library, Harvard
Edith Anna Œnone Somerville (1858-1949) was born in Corfu but spent her childhood
at Drishane House, Castletownshend, in West Cork, Ireland. She was the daughter of
Lieutenant-Colonel Thomas Henry Somerville (1824-1898) and his wife, Adelaide Eliza
Coghill (1831-1895). Edith studied art in London, Dusseldorf, and in Paris, where
she began her career as an illustrator. When she returned home in 1886, she met her
cousin, Violet Florence Martin (1862-1915), and the two became life-long friends and began their partnership as writers.
Their first venture was An Irish cousin published in 1889. Following the success of this book, they spent 1890-1893 touring
Europe and writing travel books. Later they co-authored, under the pseudonym of Somerville
and Ross (using the names Martin Ross and E. Œ Somerville), The Real Charlotte (1894), The Irish RM stories, Some experiences of an Irish R.M., and others. The partnership ended in December of 1915 when Violet Martin unexpectedly
died of a brain tumor.
Somerville wrote on, publishing a memoir of Martin in 1917, Irish memories. She continued to publish under the joint authorship of Somerville and Martin, one
author dead and one alive. She justified this in a two-fold manner, first by claiming
that she was the amanuensis for Martin's spirit through the medium of automatic writing,
and second, that she used notes on projected works and plots taken from their former
correspondence - so the partnership continued.
Somerville most often did the illustrations for their books, but she is still better
known as a writer then an artist, though she is regarded as an illustrator and painter
of some note. In the twentieth century, Edith spent more time at oil painting, having
one-person exhibitions in London and New York She was also a suffragist and an accomplished
huntswoman became the first woman master of foxhounds in Ireland (1903-1908, 1912-1919).
Arranged in call number order.
Autograph drafts of Somerville's novels, French leave and The real Charlotte. Also with: autograph draft of an expanded version of her 1912 children's book, The story of the discontented litle elephant, expanded version titled: The story of the little elephant who wanted a long nose. This draft also includes full watercolor drawings to illustrate the book; and letters
from Somerville to Isabel Farley.
- MS Eng 989. Somerville, E. Œ. (Edith Œnone), 1858-1949. French leave : AMsS; Skibbereen, County Cork, Ireland, 1926-1927. 4 v. in 1 case.f
- Part I: 172f. (344p.) in 1 v., is the rough draft; dated 1926 Oct.
- Part II: 280f.(280p.) in 3 v., is the clean copy from which printers' copy was prepared;
dated 1927 Apr. 5.
Published as: E. Œ. Somerville & Martin Ross. French leave. London: W. Heinemann, 1928.
Immediate Source of Acquisition: *55M-86F Purchased with the Amy Lowell fund. from Maggs Brothers, Ltd., 50 Berkeley Square,
London W.1, England; received: 1955 Dec. 19. Catalogue 829, No. 659.
- MS Eng 989.1. Somerville, E. Œ. (Edith Œnone), 1858-1949. The real Charlotte : AMsS; Drishane House, Skibbereen, County Cork, Ireland, 1890 Apr. 14 - 1892 June 8. 588f. (11176p.) in 6v. in 1 case.f
Ia: First draft, chapters I-X [mislabelled XI], 1890 Apr 14, May 8, Oct. 29. f. 51
verso: sketch of "V.F.M."
Ie: First draft, chapters XLI-L (finis), 1892 Apr. 20-1892 June 8 (date finished);
copied 1893 Jan. 25. f. 68: "a prophetic sketch of the authors in 1920 - by the end
of the Welsh Aunt."
Manuscripts include possible titles: The Welsh aunt, By an Irish lake, A Dublin aborigine, Out of the north side, The revealing of Charlotte, and A romance of two vulgar women.
There are small sketches scattered throughout these volumes.
All 6 volumes are labeled with "catalogue numbers" labeled and signed by N.K. Coghill, 1945 Dec. 27, including:
- Ia: First draft, chapters I-X [mislabeld XI], 1890 Apr 14, May 8, Oct. 29.
- Ib: First draft, chapters XI-XXI, 1891 Mar. 16-June 23.
