Department of Special Collections and University Archives
McFarlin Library. University of Tulsa.  2933 E. 6th St.  Tulsa, OK.  74104-3123 (OKT - OkTU)

Jean Rhys archive

Collection 1976-011

Dates:  1920-1982.

Extent:   (23 boxes, 2 photo albums, 1 oversized folder).

Level of Description:  Item level.

Name of creator(s):  Undetermined.

Date of creation:  Undetermined.

Scope and Content:  The collection is organized into four series: Series 1: Writings, Series 2: Correspondence, Series 3: Photographs, and Series 4: Personal papers.

Series 1: Writings
The writings consist of handwritten, typescript, carbon copy typescript and photocopied typescript short stories, poems, novels, and fragments; manuscript notebooks; press cuttings of book reviews; galley and page proofs; sound recordings; and works by others about Rhys. These materials are arranged alphabetically by title, except in the instance of the Black, Green, Red, and Orange Exercise Books, which have been placed at the beginning; individual poem titles are arranged alphabetically under the category of “Poetry” within the alphabetical sequence. Information and additional notes provided by Rhys scholars (Francoise Chartier, Gini Stevens, Laurie Teal, Martien Kappers, and Mary Lou Emery) are preceded in the inventory by their initials. Also included in this material is Rhys’ translation of Barred, a novel by her first husband, Jean Lenglet (pseud. Edouard de Neve); Selma Vaz Dias’ adaptations of Good Morning Midnight for television and stage; and “L’Affaire Ford,” a typescript account of Rhys’ meeting with Ford Madox Ford and the writing of Quartet. The writings date from approximately 1920-1974.

Series 2: Correspondence
The correspondence consists of handwritten, typescript, carbon copy typescript, and photocopied letters and postcards between Rhys and family, friends, agents, publishers, and colleagues, and is arranged alphabetically by surname, business name or institution, each in a chronological sequence. Predominant correspondents include Eliot Bliss (dating from 1937-1978); Peter Burton (dating from 1969-1970); Andre Deutsch (1963-1986); Joan Forman (1968-1975); Olwyn Hughes (1965-1977); Peggy Kirkaldy (1931-1978); Sonia Orwell (1964-1976); Robert Herbert Ronson (1968-1975); Phyllis Smith Smyser (1936-1982); Oliver Stoner aka E. Morchard Bishop (1939-1977); Selma Vaz Dias (1949-1974); and Francis Wyndham (1957-1978). Correspondents such as Andre Deutsch constitute a subseries in that the correspondence within it is arranged in its own alphabetical sequence. In the case of individuals such as Selma Vaz Dias and Francis Wyndham, any correspondence from them to people other than Rhys is arranged alphabetically following their letters to Rhys. The preponderance of correspondence relating to the publishing firm Andre Deutsch, Ltd. was not originally a part of the Rhys collection but was removed from the Andre Deutsch Archive (also housed in University of Tulsa, Department of Special Collections, McFarlin Library). Any item removed from the Deutsch Archive or from the Francis Wyndham Addenda and filed elsewhere bears the initials “AD,” or “FW” respectively, at the top right-hand corner so that its provenance will be retained.

Series 3: Photographs
This series consists of photographs and photo-reproductions beginning with those of Jean Rhys pictured during various stages of her life; these are followed by all other photographs which are arranged alphabetically by surname or name of location.

Also included are photographs of her husbands (Jean Lenglet, Leslie Tilden-Smith, and Max Hamer); her father (William Rees Williams); “Auntie B;” her daughter (Maryvonne Lenglet); the family’s Dominican servants; Peggy Kirkaldy; and Germaine Richelot.

Photographs of locations include Gyfilliog, North Wales (home of Rhys’ paternal grandparents); views of Geneva, Hampstead, and other villages in Dominica; and views of the West Indies.

Series 4: Personal papers
The personal papers consist of documents concerning the criminal charges made against George Victor Max Hamer; a diagram of the Hamer family tree; French documents pertaining to the death of Rhys’ infant son, William Owen; four watercolor paintings attributed to Brenda Lockhart; notes and lists made by Diana Melly during her stay with Rhys in 1977-1978; Rhys’ French passport; a ticket to the Casino de Monte Carlo, circa 1926; handwritten list of clothing, possibly for Maryvonne; handwritten list of a Dominica itinerary; three volumes of The Star Dominica edited by Phyllis Shand Allfrey; Rhys’ leatherette pochette; financial papers dating from 1963-1978; Leslie Tilden- Smith’s driver’s license and passport; and an handwritten fragment about a sea voyage attributed to Rhys’ father, William Rees Williams.

Administrative/Biographical History: 

Access and Copyright: 

Language and Scripts:  English and French.

Finding aid/Inventory:   Finding aid is available online.

Provenance/Source of Acquisition:  The initial collection was established in 1976 with the acquisition of the Jean Rhys-Selma Vaz Dias correspondence and related materials and a subsequent acquisition of the exercise notebooks (with the exception of The Orange Exercise Book) and short story drafts from Bertram Rota, Ltd. Letters from Rhys’ stepdaughter, Phyllis Smith Smyser, were acquired as a gift from Ms. Smyser in 1978. The Olwyn Hughes correspondence was acquired from House of Books in 1980; the Robert H. Ronson correspondence was acquired from Ronson through Rota that same year. The Rhys-Oliver Stoner (E. Morchard Bishop) correspondence was acquired from Stoner through Thomas A. Goldwasser in 1994; and the Eliot Bliss correspondence from Rota that same year. In August of 1996, the Francis Wyndham Addenda was acquired through Bertram Rota, Ltd.

Date(s) of description:   Milissa Burkart, Mar 2005.

Access Points:

Subject Headings

Personal names

Corporate names


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