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Boston College collection of Alice Meynell

Collection MS-1986-061: Boston College collection of Alice Meynell


  • 1875-1938, undated

Scope and Contents

The collection consists of correspondence; writings by Meynell; illustrations for Meynell’s Preludes by her sister, Elizabeth Butler (Elizabeth Southerden Thompson); portraits; an illuminated manuscript of The Poems of Alice Meynell; and a scrapbook of articles, reviews, and correspondence.

Correspondence consists primarily of letters from Meynell, although letters written by members of her family are also included. Of particular note are letters written to publisher John Lane, as well as correspondence by various Meynell family members to Meynell's daughter, Madeline, whom the family calling “Dimpling.”

Writings by Meynell include both proofs of her poetry and essay collections, as well as manuscript copies of her poetry.

The illuminated manuscript was a memorial gift to Wilfrid Meynell from Dorothy Maclean Rawcliffe in 1924 and includes a letter from her to Wilfrid. The manuscript was designed, scribed, and illuminated by Alberto Sangorski.

The scrapbook, which was possibly created by a family member, contains articles, reviews, and other writings, both by and about Meynell, as well as correspondence written to her from family and friends. Additionally, it contains obituaries for Meynell.


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

Alice Meynell was born in England on October 11, 1847 to Thomas James and Christiana Weller Thompson. Her mother was introduced to her father by his friend, author Charles Dickens. Alice and her sister Elizabeth received their education from their father and were brought up primarily in the English countryside and Italy. Alice was encouraged to write poetry by Alfred, Lord Tennyson, to whom she was introduced by family friend Aubrey de Vere. Alice became a poet, and Elizabeth became a painter.

In 1868, Alice was received into the Catholic Church at St. George's, Worcester. Her mother had converted, and her sister and father eventually did as well. A devout Catholic, Meynell's faith was of central importance to her life and work.

Meynell’s first book of poetry, Preludes (1875) featured illustrations by Elizabeth. The work was well-received by such literary figures as Tennyson, de Vere, Christina Rosetti, and John Ruskin. Shortly thereafter, she met and married Wilfrid Meynell, a journalist and admirer of her work. With Wilfrid, she had eight children; one died infancy. While raising their family, Meynell continued to write and to assist Wilfrid with the editorial responsibilities of the Weekly Register and Merry England.

Meynell contributed to the Pall Mall Gazette, National Observer, Spectator, and Tablet as a reviewer, critic, essayist, and columnist. An accomplished art critic, she also wrote for the Magazine of Art and Art Journal. She was the author of seven collections of essays, including The Rhythm of Life (1893), and numerous prefaces to works by noted literary figures, including William Blake and William Wordsworth.

Meynell died on November 27, 1922.


Badeni, June. "Meynell [née Thompson], Alice Christiana Gertrude (1847-1922), Poet and Journalist." Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, 2004, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.


6 Linear Feet (5 containers)

Language of Materials



The collection consists of materials related to the writer, editor, and art critic Alice Meynell. It includes correspondence of Meynell and her family; manuscripts and proofs of her writings; illustrations for her Preludes; portraits of Meynell; an illuminated manuscript of her poems; and a scrapbook of articles and reviews both by and about Meynell.


The collection is arranged into six series: I. Correspondence; II. Writings; III. Illuminated manuscript of The Poems of Alice Meynell; IV. Illustrations for Preludes; V. Portraits; and VI. Scrapbook.

Series I. Correspondence is divided into two subseries: A. By Alice Meynell and B. By Alice Meynell's family members.


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. Additional materials were purchased from David J. Holmes in 1989, as well as from Kelmscott Bookshop in November 2015 and July 2016.

Related Materials

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

Viola Meynell letters, MS.1986.035, John J. Burns Library, Boston College.

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

Processing Information

The scrapbook contained both loose correspondence by Meynell and adhered correpsondence to Meynell. The loose correspondence was moved to the correspondence series, since these letters were also authored by her.

Boston College Collection of Alice Meynell
1875-1938, undated
Stephanie Hall
January 2019
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
617-552-2465 (Fax)