Somerville and Ross Manuscript Collection

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

Significant collection of personal and literary papers of Edith Somerville (1858-1949) and Violet Martin (1862-1915) alias Somerville and Ross, Ireland's most celebrated literary partnership. An important and unique collection reflecting the lives, interests and work of the two authors, the Somerville & Ross Papers consist largely of diaries, correspondence, working papers, and draft manuscripts relating to the authors literary activities, personal interests and affairs.

Of the literary papers can be found annotated, handwritten notes and manuscripts relating to numerous publications produced under the Somerville & Ross name, including that of T he Further Experiences of an Irish RM (1908), one of their best known works. Other papers concern the unfinished novel, A Man of the People (c 1897-99) and drafts of Some Irish Yesterdays (1906), Mount Music (1919), The Big House of Inver (1925) and, Somerville's last book, Maria and Some Other Dogs (published 1949). Working notes are also featured and these include an indexed notebook of Irish anecdotes and dialogue compiled by the two writers, c 1886-1945, and various notes on Irish political and cultural affairs, the suffragette movement and Irish agriculture, c 1910-32.

Most notable amongst the personal papers are the extant diaries of both Somerville and Martin and comprehensive series of correspondence from the two writers with friends, relatives and other associates. Of particular significance are the letters between Martin and Lady Augusta Gregory, co-founder of the Abbey Theatre, Dublin, c 1889-1915, and with the artist, William Gorman Wills, c 1885-1890, and Somerville with her brother, Colonel John Somerville, c 1889-1948, and the English Composer and Feminist, Dame Ethel Smyth, c 1918-44. Other interesting items include three notebooks detailing spiritualist sances attended by Somerville, 1930-41, with messages apparently received from Violet Martin and other dead relatives and a number of original illustrations and drawings by Somerville, who, in addition to her literary success enjoyed a good degree of artistic success during her lifetime.

Administrative / Biographical History

Edith Anna Oenone Somerville (1858-1949)Edith Anna Oenone Somerville (1858-1949)Irish novelist and artist. b. Corfu, 1858, family returning to Drishane, Co. Cork in 1859. ed. Alexandra College, Dublin. Studied art in London, Dusseldorf, and Paris after 1884, and became a magazine illustrator. She exhibited later in Dublin, London and New York, 1920-38. In 1886, met her cousin, Violet Martin, with whom she formed the successful literary partnership, Somerville and Ross. Their first book, An Irish Cousin, appeared in 1889, and by Martin's death in 1915 they had published 14 titles together, including The Real Charlotte (1894), Some Experiences of an Irish R.M. (1899) and In Mr Knox's Country (1915). Somerville continued to write and publish as Somerville and Ross despite Martin's untimely death, believing that, through spiritualist sances, the two remained in contact. Subsequent successes included Irish Memories (1917) and The Big House at Inver (1925). In 1903, she became the first woman Master of Foxhounds and from 1912-19, served as Master of the West Carberry Pack. She was awarded an honorary degree from the University of Dublin in 1922 and in 1941 received the Gregory Gold Medal from the Irish Academy of Letters, of which she was a founding member. d. Drishane, 1949.

Publications include: Mount Music (1919); The States through Irish Eyes (1930); An Incorruptible Irishman (1932); The Sweet Cry of Hounds (1936); Sarah's Youth (1938); Maria and Some Other Dogs (1949), and with Violet Martin, An Irish Cousin (1889, re-written, 1903); Naboth's Vineyard (1891); In the Vine Country (1893); Through Connemara in a Governess Cart (1893); The Real Charlotte (1894); Beggars on Horseback (1895); The Silver Fox (1897); Some Experiences of an Irish R.M. (1899); A Patrick's Day Hunt (1902); All on the Irish Shore (1903); Further Experiences of an Irish R.M. (1908); Dan Russell the Fox (1911); In Mr Knox's Country (1915); Irish Memories (1917); The Big House of Inver (1925); French Leave (1928)

