Papers of Eliza Tabor (Stephenson)

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

The archive consists of papers relating to the life and work of novelist Eliza Tabor. It includes original diaries, photographs, novel manuscripts and correspondence of Eliza Tabor. It also contains a manuscript biography of Tabor by her friend Mary Johnson (1912) and research papers of her biographer Marjorie Broughall (1961).

Administrative / Biographical History

Eliza Tabor (1835-1914) was the author of nineteen novels. She was born in 1835, the daughter of John Tabor, a private school teacher in York, and Mary Holdich. She and her sister Mary Catherine Tabor were educated at home and then became school assistants in the family's establishment. Eliza Tabor published her first works in the early 1850s, a series of articles in the 'British Mothers' Magazine' which were later brought together under the title of 'Woodcroft'. This was followed by one novel, 'All for the Best: The Story of a Quiet Life' which was poorly received and another, 'St Olave', which established her as a novelist. This in turn was followed by another, 'Juanita's Cross', which was the first of a series which had a religious theme. This was a reflection of her theological thinking in the period as, after her father's death, she renounced the family's Methodism along with her mother and sister. However, they remained in contact with many family friends and in particular, the Stephensons of Nottingham. Their son John, who had returned from India as a widower, became engaged to her and the couple were married in Bombay in 1875. They remained in India where Stephenson was a senior chaplain until Eliza Tabor returned home in late 1880 and began to look after her stepchildren from her husband's first marriage as well as helping her mother during her illness. In her new home in Malvern she established a local Ruskin Society to discuss his works and became friends with Arthur Tennyson. She and the children remained there for seven years during which time she began to write for the young, and completed several adult novels. Brief marital problems in 1885 were followed by the death of her mother and the return of her husband in Spring 1886. He accepted the parish of St Thomas' in Toxteth, Liverpool, where the family moved the following year and remained until 1892 when they moved to Boston in Lincolnshire. She no longer published and lived the life of a vicar's wife after this until 1905 when her husband retired due to illness. They both died in 1914.

Arrangement

The majority of Tabor's letters were transferred from this archive to the Autograph Letter Collection in 1974 (ref 9/30). The 2009 arrangement of the archive follows its original order into series of documents created by Eliza Tabor, Mary Johnson and Marjorie Broughall.

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is available for research. Readers are advised to contact The Women's Library in advance of their first visit.

Acquisition Information

Marjorie Broughall, 1970.

Other Finding Aids

The Women's Library Catalogue

Custodial History

The archive was donated by Marjorie Broughall in 1970. Broughall borrowed the archive from historian Roger Fulford in order to research her biography of Eliza Tabor 'Pastel for Eliza' [1961]. She then purchased the archive from Fulford, before donating to the Fawcett Library. The archive is therefore a combination of her own research papers and Tabor's papers (which include the manuscript by Mary Johnson).

Related Material

Tabor's correspondence is held by The Women's Library in the Autograph Letter Collection (Ref: 9/30). A biography of Eliza Tabor - 'Pastel for Eliza' by Margorie Broughall (London: 1961) - is held in The Women's Library Printed Collections Biographies.