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Flora Thompson:

An Inventory of Her Papers at the Harry Ransom Center

Creator: Thompson, Flora, 1876-1947
Title: Flora Thompson Papers
Dates: 1912-1965 (bulk 1921-1948)
Extent: 4 boxes, 1 oversize folder (1.75 linear feet)
Abstract: The collection contains typescripts, including manuscripts for all of Thompson's published novels, as well as several unpublished works, magazine leaves, correspondence, scrapbooks, clippings, photocopies, woodcut illustrations, and photographs.
RLIN Record ID: TXRC97-A19
Access:

Open for research




Acquisition:

Purchase, 1967 (#3561); Gift, 1993 (#10058)

Provenance:

The bulk of the Thompson papers were purchased in 1967 from Winifred Money, the literary executor for the estate of Winifred Thompson, Flora Thompson's daughter. Photocopies of correspondence from Flora Thompson to Arthur and Anna Ball and H.J. Massingham were donated in 1993 by Thompson biographer Gillian Lindsay.

Processed by:

Stephen Mielke, 1997

Repository:

Harry Ransom Center, The University of Texas at Austin


Flora Jane (Timms) Thompson was born December 5, 1876 (some sources state 1877), at Juniper Hill, Oxfordshire, England, to Albert Timms, a stone mason, and Emma Timms, a nursemaid. A voracious reader as a child, Flora Timms grew up with five younger siblings in a stern and impoverished household headed by an alcoholic father. At age 14, she left home to become a post office clerk in a nearby village where she continued her education through reading, writing, and observing the surrounding countryside in her off time. She worked in several post offices before meeting and marrying John Thompson, a fellow clerk, in 1903.

Flora Thompson left the postal service after her marriage and gave birth to a daughter, Winifred, in 1903 and a son, Henry, in 1909. She continued to write while raising her children and was first published after winning a literary essay contest in The Ladies Companion magazine. One year later her first short story appeared in the same publication. During World War I, the Thompson family moved to Liphook and Flora Thompson rejoined the post office. She gave birth to another son, Peter, in 1918, but continued to write, and in 1920 began publishing short stories in The Catholic Fireside magazine. In 1921 she started a series of articles titled "Out of Doors" that focused on changes in the seasons and nature conservancy. In 1922, she changed the title of these monthly essays to "The Peverel Papers," and they appeared in The Catholic Fireside until 1927. Thompson also wrote "The Fireside Reading Circle" series from 1923 to 1925 which focused on the study of English literature and literary figures. She ended this series when she began The Peverel Society, a correspondence club that offered literary instruction and criticism to its members from 1925 to 1941.

Thompson's first published book was a collection of poems titled Bog Myrtle and Peat (1921). After its publication she continued to publish journal articles and work at the post office with her husband. In 1928, the Thompsons moved to Devon and she began to focus her article writing on her childhood memories. Using these articles as a basis, she published her first novel, a fictionalized autobiography titled Lark Rise in 1939. She continued the biographical theme in her next two works Over to Candleford (1941) and Lark Rise to Candleford (1943). These three novels received great critical praise as historical accounts of the economic, social, and cultural life of pre-industrial rural Oxfordshire and were published under one cover in 1945 as Lark Rise to Candleford. Thompson's advancing age, the trials of World War II, and the death of her youngest son in the war wore heavily on her while writing these novels. She died at Devon in 1947, but not before finishing a continuation of her first three books titled Still Glides the Stream, published posthumously in 1948. Yet another biographical work, Heatherly, was written in 1944 but was not published until 1979 along with selected articles from The Catholic Fireside in A Country Calendar and Other Writings. Other Thompson articles from The Catholic Fireside were published in the 1986 book The Peverel Papers .


Additional information on Flora Thompson and her works can be found in:

Flora Thompson: The Story of the Lark Rise Writer by Gillian Lindsay (London: Robert Hale, 1990).

Flora Thompson by Margaret Lane (London: J. Murray, 1976).


Typescripts, magazine leaves, correspondence, scrapbooks, clippings, photocopies, woodcut illustrations, and photographs reflect the literary activities of Flora Thompson from 1912 until her death in 1947. Included among these materials are items collected by Thompson's daughter, Winifred, that document the publication of Thompson's works from the time of her death up to 1965.

The papers have been organized into four series: I. Works, 1912-1948 (15 folders); II. The Peverel Society, 1936, n.d. (4 folders); III. Correspondence, 1921-1965, n.d. (bulk 1931-1947) (5 folders); and IV. Scrapbooks, 1921-1965, n.d. (6 folders).

The bulk of the collection, contained in the Works series, consists of typed manuscripts with handwritten editorial corrections. Included are manuscripts for all of Thompson's published novels, as well as several unpublished works. Most of these pieces are represented by one full draft manuscript, although some early draft fragments are present, as are a large number of articles that Thompson published in various magazines and later adapted for use in her novels.

The correspondence found in this collection consists mainly of photocopies of Thompson's letters to Arthur and Anna Ball from 1931 to 1947. The originals of this correspondence are held at The University of Exeter Library in England and permission to copy or quote these letters must be obtained from Exeter.

The earliest materials, dating from 1912 to 1920 are magazine articles written for The Lady's Companion, The Literary Monthly, and The Catholic Fireside, but the bulk of the collection coincides with the publication of Thompson's first book in 1921 through her death in 1947, and subsequent publication of Still Glides the Stream in 1948. Materials dating after 1947 were collected by Thompson's daughter.


The correspondence found in this collection consists mainly of photocopies of Thompson’s letters to Arthur and Anna Ball from 1931 to 1947. The originals of this correspondence are held at The University of Exeter Library in England, and permission to copy or quote these letters must be obtained from Exeter.


People

Brown, Evelyn Scott

Lamb, Lynton

Lane, Margaret

Subjects

Authors, English, 20th century

Country life, England, History, 19th century

Places

Hampshire (England), Social life and customs

Oxfordshire (England), Social life and customs

Document Types

Scrapbooks

Photographs