[Source: Dictionary of Irish Biography, 1998; Eirdata http://www.pgil-eirdata.org; A Biographical Dictionary of Ireland from 1500, John C. Kinoulty (Unpublished - presented to QUB, 1991; Chambers Biographical Dictionary, 1990]

Violet Florence Martin (1862-1915)Violet Florence Martin (1862-1915)Irish novelist, under the name "Martin Ross" . b. Ross House, Co. Galway, 1862. ed. Alexandra College, Dublin. Spent most of her life at Ross and Drishane in Co. Cork, home of her cousin, Edith Somerville, with whom she formed a successful literary partnership from c 1886. Together they published 14 titles under the name of Somerville and Ross. Their first book, An Irish Cousin, appeared in 1889. This was followed by other notable successes including The Real Charlotte (1894), Some Experiences of an Irish R.M. (1899) and In Mr Knox's Country (1915). Suffered horse-riding accident in 1898 and was in constant pain thereafter, spending her last years as an invalid. d. Cork, 1915.

Publications include: Some Irish Yesterdays (1906); Stray Aways (1920), and with Edith Somerville, An Irish Cousin (1889, re-written, 1903); Naboth's Vineyard (1891); In the Vine Country (1893); Through Connemara in a Governess Cart (1893); The Real Charlotte (1894); Beggars on Horseback (1895); The Silver Fox (1897); Some Experiences of an Irish R.M. (1899); A Patrick's Day Hunt (1902); All on the Irish Shore (1903); Further Experiences of an Irish R.M. (1908); Dan Russell the Fox (1911); In Mr Knox's Country (1915); Irish Memories (1917); The Big House of Inver (1925); French Leave (1928)

[Source: Dictionary of Irish Biography, 1998; Eirdata http://www.pgil-eirdata.org; A Biographical Dictionary of Ireland from 1500, John C. Kinoulty (Unpublished - presented to QUB, 1991; Chambers Biographical Dictionary, 1990]

Conditions Governing Access

Open to consultation

Note

Description compiled by Clare McVeigh (RASCAL Project), entered by Deirdre Wildy, Special Collections

Other Finding Aids

This collection has not been catalogued, but a copy of the auctioneer's catalogue (Sotheby's) highlighting the various purchases made by Queen's is available for consultation in the Special Collections Readiing Room.

Conditions Governing Use

Subject to physical condition of the original and relevant copyright restrictions.

Appraisal Information

Comprehensive collection of literary and personal papers reflecting the lives and work of the popular Irish writers, Somerville and Ross. The collection is notable for including the extant diaries of both Edith Somerville and Violet Ross, for illustrating the collaborative work of the two authors and for including sizable series of late 19th and early 20th century correspondence commenting on the lives and interests of the correspondents in question.

Custodial History

The collection was amassed during the lifetime of both writers, with the papers of Violet Martin passing to Edith Somerville on her death in 1915. The entire collection was then inherited by Sir Patrick Coghill, a nephew of Edith Somerville following her own death in 1949, before being dispersed at auction at Sotheby's in c 1968. Queen's University was the principal purchaser at the sale.

Accruals

Closed

Bibliography

Somerville and Ross: a biography, Maurice Collis (London: Faber and Faber, 1968) Somerville and Ross: a biography, Maurice Collis (London: Faber and Faber, 1968)'The Correspondence of Edith Soomerville and Violet Martin with their literary agent, James B. Pinker, 1896-1922,' Hilary Mary Laurie (MA Thesis, QUB, 1969)'The Correspondence of Edith Soomerville and Violet Martin with their literary agent, James B. Pinker, 1896-1922,' Hilary Mary Laurie (MA Thesis, QUB, 1969)'A Man of the People: an unfinished novel by Somerville and Ross', Frank Ormsby (MA Thesis, QUB, 1971)

Corporate Names

Geographical Names