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Boston College collection of Monk Gibbon

Collection MS-1995-008: Boston College collection of Monk Gibbon


  • Creation: 1929 - 1990
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1951 - 1975

Scope and Content Note

This collection documents the life of Irish author Monk Gibbon through correspondence and manuscripts held in the papers of two of his peers: his bibliographer Alan Denson and one of his early publishers Alan Steele. Also included are portraits of Gibbon and his family, which may have belonged to Denson.

Alan Denson's correspondence from Monk Gibbon concerns their collaboration on Letters from AE, as well as Denson's proposal to write Gibbon's bibliography. Gibbon's later letters contain substantial enclosures of copies of his work for inclusion in the bibliography. There is a single response from Denson in the correspondence, an open letter to Gibbon addressing a disagreement between the two in July 1987, just months before Gibbon' death. Denson's papers also include articles by and correspondence from other writers concerning Gibbon.

Alan Steele's correspondence and manuscripts by Monk Gibbon were all enclosed in Steele's collection of Gibbon books. The letters discuss Steele's publication of Gibbon's book (possibly Seventeen Sonnets) and also hint at a long-running literary exchange between the two.


Restrictions on access

Collection is open for research.

Restrictions on use

These materials are made available for use in research, teaching and private study, pursuant to U.S. Copyright Law. The user must assume full responsibility for any use of the materials, including but not limited to, infringement of copyright and publication rights of reproduced materials. Any materials used for academic research or otherwise should be fully credited with the source. The original authors may retain copyright to the materials.

Biographical Note: Monk Gibbon

Monk Gibbon was born in Dublin on December 15, 1896, and was educated at St. Columba's College, Rathfarnham, and Keble College, Oxford. He served in World War I from 1914 until he was invalided out in 1918. While on leave 1916, Gibbon witnessed and was greatly effected by Francis Sheehy-Skeffington's execution during the Easter Rising. After the war, he taught for twevle years at Oldfield School, Swanage, Wales, and he continued to teach in various schools until he was almost eighty. In 1928, he married an Englishwoman, Winifred Dingwall, who was also a schoolteacher; they had six children.

Gibbon was a poet and scholar, whose doctoral work focused on the writer AE (George Russell). Throughout his career, Gibbon wrote a wide variety of works. His poetry includes The Tremulous String (1926); The Branch of Hawthorn Tree (1927); For Daws to Peck at (1929); A Ballad (1930); Seventeen Sonnets (1932); and This Insubstantial Pageant (1951). He also wrote travel books; a novel, The Climate of Love (1961); a biography, Netta (1960); a critical memoir of Yeats, The Masterpiece and the Man: Yeats as I knew Him (1959); and autobiographical works, including The Seals (1935), Mount Ida (1948), and The Pupil: A Memory of Love (1981). Additionally, he edited and provided introductory essays to works, for example: The Living Torch by AE (1937), The Poems of Katharine Tynan (1963), and Letters from AE edited by Alan Denson (1961).

Gibbon was a member of the Irish Academy of Letters and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. He died in Killiney on October 29, 1987.


Hogan, Robert, ed. "[William] Monk Gibbon" in The Dictionary of Irish Literature. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1996. 477-478.

Biographical Note: Alan Steele

Born in the London borough of Walthamstow in 1905, Alan William Steele was an English book promoter, seller, and publisher. He worked as a director at William Jackson, Ltd., a London-based firm of export booksellers, in which capacity he promoted and sold overseas the works of numerous well-known authors, including works by Monk Gibbon, as well as the Furnival Books series. He also formed a private publishing company, Joiner & Steele, which published Gibbon's 1932 collection 17 Sonnets (in addition to works by Rhys Davies, James Hanley, and others). In 1935, he joined the publisher Butler and Tanner, and eventually served as chairman of that company. Steele died on 4 January 1985.


Steiner, Robert. "Alan Steele: Letters to Him" (collection abstract), Cambridge University Library. Accessed in January 2017.

"[William] Monk Gibbon (1896-1987)." Accessed in January 2017.

Bolton, James T., and Margaret H. Bolton, eds. The Letters of D. H. Lawrence, Vol. VI March 1927--November 1928. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991. p. 390.

Biographical Note: Alan Denson

Alan Denson was born in 1929 in Rochford, Essex, and was a self-published compiler, bibliographer, and editor of works about Irish artists and writers, including sculptor John Hughes, painter William John Leech, and the writer and poet George William Russell, better known as AE. He is best known for his work as the editor of Letters from AE (1961), for which Monk Gibbon wrote the introduction.


"Alan Denson in the England & Wales, Civil Registration Birth Index, 1916-2005," Accessed 12 January 2017. /> .

Denson, Alan. John Hughes, sculptor, 1865-1941: a documentary biography. Kendal Westmorland: Alan Denson, 1969.

Denson, Alan, ed. Letters from A.E. London: Abelard-Schuman, 1961.


1.5 Linear Feet (3 containers)

Language of Materials



This collection documents the life of Irish author Monk Gibbon through his correspondence and manuscripts held in the papers of two of his peers: his bibliographer Alan Denson and one of his early publishers Alan Steele. Also included are portraits of Gibbon and his family, which may have belonged to Denson.

Arrangement Note

Organized into three series. I. Alan Denson papers; II. Alan Steele papers; and III. Portraits of Gibbon and his children by Thomas Ryan. All materials are arranged chronologically within series.


Purchased as a single lot from Emerald Isle Books, Belfast, in 1994.

Separated Materials

Denson's and Steele's collections of published Monk Gibbon books have been transferred to the John J. Burns Library book collections.

Boston College collection of Monk Gibbon
1929-1990 (bulk 1951-1975)
Virginia Lipscy, 2001, and Lynn Moulton
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the John J. Burns Library Repository

John J. Burns Library
Boston College
140 Commonwealth Avenue
Chestnut Hill MA 02467 United States