Guide to the Dorothy Brett Collection

Collection Title: Dorothy Brett Collection
Dates: 1922-1969
Bulk Dates: 1965-1969
Identification: MS 27
Creator: Brett, Dorothy, 1883-1977
Extent: 1 Boxes
Language of Materials: English
Abstract: Artist Dorothy Brett, a member of the Bloomsbury group, was a friend of Katherine Mansfield, John Middleton Murry, and Frieda and D.H. Lawrence. This collection includes typescripts for her autobiography, a continuation of her memoirs on D.H. Lawrence, and some of her correspondence to John Middleton Murry about the Lawrences. Brett's diaries recounting her visits to Taos, New Mexico (1924), and Capri (1926); a copy of her manuscript on her friendship with Katherine Mansfield; and an interview and correspondence with Leland H. Roloff (1965-1969) are also part of the collection.
Acquisition Information: Most of the materials in the Dorothy Brett Collection were gifts of Northwestern University professor in the School of Speech, Leland H. Roloff, in 1975 and 1981. The correspondence of Dorothy Brett to John Middleton Murry was acquired by the McCormick Library from David Schulson Autographs in 1987.
Processing Information: Processed by Sigrid Pohl Perry in 1988.
Conditions Governing Use: Copyright for materials resides with the literary executors of Dorothy Brett and other creators of the materials in this collection.
Conditions Governing Access: Available for research.
Preferred Citation: Dorothy Brett Collection, MS27, Charles Deering McCormick Library of Special Collections, Northwestern University Library.
Repository: Charles Deering McCormick Library of Special Collections
Deering Library, Level 3
1970 Campus Drive
Evanston, IL, 60208-2300
Phone: 847-491-3635

Biographical/Historical Information

Dorothy Eugenie Brett (1883-1977) studied at the Slade School of Art and University College in London. She became friends with Dora Carrington, Katherine Mansfield, John Middleton Murry, Frieda and D.H. Lawrence and other members of the Bloomsbury circle. She documented her friendship with Lawrence in "Lawrence and Brett: A Friendship." New York, 1933. Brett visited New Mexico with Frieda and D.H. Lawrence in 1924, and moved to Taos permanently by 1926. She changed her artistic focus to the Native American Pueblo culture, painting landscapes and portraits with their cultural themes. Her efforts helped create an artistic community in Taos.

Scope and Content

The correspondence, diaries and typescripts in this collection were written by Dorothy Brett between 1922 and 1969. They reflect Brett's artistic focus, especially her fascination with Native American Pueblo culture which began on a visit to Taos, New Mexico in 1924. The materials fall into two chronological periods: those written from 1922-1948 which include her Bloomsbury friendships, and the written dialogue with Leland H. Roloff from 1965-1969 for the publication of her autobiography for which he prepared a foreword.

Correspondence to John Middleton Murry between 1922-1948 includes discussions about Katherine Mansfield, Frieda and D.H. Lawrence, painting, and life in New Mexico.The correspondence and interviews between 1965-1969 with Leland H. Roloff as part of the process for the publication of her autobiography included such topics as painting, Brett's deafness, and various reminiscences. Roloff's foreword to Brett's biography and his interview with Brett and John Manchester are also part of the collection.

Typescripts in the collection often have corrections in Brett's hand. Included are Brett's "America," "To the White Rose: My Strange and Beautiful Journey," (2 versions), "Christmas Morning," selections from her notebook, and an untitled memoir. Roloff's foreword to Brett's biography and his interview with Brett and John Manchester are also part of the collection.

Photocopies of various photographs, information about the Brett family in England, and a photocopy of Carrington's "The Tale and Doings of the Most Wonderous and Valiant Brett" were also part of Leland H. Roloff's gift.

Arrangement of Materials

The Brett Collection is grouped according to type of material, with each correspondence series organized chronologically. Brett's letters to John Middleton Murry (1922-1948) and Leland H. Roloff (1965-1969) are in separate folders. The diaries and typescripts are each in separate folders.


