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Viola Meynell letters

Collection MS-1986-035: Viola Meynell letters


  • 1902, 1948-1950
  • Majority of material found within 1948-1950

Scope and Contents

The Viola Meynell Letters includes four letters to "Bartie" circa 1902 discussing family matters, signed by Viola Meynell, and a group of seven letters and postcards signed by Viola Meynell to John Gawsworth, general editor at The Poetry Review.


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 / Historical

Viola Meynell, the daughter of British Catholic authors Wilfrid and Alice Meynell, was born in 1885. The sister of six brothers and sister, Viola grew up in the literary environment of the Meynell household. Among the visitors to the Meynell home were George Meredith, Coventry Patmore, and Francis Thompson. Her upbringing was decidedly Catholic, as her parents were converts to Catholicism, and she was given a Catholic education at the Convent of Our Lady of Sion in London. More than the rest of her siblings, Viola aspired to become an author like her mother who enjoyed a considerable amount of fame for her poetry, essays, criticism, and novels.

Alice MeynellViola's first novel Martha Vine: A Love Story of Simple Life (1910) was published anonymously, but the novel received strong reviews and compliments from such writers as Wilfrid Scawen Blunt and Alfred Noyes anyway. Over the next 46 years, Viola authored numerous novels and memoirs, including a memoir of her mother, Alice Meynell (1928), and one of the friendship between "The Hound of Heaven" poet and her father, Francis Thompson and Wilfrid Meynell (1952). She served as editor for several collections of letters of various publishing figures, including Sidney Cockerel and J.M. Barrie, and edited theLove Poems of John Donne (1923), published by her brother's publishing company Nonesuch Press. She also wrote introductions for Oxford University Press editions of George Eliot's Romola (1913) and Felix Holt: The Radical (1913) and Melville's Moby Dick (1925).

Viola married in 1922, the same year her mother died. Her marriage to John Dallyn, a farmer neither literary nor Catholic, was apparently not happy. The couple had a son, Jacob, in 1923. Although in her later years Meynell struggled with a debilitating illness, she remained productive as a writer, publishing her last novel Ophelia in 1951. When she died in October 1956, she was remembered for her graciousness, sense of humor, and "the intense moral seriousness of her fiction."

Source: Raymond N. MacKenzie,Dictionary of Literary Biography, Volume 153: Late-Victorian and Edwardian British Novelists, First Series The Gale Group, 1995. pp. 204-215.


.25 Linear Feet (1 container )

Language of Materials



The letters of Viola Meynell serve as a significant sample of her letters to John Gawsworth, general editor of the Poetry Review; also included are letters by Meynell addressed to "My dear Bartie", discussing family matters and her early efforts to get her writings published.




Because the current accessioning system was not used until January 1986, it is not possible to know exactly the dates of acquisition of materials received before that time.

Related Materials

Boston College collection of Alice Meynell, MS.1986.061, John J. Burns Library, Boston College.

J. Randolph Sasnett papers, MS.1989.017, John J. Burns Library, Boston College.

Wilfrid Meynell letters, MS.1986.042, John J. Burns Library, Boston College.

Viola Meynell Letters
circa 1902, 1948-1950
Elizabeth Delaney; revisions by David Tennant, April 2006; Rachael Young
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Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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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
617-552-2465 (Fax)