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Hoffman Nickerson - Hilaire Belloc collection

Collection MS-1988-008: Hoffman Nickerson - Hilaire Belloc collection


  • Creation: 1920-1942, undated

Scope and Contents

This collection consists primarily of correspondence from Hilaire Belloc to American historian Hoffman Nickerson. It also contains a few manuscripts and typescripts, at least one of which is by Belloc, as well as some of Belloc's notes. Finally, this collection contains two black and white photographs of Hilaire Belloc's boat taken on November 3, 1931. One of the photographs, taken from a distance, appears to show Belloc on the boat. This collection would be useful to a researcher examining the works of either Belloc or Nickerson as Belloc discusses problems with his own scholarship just as frequently as he advises Nickerson on his.


Language of Materials

English and French

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: Hillaire Belloc

The British writer Joseph Hilaire Peter Belloc was born in Celle Saint-Cloud, France, on 27 July 1870. In 1896 he married an American, Elodie Hogan, with whom he had five children-three sons and two daughters: Louis (1897), Eleanor (1899), Elizabeth (1900), Hilary (1902) and Peter (1904). Belloc began his literary career withVerses and Sonnets (1895). He next publishedThe Bad Child’s Book of Beasts (1896), a collection of nonsense verse that was so popular it sold out in four days. Belloc then produced a series of biographies that includedDanton (1899) andRobespiere (1901). In 1902 he publishedPath to Rome, which is perhaps his most representative work for its combination of Belloc’s love for travel, as well as his fierce Roman Catholicism. It recounts Belloc’s journey on foot from Toul, France to Rome, Italy.

In 1906 Belloc was elected to the House of Commons as the representative for South Salford, a seat that he held until 1910. He left his political career to pursue journalism, founding the political journal, New Witness, with G.K. Chesterton. His political broadsides written with Chesterton and his brother, Cecil, were popularly known as the “Chesterbellocs.” Belloc also served as editor of Land and Water, a journal devoted to the progress of the First World War, from 1914 to 1920. Elodie Belloc died in 1914, and Belloc’s eldest son, Louis, was killed in 1918 while serving in World War I. Belloc’s youngest son, Peter, a captain in the Royal Marines, would later die during World War II.

Belloc was decorated with the Grand Cross of the Order of St. Gregory the Great in 1934 by Pope Pius XI for his devotion to Catholicism as a writer. That same year, he was also awarded an honorary Master of Arts from Oxford University. Belloc published prolifically over the course of his life. He wrote 153 books of essays, fiction, history, biography, and poetry, as well as numerous articles for periodicals.

He continued to travel extensively until suffering a stroke in 1942. On 12 July 1953, Belloc accidentally fell into his fireplace while sleeping beside it. He was badly burned and died on 16 July 1953.


A.N. Wilson Hilaire Belloc: A Biography, Atheneum: New York, 1984.

Biographical Note: Hoffman Nickerson

The American historian Hoffman Nickerson (1888-1965) published primarily on military and religious history. He graduated from Harvard in 1911 with a Bachelor of Arts degree, and then two years later with a Master of Arts degree. He served in both the First and Second World Wars. His correspondence with Belloc began near the end of World War I when Nickerson wrote to Belloc to express his admiration for his work. In 1944, Nickerson married Belloc's secretary, Jane ("Bonnie") Soames, with whom he had four children. Nickerson's published works include: The Inquisition (1923); The American Rich (1930); Can We Limit War? (1933); Arms and Policy 1939-1944 (1945); and The Loss of Unity (1961).


Leo A. Codd "Hoffman Nickerson - An Appreciation," Military Affairs, Vol. 30, No.2. (Summer 1966), pp. 101-103. [Accessed online at on 24 July 2007]


1 Linear Feet (2 containers)


This collection contains correspondence from Hilaire Belloc to Hoffman Nickerson. It also contains one typescript of an article by Belloc, a typescript of an article by Jane Soames Nickerson about Belloc, and an unidentified manuscript of a fictional work. Finally, this collection contains two photographs of Belloc's boat.


Arranged into three series. Series I. Hoffman Nickerson Correspondence; Series II. Manuscripts and Typescripts; and Series III. Photographs.


Gift of William Nickerson, 1988.

Related Materials

Belloc Family Correspondence, MS.1996.028, John J. Burns Library, Boston College.

Belloc Family correspondence, MS.2007.007, John J. Burns Library, Boston College.

Belloc Family Correspondence, MS.2007.008, John J. Burns Library, Boston College.

Belloc Family Correspondence and Administrative Documents, MS.2007.009, John J. Burns Library, Boston College.

Bessie Rayner Parkes Belloc - Kelsey Family Collection, MS.1998.027, John J. Burns Library, Boston College.

Elodie (Hogan) Belloc Correspondence, MS.2007.005, John J. Burns Library, Boston College.

Hilary A. Belloc Papers, MS.1998.004, John J. Burns Library, Boston College.

Hilaire Belloc Papers, MS.2005.002, John J. Burns Library, Boston College.

Hilaire Belloc Papers, MS.2005.003, John J. Burns Library, Boston College.

Hilaire Belloc papers, MS.2007.012, John J. Burns Library, Boston College.

Herbert Family - Hilaire Belloc Correspondence, MS.1991.003, John J. Burns Library, Boston College.

Patrick Cahill Collection of Belloc and Chesterton Materials, MS.1986.138, John J. Burns Library, Boston College.

Processing Information

The fictional work, The Chalet of the Mines D'Or, could not be positively assigned authorship. It has been signed by Elizabeth Belloc; however, an earlier processor has noted that this work may have been transcribed by Elizabeth for her father, Hilaire Belloc.

Hoffman Nickerson - Hilaire Belloc Collection
1920-1942, undated
Francis Vye, S.J.; Philip Kiley, S.J.; Matthew Heitzman
2007 July
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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