Geographical Name

Taos (N.M.)

Personal Name

Brett, Dorothy, 1883-1977

Lawrence, D. H. (David Herbert), 1885-1930

Lawrence, Frieda von Richthofen, 1879-1956

Manchester, John, 1917-1988

Mansfield, Katherine, 1888-1923

Murry, John Middleton, 1889-1957

Roloff, Leland H.

Container List / Contents

  • Correspondence of Dorothy Brett to John Middleton Murry (13 letters; 28pp.), 1922-1948.Box 1, Folder 1
    • Letter, 1/2/22Box 1, Folder 1, Item 1
        Length: 1p. Scope and Contents: mentions Katherine Mansfield
    • Letter, 12/11/22Box 1, Folder 1, Item 2
        Length: 1p.
    • Letter, 12/15/22Box 1, Folder 1, Item 3
        Length: 1p.
    • Letter, 5/28/23Box 1, Folder 1, Item 4
        Length: 2p. Scope and Contents: mentions D.H. Lawrence and Katherine Mansfield
    • Letter, 9/1/34Box 1, Folder 1, Item 5
        Length: 2p. Scope and Contents: talks of relationships with Murray and Frieda Lawrence
    • Letter, 1/31/38Box 1, Folder 1, Item 6
        Length: 1p. Scope and Contents: regarding upcoming visit
    • Letter, 1938Box 1, Folder 1, Item 7
        Length: 1p. Scope and Contents: regarding train schedule
    • Letter, 2/16/38Box 1, Folder 1, Item 8
        Length: 6p. Scope and Contents: regarding car accident; religion and Dr. Emmet Fox
    • Letter, 7/7/40Box 1, Folder 1, Item 9
        Length: 2p. Scope and Contents: regarding war in Europe
    • Letter, 6/10/46Box 1, Folder 1, Item 10
        Length: 2p. Scope and Contents: regarding life in New Mexico and painting
    • Letter, 10/15/46Box 1, Folder 1, Item 11
        Length: 3p. Scope and Contents: regarding hot springs; painting
    • Letter, 4/14/47Box 1, Folder 1, Item 12
        Length: 4p. Scope and Contents: regarding painting; aging; etc
    • Letter, 9/10/48Box 1, Folder 1, Item 13
        Length: 2p. Scope and Contents: regarding living; aging; painting
  • Photocopy of letter from John Middleton Murry to Dorothy Brett, n.d.Box 1, Folder 2
      Note:  discussing art Length: 2p.
  • Correspondence of Dorothy Brett to Leland H. Roloff, (17 letters; 33pp.), 1965-1969.Box 1, Folder 3
    • Letter, 3/26/65Box 1, Folder 3, Item 1
        Note:  regarding D.H. Lawrence's play, "David." Length: 2p.
    • Letter, 9/16/66Box 1, Folder 3, Item 2
        Note:  regarding Brett's deafness Length: 2p.
    • Letter, 1/25/67Box 1, Folder 3, Item 3
        Length: 1p.
    • Letter, 9/22/67Box 1, Folder 3, Item 4
        Note:  regarding Brett's biography Length: 2p.
    • Letter, 1/9/68Box 1, Folder 3, Item 5
        Note:  regarding Brett's past, D.H. Lawrence, painting Length: 2p.
    • Letter, 1/12/68Box 1, Folder 3, Item 6
        Note:  regarding a kind of mystic experience Length: 1p.
    • Letter, 1/23/68Box 1, Folder 3, Item 7
        Note:  regarding Brett's reminiscences of various friends Length: 2p.
    • Letter, 3/7/68Box 1, Folder 3, Item 8
        Note:  regarding John and Albert Length: 2p.
    • Letter, 3/21/68Box 1, Folder 3, Item 9
        Note:  regarding John Length: 2p.
    • Letter, 4/20/68Box 1, Folder 3, Item 10
        Length: 2p.
    • Letter, 5/3/68Box 1, Folder 3, Item 11
        Length: 2p.
    • Letter, 6/1/68Box 1, Folder 3, Item 12
        Note:  regarding painting; Indians Length: 2p.
