Harry Ransom CenterThe University of Texas at Austin

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Ernest William Smith:

An Inventory of His Papers at the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center

Creator: Smith, Ernest William
Title: Ernest William Smith Papers
Dates: 1870-1976
Extent: 2 boxes, 1 oversize folder (.82 linear feet)
Abstract: These papers consist primarily of manuscripts, notes, photographs, correspondence, and memorabilia that reflect the career of the British journalist. The majority of the manuscripts suggest the possibility of the preparation of a second autobiography, tentatively entitled 'From Newsboy to War Correspondent: An Anecdotal Retrospect of Fifty Years of Newspaper Life.' Also present are materials Smith collected from his travels, related especially to his interests in political movements and military history.
RLIN record #: TXRC94-A22
Language: English.
Access

Open for research




Acquisition

Purchase, 1975 (R6858)

Processed by

Karen Draper, 1983; revised David H. Sparks, 1994

Repository:

Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center, University of Texas at Austin


Ernest William Smith, journalist and special correspondent, was born in 1864 on the Isle of Wight, Hampshire, Great Britain. Except for a few anecdotes from his autobiography, Fields of Adventure (1923), very little is known of his early life or family history. As a youth he became a junior reporter on the Isle of Wight Chronicle and the Portsmouth Times where he, among other duties, reported on the lives and activities of the British Royal Family. In 1886 Smith went to Paris as a foreign correspondent for the Pall Mall Gazette as well as several other London papers.

Smith joined the Daily News in the 1890s and became assistant to Mrs. Emily Crawford, the paper's Paris correspondent, from 1897 to 1899. During this time, Smith also became associated with the origins of the literary magazine, Revues des Revues (1890-1919), which was superseded in 1919 by La Revue modiale (1919-1936). Through his journalistic and editorial efforts, Smith corresponded with and met some of the most prominent European literary and dramatic figures of the day, including Sarah Bernhardt, Anatole France, Lord Kitchner, Lord Roberts, Cecil and Frank Rhodes, Victorien Sardou, G. W. Steevens, Oscar Wilde, Emile Zola, and others.

In the early 1890s, Smith traveled to Russia to report on the widespread famine and relief efforts. During these travels he became acquainted with Leo Tolstoy and his daughters. In 1891 Smith published a French translation of Tolstoy's Khodite v svete, which was entitled Marchez pendant que vous avez la lumiére: Récit du temps des premiers chrétiens. After returning to Paris, he continued to report on the volatile political situation in France, especially the infamous trial of Alfred Dreyfus, 1894-1895. At this time he also edited and translated into English the autobiography of Henri Rochefort, Adventures of my Life (1896).

Leaving the Daily News in 1900, Smith was engaged by the Morning Leader and the Star as a special correspondent to report on the Boer War (1899-1902) in South Africa. Smith acted as both writer and photographer since the innovations of Ernest Parke (editor of both papers), mandated that all reporters carry cameras. Smith was able to file reports from the siege of Ladysmith and to take photographs of the troops and battle sites during the winter of 1899-1900. Smith was awarded, as a result of his capture, detainment, and personal "eye witness" reports of the Boer War, a medal from Queen Victoria inscribed "Defender of Ladysmith" .

Smith acted as war correspondent for the duration of World War I, and also covered the Greek Revolution of 1916. He was especially interested in the initial use of aviation during the war, as well as the introduction of other turn of the century modern inventions such as the telephone and film. In 1930-31 British International Pictures engaged Smith as an advisor for the film Dreyfus (1931). Smith also wrote a series of stories for boys which was published in Chums magazine. Smith continued to write occasional articles for both newspapers and radio until his death in 1935.


The Ernest Smith Papers, 1870-1976 (bulk 1890-1935), consist primarily of manuscripts, notes, photographs, correspondence, and memorabilia that reflect his career as a journalist. The majority of the manuscripts suggest the possibility of the preparation of a second autobiography, tentatively entitled 'From Newsboy to War Correspondent: An Anecdotal Retrospect of Fifty Years of Newspaper Life.' Also present are materials Smith collected from his travels, related especially to his interests in political movements and military history. There are also newspaper clippings collected by Ernest Smith and his son Arthur Smith. The papers are arranged in four series: Works, 1916-1930, nd; Correspondence, 1870-1931, nd; Personal, 1894-1935; and Smith Family, 1939-1976.

