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Joanna Richardson:

An Inventory of Her Papers at the Harry Ransom Center

Creator: Richardson, Joanna, 1925-2008
Title: Joanna Richardson Papers
Dates: 1844-1969 (bulk 1945-1969)
Extent: 10 document boxes, 1 oversize folder (osf), 1 galley folder (gf) (4.20 linear feet)
Abstract: The Joanna Richardson Papers consist of manuscript and typescript drafts, page proofs, incoming letters, scrapbooks, research notes, and clippings documenting her early work as a biographer, translator, literary critic, and journalist from 1945 to 1969.
Call Number: Manuscript Collection MS-3519
Language: English and French
Access:

Open for research. Part or all of this collection is housed off-site and may require up to three business days notice for access in the Ransom Center’s Reading and Viewing Room. Please contact the Center before requesting this material: reference@hrc.utexas.edu




Acquisition:

Purchase, 1964 (R2088)

Processed by:

Shelley Rowland, 2009; updated by Heather Bollinger, 2012

Repository:

The University of Texas at Austin, Harry Ransom Center


Joanna Leah Richardson (1925-2008) was a prolific biographer, translator, literary critic, and journalist, known for her studies of nineteenth and early twentieth-century French and English authors.

Born on August 8, 1925, in London, England, Joanna Richardson was the daughter of Frederick and Charlotte Richardson. She spent her childhood at Hampstead Garden Suburb and was educated at the Downs School, Seaford, in Sussex. She then studied at St. Anne's College, Oxford, where she read modern languages. After graduation, she worked briefly as a research assistant to the illustrations editor of Chambers's Encyclopaedia, and then became a correspondent for the New English Weekly. She later returned to Oxford to do research under Enid Starkie, a literary critic and biographer of nineteenth-century French poets.

Richardson began her career as a biographer in 1952, with the publication of Fanny Brawne: A Biography, a study of the muse of poet John Keats. Her other biographies and studies of English poets include Edward FitzGerald (1960), The Pre-Eminent Victorian: A Study of Tennyson (1962), The Everlasting Spell: A Study of Keats and His Friends (1963), Edward Lear (1965), and The Life and Letters of John Keats (1981).

In 1958, Richardson published Théophile Gautier: His Life and Times, the first of many biographies of French authors. Her later works included Verlaine (1971), Stendhal (1974), Victor Hugo (1976), Zola (1978), Colette (1983), Judith Gautier (1986), and Baudelaire (1994). In 1989, Richardson was awarded the prestigious Prix Goncourt for biography for Judith Gautier, becoming the first non-French author to receive the award.

In addition to her biographies of authors, Richardson published biographies of historical figures such as Princess Mathilde Bonaparte, George IV, Leopold I of Belgium, and Louis XIV. She translated the poems of Verlaine and Baudelaire into English, as well as Théophile Gautier's Mademoiselle de Maupin. She contributed articles and reviews to numerous newspapers, magazines, and academic journals. She also contributed to BBC radio programs, recording features on literary history and translating plays for the radio from the French.

Richardson was elected a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 1959, and she served on the council from 1961 to 1987. She was appointed a Chevalier de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres in 1987. Oxford University awarded her a DLitt several years before her death. Richardson died on March 7, 2008, at age 82. At the time of her death, she was writing a biography of Gustave Flaubert.


"Dr. Joanna Richardson."   The Times (London), March 24, 2008, p. 48.

"Joanna Richardson."   Contemporary Authors Online, http://galenet.galegroup.com (accessed 13 October 2009).

"Joanna Richardson."   The Daily Telegraph (London), March 12, 2008, p. 23.

Plowright, Piers. "Joanna Richardson."   The Independent (London), March 18, 2008, p. 42.


The Joanna Richardson Papers consist of manuscript and typescript drafts, page proofs, incoming letters, scrapbooks, research notes, and clippings documenting her early work as a biographer, translator, literary critic, and journalist from 1945 to 1969. The material is arranged in two series: I. Works and Translations, 1953-1969, and II. Career and Personal Papers, 1844-1965 (bulk 1945-1965). This collection was previously accessible through a card catalog but has been re-cataloged as part of a retrospective conversion project.

Series I., Works and Translations, contains manuscripts, typescripts, and page proofs from Richardson's early biographies of European literary and historical figures, including My Dearest Uncle: A Life of Leopold I, First King of the Belgians (1961), The Pre-Eminent Victorian: A Study of Tennyson (1962), The Everlasting Spell: A Study of Keats and His Friends (1963), and Princess Mathilde (1969). Also present are manuscripts, typescripts, and page proofs for her series of biographies on the formative years of famous authors and historical figures. These include The Young Lewis Carroll (1963), The Young Louis Pasteur (1964), The Young Tennyson (1964), and The Young Sarah Bernhardt (1965). Richardson published the latter two works under the pseudonym Charlotte Hope.

Also present in Series I are a number of Richardson's articles, radio broadcast scripts, and lectures on British and French literary and cultural history. Richardson's work as a translator is represented by her translations of A New Lease of Life by Georges Simenon, plays by Charles Cordier and Michel de Ghelderode, and several poems by Verlaine. The collection contains a bound two-volume copy of her thesis, Théophile Gautier: Journalist and Critic. Other unpublished works in this series include The Londoners, an anthology of literary excerpts depicting historical London, and Tatterdemalion, a children's story.

Incoming letters, scrapbooks, research notes, and clippings comprise the bulk of Series II., Career and Personal Papers. Most incoming letters in the collection are from colleagues, publishers, and BBC radio staff and pertain to Richardson's published works, radio programs, and research. Incoming letters are also located in Richardson's scrapbooks. No outgoing correspondence is present in the collection.

Four scrapbooks document Richardson's career from 1950 to 1965, containing manuscript and typescript drafts of reviews and articles, newspaper clippings of items by and about Richardson, notes, incoming letters, and contracts. Research notes, transcriptions, and clippings document Richardson's research on a wide range of subjects and time periods.


People

Richardson, Joanna

Subjects

Biography--19th century

Biography--20th century

French literature--19th century

English literature--19th century

Document Types

Drafts

First drafts

Galley proofs

Manuscripts for publication

Page proofs

Radio scripts

Typescripts