Rosalind Williams to William Plomer

Scope and Content

Rosalind Williams, later Dobbs (1865-1949) was a one-time friend of George Gissing and the youngest of nine daughters of Richard Potter and a sister of Beatrice Webb, the social reformer and diarist.

The material comprises two letters from Rosalind Williams to William Plomer (1903-1973), poet and novelist; autograph manuscripts by Williams on George Gissing and H.G. Wells; a copy letter from James Paterson to Rosalind Dobbs; and a transcription of Williams's account of Gissing.

For correspondence relating to the acquisition of this material by Chris Kohler see GRG/2/1/9  above.

  • /1: Autograph letter from Rosalind Williams (later Dodds) to William Plomer, dated 8 March 1946. Willliams writes: Having read your most interesting & sympathetic account of George Gissing in the New Statesman of Feb 24th. I am wondering if you would care to see an account of George Gissing & H.G. Wells I have copied out from the diary of a friend of mine (could have typed) who met them in Rome in the Spring of 1898 & subsequently became a great friend & admirer of Gissings. The friend mentioned here is Rosalind Williams herself. The letter is signed RW;
  • /2: Autograph letter from Rosalind Williams to William Plomer, n.d. [March 1946], regarding her accounts of Gissing and Wells: I am sending you a very intimate account of him [Gissing] written by one who cared for & admired him greatly but whose name & identity must not be divulged at any rate for the present... I also add a shorter account of H.G. Wells which of course will be libellous if published;
  • /3: Autograph manuscript by Rosalind Williams on George Gissing: Gissing was a very different type of man. Broad shouldered and powerfully made he had a leonine head and a profusion of reddish brown hair which surmounted his broad forehead. His sad rather weary looking eyes deep set under prominent eyebrows seemed to gaze with pity on all the sorrows of the world and mankind. But the singular sweetness of his mouth belied the tragic bitterness of his eyes. He talked in a low melodious voice often fast and eagerly then relapsed into silence and became absorbed in a brooding melancholy. (6 sheets);
  • /4: Autograph manuscript by Rosalind Williams on H.G. Wells;
  • /5: Copy typescript letter from James Paterson to Mrs Rosalind Dobbs, dated 26 September 1946, thanking her for sending her memoir of Gissing and Wells and outlining the facts of Gissing's two marriages and his relationship with Gabriel Fleury. He goes on to ask permission to quote from the memoir on his forthcoming book on Gissing, which was never published (13 sheets);
  • /6: Transcription of Williams's account of Gissing, n.d. (7 sheets);
  • /7: Envelope with a pencil note bought from William Plomer Autumn 1971.


References to Rosalind Williams can be found in P.F. Mattheisen, et al., The collected letters of George Gissing, volume seven, 1897-1899 (Athens, Ohio: Ohio University Press, 1990) .