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Garnett Collection

Identifier: MS3

Scope and Contents

The Garnett Collection consists of more than 700 pages of correspondence written to members of the Garnett family, Richard (1835–1906), Edward (1868–1937) and David (1892–1981). Authors of these letters include H.E. Bates, E.M. Forster, Leslie Stephen, Richard Curle, Liam O'Flaherty, Henry Williamson and H.G. Wells.

The correspondence in the Garnett Collection reflects the careers and friendships of these men. Another important part of the collection is the correspondence of John Maynard Keynes to Vanessa Bell, the mother of David Garnett's second wife, Angelica Bell. This group of nearly 80 letters shows Keynes' affection for Vanessa as well as his admiration of her talents.

The original, corrected typescript of George Bernard Shaw's “The Peace Conference” (c. 1918) is also included in the collection. These articles were written during the conference and were later published as Peace Conference Hints by Constable in 1919.


  • 1882 - 1966
  • Majority of material found within 1891 - 1928


Language of Materials


Conditions Governing Access

Available for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright for materials resides with the literary executors of individual letters. All users must comply with federal copyright regulations.

Biographical Information

Richard Garnett (1835–1906) worked at the British Museum for 50 years, and became Keeper of Printed Books; he was the author of many biographies, histories of Italian and English literature, verse translations of European poetry, and a poet in his own right.

His son, Edward (1868–1937), was a publisher's editor for over 50 years. He recognized the literary talents of such authors as Stephen Crane, Robert Frost, Sinclair Lewis and Ernest Hemingway, and was able to get their work published in England. Edward Garnett was also the friend and advisor of such writers as Joseph Conrad, W.H. Hudson, John Galsworthy, D.H. Lawrence, W.H. Davies, and T.E. Lawrence.

David Garnett (1892–1981), Edward's son, became an author and wrote eleven novels as well as his autobiography; he edited the letters of T.E. Lawrence and the novels of Thomas Love Peacock. He and Francis Birrell started a bookshop; he helped found the Nonesuch Press and the publishing firm of Rupert Hart-Davis.


3.00 Boxes


The Garnett collection of correspondence spans three generations of the Garnett family, consisting of more than 700 pages of correspondence written to Richard (1835–1906), his son Edward (1868–1937), and Edward's son David (1892–1981). Authors of these letters include H.E. Bates, E.M. Forster, Leslie Stephen, Richard Curle, Liam O'Flaherty, Henry Williamson and H.G. Wells. Although the collection of correspondence spans nearly eight decades, from 1882 to 1966, the bulk of the letters were written between 1891 and 1928.

Arrangement of Materials

The correspondence in the Garnett Collection has been arranged first by recipient, then alphabetically.

Acquisition Information

The purchase of the Garnett Collection from Hamill & Barker, Inc. in 1971 was made possible through a larger fund established in memory of Kenneth Farwell Burgess (1887–1965), a trustee of Northwestern University from 1931–1959.

Separated Materials

Presentation copies of books from David Garnett's library have been cataloged with other Special Collections monographs, primarily in the 20th Century English Collection; a list of these books can be found in the Garnett folder in the department's Collections File.

Additional material connected with the Garnett family can be found in the Hamill & Barker Collection and in the general manuscript files under Norman Douglas and Edward and Richard Garnett.

Guide to the Garnett Collection
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard

Repository Details

Part of the Charles Deering McCormick Library of Special Collections Repository

Deering Library, Level 3
1970 Campus Drive
Evanston IL 60208-2300 US