Letters to the Sixsmiths from Edward Carpenter and George Merrill

Scope and Content

This class contains letters sent to Charles F. Sixsmith by Edward Carpenter over an extended period, dating from the time of their earliest acquaintance to two years before Carpenter's death. Also included are some letters to Sixsmith's wife, Lucy, whom he married in 1908, and some letters written by Carpenter's partner, George Merrill, which Sixsmith clearly kept with his letters from Carpenter.

Most of the letters are short, but topics covered are varied and include: frequent arrangements for visits between the correspondents; holiday plans; mutual friends, including those who shared an interest in literature, socialism, and humanitarian issues; literature, including Carpenter's own writings, Whitman and the Bolton Whitman group; Carpenter's activities, both personal and professional, including trips undertaken with George Hukin and George Merrill, and various lecture tours; visits from well-known figures such as Ben Iden Payne, Granville Barker, and Henry S. Salt; politics, in particular the Labour movement; and personal matters such as family news.

It seems unlikely that all of Carpenter's letters to Sixsmith survive here; there is a paucity of letters from certain years, yet there is no obvious loss of familiarity between the men when correspondence resumes.


The correspondence appears to have had two different classification schemes applied to it in the past. The letters were stored in bundles marked A-D, and within these divided into smaller bundles, which followed two different numbering sequences. The rationale behind this arrangement is unclear. Although in a very rough chronological order by year, within each year some of the letters were in chronological order, some in reverse chronological order, and others in no apparent order at all. In addition, some of the letters were loose and part of no classification system. The letters have now been arranged into chronological bundles to reflect the order in which they would have been received by Sixsmith. All former references are noted: the first element reflects the larger alphabetical bundle in which the letter was placed, and the last two elements denote the two different numbering systems applied to each smaller bundle, eg. A/2/4.

Sixsmith appears to have kept all these letters together, although some were sent jointly by Carpenter and Merrill, some come from Merrill alone, and some are addressed to Lucy Sixsmith. The letters are therefore not divided according to writer or recipient.

Where letters are undated, the date has been ascertained by other available evidence, such as contents and postmark. Undateable letters are listed together under 1171/1/21. The place of dating and the place of direction are stated where this information is included.

All letters consist of one sheet of paper only unless stated otherwise.