Corrected proof and published copies of Janko Lavrin's 'Studies in European Literature', formerly owned by Jessie Chambers and John R. Wood; 1929

Scope and Content

The collection consists of two copies of Lavrin's book 'Studies in European Literature' (London: Constable and Son, 1929), both formerly owned by Jessie Chambers and her husband John R. Wood:

First edition, uncorrected proof copy, in binder's cloth; the spine is faded but the copy is good; it contains four minor editorial corrections on pages 104, 131, 157 and 208; the volume is revised throughout by the author with numerous holographic alterations and corrections in red ink, appearing on about 150 of the 222 pages; the volume is inscribed 'To Mr and Mrs Wood with the author's compliments. Nottingham Nov. 1929' and bears the memorial bookplate 'From the library of Jessie Chambers (the original of Miriam in Sons and Lovers by D.H. Lawrence) and her husband John R. Wood'. (MS 806/1);

First edition published volume, in dust-wrapper; the text apparently incorporating all of Lavrin's changes; with the same memorial bookplate; the volume is inscribed with the signature 'J Wood'. (MS 806/2).

Administrative / Biographical History

Janko Lavrin (1887-1986) was born in Krupa, Bela Krajina, Slovenia. He left Slovenia in 1908 for St Petersburg where he studied the Russian language and Russian literature, and became a publisher and writer. He served as war correspondent with the Serbian army on its retreat through Albania in 1915-16 for the newspaper 'Novoye vremya' (The New Age).

Called back to Petrograd in the summer of 1917, he broke his journey in London, where he chose to remain following the outbreak of revolution in Russia. He was appointed a lecturer in Russian at University College Nottingham in 1918 and became Professor of Slavonic Studies in the 1920-21 session. In the inter-war years, Lavrin published many books and articles on Russian and European literature. In the session 1941-42, he resigned his post at University College Nottingham to join the Editorial Board of European Broadcasts of the BBC and, during the war, he broadcast regularly to occupied Europe. In 1944-45, he returned to University College as head of the Slavonic Studies department on a part-time basis and in 1948-49, when the College became The University of Nottingham, he received an ex-officio Master of Arts. Lavrin retired from the University in 1952 but continued as a translator, writer on Russian literature, and remained active in the academic field of Slavonic Studies. He died in London on 13 August 1986.

Lavrin's principal works are: 'Tolstoy: a psycho-critical study' (London, 1922), 'Studies in European Literature' (London, 1929), 'Aspects of Modernism: from Wilde to Pirandello' (London, 1935), 'An Introduction to the Russian Novel' (New York and London, 1943), 'Dostoevsky: a study' (New York, 1943), 'Tolstoy: an approach' (London, 1948), 'From Pushkin to Mayakovsky: a study in the evolution of literature' (London, 1948), 'Nickolai Gogol' (London, 1951), and 'Groncharov' (Cambridge, 1954).

While at Nottingham, Lavrin and his wife Nora (née Fry, 1895-1985), a distinguished artist and book illustrator, made the acquaintance of Jessie Wood, née Chambers. Jessie was a member of the Chambers family of Haggs Farm, Underwood near Selston, Nottinghamshire, and a childhood friend of D.H. Lawrence. She served as the prototype for 'Miriam' in Lawrence's novel 'Sons and Lovers'. She married John R. Wood in 1915. Nora painted Jessie's portrait, and Janko taught her Russian, an interest already evident in her teens, when she and Lawrence read Tolstoy and Dostoevsky together.


No archival arrangement has been necessary

Conditions Governing Access

Accessible to all readers.

Other Finding Aids

This description is the only finding aid available for the collection. Copyright in the description belongs to The University of Nottingham.

Physical Characteristics and/or Technical Requirements


Conditions Governing Use

Identification of copyright holders of unpublished material is often difficult.

Permission to make any published use of any material from the collection must be sought in writing from the Keeper of Manuscripts and Special Collections

Reprographic copies can be supplied for educational and private study purposes only, depending on access status and the condition of the documents.

Custodial History

The items were acquired by Manuscripts and Special Collections, The University of Nottingham, in January 2007.