- Ic: First draft, chapters XXII-XXXIII, 1891 June 23-Sept. 1.
- Id: First draft, chapters XXXIII (con't).-XL, 1891 Sept 5-1892 Apr. 19.
- Ie: First draft, chapters XLI-L (finis), 1892 Apr. 20-1892 June 8 (date finished);
copied 1893 Jan. 25.
- II: First fair copy, chapters I-X (X is incomplete), 1890 May 8.
Includes a complete redrafting of chapters 1-10.
Published as: E. Œ. Somerville & Martin Ross. The real Charlotte. London: Ward and Downey, 1894.
Immediate Source of Acquisition: *60M-60F Gift of Dr. Fritz B. Talbot, purchased from Seven Gables Bookshop, 3 West 46th St., New York 36, NY; received:
- MS Eng 989.2. Somerville, E. Œ. (Edith Œnone), 1858-1949. 24 ALsS to Isabel Farley; Skibbereen, County Cork, Ireland, 1931-1946. 24 items in 6 folders in 1 case.f
Isabel Farley was an American friend of Somerville's who often visited Ireland. The
letters concern horses, Farley's visits to Ireland, books they have read, Somerville's
writing and artwork, sale and shows of Somerville's art, health, family, politics,
war, and other personal matters.
Date: 1931 Sept. 10. 1s. (2p.)
Date: 1932 Jan. 14. 1s. (2p.)
Date: 1936 Dec. 7. 1s. (2p.)
- (4) [
Date: 1936 Dec.]. 1s. (2p.)
Date: 1937 Sept. 23. 1s. (2p.)
Date: 1937 Oct. 11. 1s. (2p.)
Date: 1937 Nov. 3. 1s. (2p.)
Date: 1937 Dec. 5. 1s. (2p.)
Date: 1938 Jan. 18. 1s. (2p.)
Date: 1938 Jan. 31. 1s. (1p.)
Date: 1938 Feb. 14. 2s. (4p.)
Date: 1938 Feb. 28. 2s. (4p.)
Date: 1938 Apr. 5. 2s. (4p.)
Date: 1938 Oct. 24. 1s. (2p.)
Date: 1939 Jan. 4. 2s. (3p.)
Date: 1939 Jan. 30. 2s. (4p.)
Date: 1939 Sept. 26. 1s. (2p.)
Date: 1940 Feb. 8. 2s. (4p.)
Date: 1941 May 8. 2s. (4p.)
Date: 1941 May 20. 2s. (4p.)
Date: 1941 Oct. 2. 1s. (2p.)
Date: 1942 Apr. 22. 1s. (2p.)
Date: 1943 Aug. 10. 2s. (3p.)
Date: 1946 Jan. 30. 2s. (4p.)
Immediate Source of Acquisition: *62M-105 Gift of Mrs. J. W. Farley,898 South Street, Needham 92, Mass.; received: 1963 Jan. 22.
- MS Eng 989.3. Somerville, E. Œ. (Edith Œnone), 1858-1949. The story of the little elephant who wanted a long nose : AMsS (initials) and watercolor drawings; [no place, [after 1912]. 7f. (13p.) in 1v.
Children's book with text in verse form.
Subtitled on first page: "Lines written for a young gentleman and lady."
A shorter, earlier version published as: E. Œ. Somerville. The story of the discontented little elephant : told in pictures and rhyme. London: Longmans, Green & Co., 1912.
Includes 7 full-page (21 x 25 cm. each) watercolor drawings:
- The story of the little elephant who wanted a long nose [cover art].
- Mother and father elephant with crying baby elephant, Jung Boo.
- Jung Boo with stork
- Jung Boo with angry tiger, Old Stripes.
- Jung Boo riding Old Stripes.
- Old Stripes opening mouth for Jung Boo.
- Old Stripes bites off Jung Boo's nose.
Immediate Source of Acquisition: *62M-248 Gift of Dr. Fritz B. Talbot, purchased from Brigadier D.H.S. Somerville, Drishane House, Castletownshend, Ireland; received: 1963 May 6.