    • Letter, 8/16/68Box 1, Folder 3, Item 13
        Note:  regarding sister-in-law's visit Length: 2p.
    • Letter, 9/16/68Box 1, Folder 3, Item 14
        Length: 2p.
    • Letter, 11/15/68Box 1, Folder 3, Item 15
        Note:  regarding painting; biography of Roloff edited Length: 3p.
    • Letter, 2/5/69Box 1, Folder 3, Item 16
        Note:  regarding postal damage to package of writings received from Roloff Length: 1p.
    • Letter, 2/20/69Box 1, Folder 3, Item 17
        Note:  request for old biography version to be returned Length: 1p.
  • DiariesBox 1, Folder 4
    • Diary. (99pp.) Recorded during Brett's visit to Taos with Frieda and D.H. Lawrence., May 5-August 27, 1924Box 1, Folder 4, Item 1
    • Diary. (30pp.) Recorded during visit to Capri. Includes personal notes, descriptions of dreams, quotations from reading, and two pencil sketches., January 8-June 22, 1926Box 1, Folder 4, Item 2
  • Dorothy Brett, "Katherine Mansfield and Myself." (62pp.), January 9, 1923-March 2, 1924.Box 1, Folder 5
      Note:  Photocopy of manuscript diary kept by Brett.
  • Dorothy Brett, [Autobiography.] pp.1-129, n.d.Box 1, Folder 6
  • Dorothy Brett, [Autobiography, continued] pp.130-225., n.d.Box 1, Folder 7
      Note:  Also includes a revised introduction on pp. 1-1-1-1 - 25-25-25-25, based on transcriptions of taped interviews with Brett by Leland Roloff (25pp.).
  • Dorothy Brett, "America." (93pp.), n.d.Box 1, Folder 8
      Note:  This is essentially a continuation of Brett's memoirs begun as Lawrence and Brett: A Friendship. London, 1933. Note:  Typescript with corrections in Brett's hand.
  • Carrington, "The Tale and Doings of the Most Wonderous and Valiant Brett." (12pp.) Photocopy.Box 1, Folder 9
      Note:  Verse with illustrations
  • Miscellaneous.Box 1, Folder 10
      Note:  4 photographs of Brett paintings, 1964-1965. Photocopies of photographs (3pp.) Entries from "Burke's Peerage" for the Brett family with a note to Dorothy Brett requesting information from her biography for the 1963 edition.
  • InterviewsBox 1, Folder 11
    • Transcription of interview with Brett in Taos, New Mexico. (10pp.) Numerous corrections and two inserts., January 6, 1968Box 1, Folder 11, Item 1
        Note:  Interview conducted by Leland H. Roloff with Dorothy Brett and John Manchester participating in a discussion of family life.
    • Dorothy Brett, "Notebook of Jottings." (2pp. selection)Box 1, Folder 11, Item 2
  • TypescriptsBox 1, Folder 12
    • Dorothy E. Brett, "To the White Rose: My Strange and Beautiful Journey." (5pp.) Typescript of title-page and forward only; with carbon copy.Box 1, Folder 12, Item 1
    • Dorothy E. Brett, "My Strange and Beautiful Journey." (4pp.) Typescript of titlepage, note, and contents list only; with carbon copy.Box 1, Folder 12, Item 2
  • Autobiography and MemoirsBox 1, Folder 13
    • Leland H. Roloff, [Forward to Brett's autobiography.] (4pp.) with corrections.Box 1, Folder 13, Item 1
    • Dorothy Brett, "Christmas Morning." [memoirs] (2pp.) with corrections., December 25, 1967Box 1, Folder 13, Item 2
    • Untitled typescript of memoirs of Brett's life in Taos and with John Manchester written by Brett. (10pp.) with corrections.Box 1, Folder 13, Item 3