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H. Montgomery Hyde:

An Inventory of His Collection at the Harry Ransom Center

Creator: Hyde, H. Montgomery (Harford Montgomery), 1907- .
Title: H. Montgomery Hyde Collection
Dates: 1907-1989
Extent: 6 boxes (2.52 linear ft.), 1 galley folder, 4 oversize folders
Abstract: The Collection contains Hyde's work and correspondence relating to his research and writings about Roger Casement, an Irishman who worked for the British Consulate Service and was hung after being convicted of treason in 1916. Much of the controversy regarding Casement centered around the authenticity of his diaries, which contain many homoerotic passages. Included are typescript and research materials related to his works: Trial of Sir Roger Casement (1960), A History of Pornography, The Trials of Oscar Wilde and Henry James at Home.
Call Number: Manuscript Collection MS-02108
Language: English
Access: Open for access.

Administrative Information

Acquisition: Purchase, 1974; Gift, 1976
Processed by: Deborah Shelby, May 1994; Revised 1995, David Hatfield Sparks; Chelsea Dinsmore, 2002

Harry Ransom Center, The University of Texas at Austin

Biographical Sketch

Harford Montgomery Hyde was born in Belfast, Ireland, in 1907. His parents were James Johnstone Hyde, a linen merchant, and Isobel G. Montgomery, a distant cousin of Henry James. Hyde attended Sedbergh School at Queen's University, Belfast, Magdalen College, and Oxford where he read history and law. He began his practice of law as a barrister in London and on the North-Eastern Circuit in 1934. He and his wife Dorothy, a member of the World War II Fire Service, were married in April 1939. Later that year, Hyde joined the British Army Intelligence Corps. He became a Lieutenant-Colonel in the service and traveled to many countries including America, Denmark, Finland, France, Italy, Sweden, and Russia.
Beginning in 1947, Hyde spent two years as the legal advisor for the British Lion Film Corp. He served as a member of Parliament from the Belfast North Division in the House of Commons from 1950-59. He played a prominent role in the fight to abolish the death penalty for murder and became involved in efforts to bring about legal and social reform in the areas of censorship, pornography, and civil rights for homosexuals. Hyde also acted as a United Kingdom delegate for the Council of Europe Consultative Assembly in Strasbourg, France, from 1952-55. From 1959 to 1961 he was a professor of history and political science at Punjab University, Lahore, Pakistan.
The Rise of Castlereagh,Hyde's first published work, appeared in 1933. He published more than 40 books on various topics, including several volumes in the Notable Trial Series. As a scholar of trends in criminal law and social history, he focused particularly on pornography and scandal and wrote numerous works on Oscar Wilde, Alfred Douglas, Henry James, Roger Casement, and Judge Jefferys. Some of his titles include: Air Defense and the Civil Population (1937), Mexican Empire (1946), Privacy and the Press (1947), The Trial of Oscar Wilde (1948), The Trial of Craig and Bentley (1954), Trial of Sir Roger Casement (1960), Oscar Wilde: The Aftermath (1963), A History of Pornography (1964), Henry James at Home (1969), The Love that Dared Not Speak Its Name (1970), Oscar Wilde: A Biography (1975), Crime Has Its Heros (1976), The Annotated Oscar Wilde (1982), and Secret Intelligence Agent (1982), an autobiographical account of Hyde's activities during World War II. Hyde died in the summer of 1989, just after completing the introduction to his final work, The Lady Chatterley's Lover Trial, published in 1990.

