Harry Ransom CenterThe University of Texas at Austin

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Penelope Fitzgerald:

An Inventory of Her Papers at the Harry Ransom Center

Creator Fitzgerald, Penelope, 1916-
Title Penelope Fitzgerald Papers
Dates: 1912-1988
Extent 8 boxes, 1 oversize flat box, 1 bound mss. (3.36 linear feet)
Abstract The papers of this British writer include research notes, manuscript drafts, incoming correspondence, and photographs relating to all of her major works.
RLIN Record # TXRC91-A1
Language English.

Open for research


Purchase, 1989

Processed by

Andra Whitworth, Vonda Totten, 1990

Repository :

Harry Ransom Center, University of Texas at Austin

Penelope Knox Fitzgerald was born into a literary family on December 17, 1916, in Lincoln, England. Her father was E. V. Knox, editor of Punch magazine (1932-1949). One of her uncles, Monseigneur Ronald Knox, was well known as a translator of the Bible and a writer of detective stories.

Penelope attended Somerville College and, in 1941, married Desmond Fitzgerald with whom she raised three children. Her work experience was varied and included working in the Ministry of Food, for the BBC, in a haunted bookshop in Southwold, and as an English teacher. Her first professional experience in writing came in the 1950s when she worked as an assistant editor for the literary magazine, World Review. She began her writing career as the biographer of Edward Burne-Jones( Edward Burne-Jones: A Biography, 1975) and of her father and his three brothers in The Knox Brothers (1977).

Fitzgerald began writing fiction after her husband was diagnosed with cancer in the 1970s, partly in an effort to entertain him through his illness. Her first published novel was a mystery, The Golden Child (1977). Her second novel, The Bookshop, was shortlisted for the Booker Prize in 1978, and in 1979 Fitzgerald won the Booker Prize for her novel Offshore. She was also shortlisted for Innocence (1986), The Beginning of Spring (1988) and The Gate of Angels (1990). Fitzgerald won the Heywood Hill Literary Prize for lifetime achievement in literature in 1996 and was awarded the National Book Critics Circle Prize in 1997 for Blue Flower, her fictional biography of the German Romantic poet Novalis.

Penelope Fitzgerald died on April 28, 2000. A collection of her short stories, The Means of Escape, was published later that year. Her collected essays, A House of Air and The Afterlife, were also published posthumously in 2003.

Research notes, manuscripts, correspondence, printed materials, contracts, and photographs, 1971-1988 (8 document cases), document the literary works of Penelope Fitzgerald. Arranged as received in two series representing her creative works and research notebooks, the papers reflect the research and production phases of her works as well as the responses to them. Nearly half of the materials are research notebooks filled with various notes, writings, and clippings. There are also research materials included in the creative works series under each title. A third series was added comprising personal materials not related to any of Fitzgerald's writings. Oversized materials include one promotional poster for The Beginning of Spring and printed materials.

The creative works series includes varying levels of documentation on all nine of Fitzgerald's major works( The Knox Brothers, Offshore, Innocence, Charlotte Mew, The Beginning of Spring, The Bookshop , The Golden Child, Edward Burne-Jones, and At Freddie's) and four of her minor works( The Axe, The Poetry Bookshop, The Works of Ernest Shepherd, and Human Voices ). The papers contain substantial information on the Knox brothers, Charlotte Mew, and Edward Burne-Jones that provides extensive documentation for research. There are eleven manuscripts, two of which are handwritten and four of which contain extensive corrections. Much of the research correspondence is annotated with comments by Fitzgerald. Also included in the creative works series are Fitzgerald's inventory lists which state the significance of many of the materials she collected during her research. There is no outgoing correspondence in the collection.

The researcher should be aware that this is a very consciously created collection in that Fitzgerald selected the materials that would be included and made notations on many of them as to their significance or their relationship to her work. Some of her commentaries are quite blunt. None of Fitzgerald's life prior to her writing career is reflected in the papers.


Adams, Frederick B. (Frederick Baldwin), 1910-

Arnott, W.G.

Askwith, Betty, 1909-

Batey, Mavis.

Blakeway, John, 1918-

Blunt, Wilfrid, 1901-

Bruford, Walter Horace, 1894-

Butler, Basil Christopher

Carrington, Charles Edmund, 1897-

Cassavetti, Eileen

Christian, John, fl.1974-

Cline, Clarence Lee

Colbeck, R. Norman (Reginald Norman), 1903-

Collins, Dorothy E.

Crankshaw, Edward

Crowe, Michael J.

Dammers, A.H. (Alfred Hounsell), 1921-

D'Arcy, Ella

Daube, David

Dearden, James S.

Denniston, Robin

Dickinson, Patric, 1914-

Dorment, Richard

Easton, Malcolm

Edel, Leon, 1907-

Ellmann, Richard, 1918-

Farmer, Herbert Henry, 1892-

Farnhill, Kenneth H.

Feldhaus, Irmgard

Fredeman, William E. (William Evan), 1928-

Freyberg, Paul Richard Freyberg, Baron, 1923-

Garnett, Richard

Gilling, John

Gittings, Robert

Gladstone, Erskine William, Sir, 1925-

Golombek, Harry, 1911-

Grylls, R. Glynn (Rosalie Glynn), 1905-

Haight, Gordon S. (Gordon Sherman), 1901-1985

Hardinge of Penshurst, George Edward Charles Hardinge, Baron, 1921-

Henderson, Philip, 1906-

Hinsley, F.H. (Francis Harry), 1918-

Holroyd, Michael

Hooper, Leonard J., 1914-

Howard, George Anthony Geoffrey, 1920-

Isham, Gyles, Sir, Bart., 1903-

Jenkins, A.D. Fraser

Jones, Peter, 1929-

Judd, Stephen

Kahn, David, 1930-

Kelvin, Norman

King, Francis Henry

Kingsford R.J.L. (Reginald John Lethbridge), 1900-

Lannom, Gloria W.

Lascelles, Mary

Levy, Paul, 1941-

Lillington, Kenneth

Lovat, Simon Christopher Joseph Fraser, Baron, 1911-

Maas, Jeremy

Maclean, A.D. (Alan Duart)

Macmillan, Harold, 1894-

Maschler, Tom

Mew, Charlotte Mary, 1869-1928

Monro, Harold, 1879-1932

Morris, Helen Soutar, 1909-

Murdoch, John, 1945-

Murray, John, 1908-

Needham, Joseph, 1900-

Newby, P.H. (Percy Howard), 1918-

Ormond, Richard

Oxford and Asquith, Julian Edward George Asquith, earl, 1916-

Parkinson, Ronald

Plymouth, Other Robert Ivor Windsor-Clive, earl, 1923-

Richardson, Margaret Alison

Samuels-Lasner, Mark, 1952-

Sewter, A.C.

Spencer, Gilbert, 1892-

Surtees, Virginia

Sykes, Marjorie

Thirkell, Lance

Tillotson, Kathleen Mary

Toynbee, Philip

Trevelyan, Raleigh

Usborne, Richard

Vidler, Alexander Roper, 1899-

Wansbrough, Elizabeth Lewis

Wansbrough, George, 1904-

Watts, Marjorie

Waugh, Auberon

Waugh, Evelyn, 1903-1966

Wilkinson, L.P.

Williams, Frederick J.

Wilson, Angus

Winterbottom, F.W. (Frederick William), 1897-

Yorke, Margaret