The Works series contains manuscripts and related materials possibly gathered together for Smith's second autobiography, `From Newsboy to War Correspondent: An Anecdotal Retrospect of Fifty Years of Newspaper Life.' These materials consist of drafts in both typescript and holograph versions, along with miscellaneous draft fragments, research notes, and/or outlines. These have been arranged to conform to an outline of the autobiography found among these papers (Folder 1.1). Also found here are several manuscripts and published versions of Smith's journalistic writings (1916-1930). While these also may have been intended as reference material for the new autobiography, their relationship to the other manuscripts is less clear. These articles and press releases are arranged alphabetically, and also are often accompanied by miscellaneous notes and research materials.

The small but unique correspondence, 1879-1931, is alphabetically arranged and consists primarily of correspondence relating to Smith's editorial duties on the Revues des Revues and as a special correspondent. Also found here is outgoing correspondence by Smith that includes a first day issue postcard of the "First United Kingdom Aerial Post, 1911." Significant correspondents include Sarah Bernhardt, Maxime Ducamp, Alexandre Dumas (fils), Kamel al-Husseini (Grand Mufti of Jerusalem), Henrik Ibsen, Maurice Maeterlinck, Helmut Graf von Moltke, Emile Ollivier, Ouida (Maria Louise Ramé), Henri Rochefort, Tatiana Sukhotina-Tolstaia, Alexandra Tolstoy, Leo Tolstoy, and Jules Verne, among others.

The Personal series, 1894-1935, comprises materials related to Smith's works and travels as a journalist. Found here is memorabilia of the Boer War (1899-1902), which includes two manuscripts by J. Stuart (1900), and printed flyers, as well as a broadside of song lyrics by Rudyard Kipling (ca. 1900). Photographs found here include those taken by Smith in the field during the siege of Ladysmith and other campaigns of the Boer War. Also present are the souvenir booklet and photographic stills for the 1931 British International Pictures film, Dreyfus for which Smith was an advisor. Original materials from the Dreyfus trial era are also found here including a circular entitled "Testament Officel d'Emile Zola." Included in this series are several early socialist/anarchist leaflets (translated into Russian, French and Italian) and Greek revolutionary newspapers (1916). This series also includes textbooks as well as other school papers in essay form of unknown date, origin, and authorship.

The last series, Smith Family, 1939-1976, consists of material collected by Arthur W. Smith, son of Ernest W. Smith, and includes correspondence, newspaper clippings and miscellaneous notes. These materials focus on exhibits of the Smith Papers, as well as their potential sale to the HRC and other institutions. In this series are also found two works of fiction of unknown date, origin, and authorship. A note found in the miscellaneous materials here suggest that these manuscripts were written by Arthur Smith's brother, who was killed while working for the Anglo-Persian Oil Company in Persia.


Correspondents

Bernhardt, Sarah, 1844-1923.

Dufferin and Ava, Harriot Georgina Blackwood, Marchioness of, 1843?-1936.

Dumas, Alexandre, 1824-1895.

Du Camp, Maxime, 1822-1894.

Garibaldi, Giuseppi, 1807-1882.

Husseini, Kamel al-, Grand Mufti of Jerusalem.

Ibsen, Henrik, 1828-1906.

Maeterlinck, Maurice, 1862-1949.

Moltke, Helmuth, Graf von, 1800-1891.

Ouida, 1839-1908.

Parke, Ernest.

Rochefort, Henri, 1831-1913.

Stanley, Henry M., (Henry Morton), 1841-1904.

Sukhotina-Tolstaía, T. L. (Tatíana Lvovna), 1864-1950.

Tolstoy, Alexandra, 1884-1979.

Tolstoy, Leo, graf, 1828-1910.

Verne, Jules, 1828-1905.

Subjects

Revues des revues, 1890-1919.

Anarchism--History--Sources.

Antisemitism--History.

Dreyfus, Alfred, 1874-1934--Trials, litigation, etc.

Journalists, English.

Ladysmith (South Africa)--History--Siege, 1899-1900.

South African War--1899-1902--Press coverage.

Document types

Artifacts.

Autobiographies.

Broadsides.

First drafts.

Manifestoes.

Maps.

Newspapers.

Passports.

Postcards.

Photographs.