Scope and Contents

The H. Montgomery Hyde collection is arranged in five series: Series I. Correspondence, 1935-1971 (1 box); Series II. Trial of Roger Casement, 1910-1974 (1 box); Series III. A History of Pornography, 1963-1964 (.5 box); Series IV. Oscar Wilde, 1946-1967 (2.5 boxes); and Series V. Henry James, 1897-1970 (bulk 1954-1970) (1.5 boxes). The social and legal issues raised during the trials of Roger Casement and Oscar Wilde form the nucleus of Hyde's research, literary output, and advocacy, culminating in 1967 with the adoption of the recommendations of the Wolfenden Committee and the eventual rise of the modern gay rights movement in England.
The Correspondence series, 1935-1971, is chronologically arranged with carbon copies of Hyde's outgoing letter occasionally interfiled with the incoming letters. Hyde's correspondence pertains to his research on Roger Casement's diaries and trial and the history of pornography as well as the publication of his two books, Trial of Sir Roger Casement (1960) and A History of Pornography (1964). While the majority of the correspondence in the collection focuses on the editorial and publishing process, several letters, such as those from Michael Francis Doyle (Casement's American counsel), Letitia Denny Fairfield, Gerald Hamilton, Frank MacDermot, Herbert O. Mackey, and Alfred Noyes, seek additional detailed information about Casement and efforts to return Casement's remains to Ireland. Other significant correspondents include Neville Braybrook, James H. Hodge, J. W. Lambert, Allen Lane, Harold Macmillan, and Leonard Russell. Correspondents in this series are listed in the Index of Correspondence at the end of this guide.
Series II pertains to Hyde's work on Roger Casement, an Irishman who worked for the British Consulate Service and was hung after being convicted of treason in 1916. Much of the controversy regarding Casement centered around the authenticity of his diaries, which contain many homoerotic passages describing explicit sexual encounters between Casement and other men. A draft of the Trial of Sir Roger Casement is incomplete, however numerous articles and research notes are present, including information from the National Library of Ireland pertaining to the Asquith papers, litigation reports from Scotland Yard (1916), a typed transcript of Casement's 1910 diary, and a draft of the text of Casement's trial. Also found here are reproductions of Casement's legal papers and poetry. Other items present include Hyde's B.B.C. radio script, 1961, and several folders of clippings, 1957 to 1971. Correspondence found here concerns criticisms of Hyde's work on Casement, the return of Casement's remains to Ireland, and authentication of Casement's authorship of the Black Diaries.
Series III contains material for A History of Pornography (1964) including an annotated and corrected typescript. A 1974 note on the title page suggests that this is the only remaining typescript. Also present are two attorney reports and correspondence (including Hyde's responses) discussing the legal ramifications of certain possibly obscene passages in A History of Pornography.
The Oscar Wilde series contains page proofs of The Trials of Oscar Wilde as well as draft front and end matter. Also present are a few essays about Wilde written by Hyde at different times. A number of legal documents concern a disagreement between Warwick Film Productions, Hyde, 20th Century Fox, and others. The bulk of material in this series is correspondence generated by Hyde while researching Wilde. Generally the letters are to Hyde, however quite a number of Hyde's carbon copies are interfiled. Correspondents of note include Vyvyan Holland, Muriel Sherard, and Francis Queensberry. All correspondents in this series are listed in the Index of Correspondence at the end of this guide.
Series V is made up materials collected by Hyde while researching his book Henry James at Home and correspondence generated by its publication. Of particular note is the correspondence between Hyde, Leon Edel, John Cullen, J. Alan White, and the members of the Waterlow family regarding certain accusations of plagiarism lodged by Edel against Hyde. All correspondents in this series are listed in the Index of Correspondence at the end of this guide. A large number of photocopies of James' letters to Alvin Coburn and Violet Hunt are present which may not be reproduced without the permission of the owning libraries.

Related Material

Other materials associated with Hyde include his book collection on the history of pornography, which also includes books on sexuality and obscenity. Other materials may be found in the following manuscript collections at the Ransom Center:
  • Carter, J.
  • Croft-Cooke, Rupert
  • Gogarty, Oliver St. John
  • Hamilton, G.
  • Hopkins, Kenneth
  • Mackenzie, Compton, Sir
  • Wilde, Oscar

Index Terms


Casement, Roger, Sir, 1864-1916.
James, Henry, 1843-1916.
Wilde Oscar, 1854-1900.
Braybrooke, Neville, 1923- .
Cullen, John.
Doyle, Michael Francis.
Edel, Leon, 1907- .
Fairfield, Letitia Denny.
Gulliot de Saix, Leon, 1885- .
Hamilton, Gerald, 1890- .
Hodge, James, (James Hozier), 1906.
Holland, Vyvyan Beresford, 1886-1967.
Lambert, J. W. (Jack Walter), 1917-1986.
Lane, Allen, Sir, 1902-1970.
MacColl, Rene, 1905.
MacDermont, Frank.
Mackey, Herbert O.
Macmillan, Harold, 1894- .
Noyes, Alfred, 1880-1958.
Queensberry, Francis Archibald Kelhead Douglas, 10th Marquis, 1895- .
Russell Leonard, 1906.
Secker, Martin, 1882-1978.
Sherard, Muriel.
Singleton-Gates, Peter.
White, J. Alan.
Wilkinson, Louis, 1881-1966.


Authors, American, 19th century, biography.
Consuls, Great Britain.
Erotic literature, History and criticism.
Homosexuality, Law and legislation, Great Britain.
Nationalists, Ireland.
Obscenity (law), Great Britain.
Sodomy, Great Britain.


Great Britain, Politics and Government.
Lamb House, Sussex.

Document Types

Galley proofs.
Legal documents.

H. Montgomery Hyde--Folder List