The Masterman Papers

Scope and Content

The collection comprises letters, manuscripts and printed material relating to Charles Masterman; his wife Lucy (ne Lyttelton); their children and their families; and many Masterman, Lyttelton and Stuart-Wortley relatives. Topics and people covered in the letters include Charles Masterman's political career and political events, 1907-27; Charles and Lucy Masterman's literary work; family matters, particularly the Masterman children and family finances; Masterman and Lyttelton relatives; political and literary friends.

All aspects of Masterman's life and career are represented in the collection from his school days at Weymouth College to his early death in 1927, particularly his work as an MP and government minister (1906-15) and his writings and journalism. The material includes memoirs written by his mother and other members of the Masterman family; volumes of letters from school friends; school and university notebooks; letters to his wife Lucy before and after their marriage (some written during House of Commons debates); a diary written in 1901, when he was living in Camberwell; correspondence with politicians (Herbert Asquith, David Lloyd George, Winston Churchill, Sir Edward Grey, W H Beveridge, Herbert Samuel, Augustine Birrel to name but a few) and writers, including John Buchan, Arnold Bennett, H G Wells and Ford Madox Ford; printed and typescript papers - many annotated by Masterman - relating to the work of government departments (including the Home Office, the National Health Insurance Commission, the Cabinet and Wellington House) and to the work of the Liberal Party (including the Liberal Land Enquiry and the Liberal Industrial Enquiry); and notes for political speeches. The collection also includes manuscripts, typescripts, proofs and printed copies of some of Masterman's books and many of his periodicals and newspaper contributions.

Included in the archive are letters which Lucy wrote to her husband between 1907 and 1927; letters to her parents and sisters; correspondence concerning the fate of individual refugees in Britain, 1939-45; copies of the diaries, which she kept between 1908 and 1913, when Charles was a member of Asquith's governments, as well as other memoirs; manuscript, typescripts, proofs and printed copies of her poems, articles and book reviews; background material and drafts of her biography of Charles Masterman; also drafts of a number of other unpublished literary works.

Administrative / Biographical History

Charles Masterman (1873-1927) was a Liberal politician, who served as a Member of Parliament from 1906 to 1914 and again from 1923 to 1924. He held a series of government posts between 1908 and 1915 and played an important part in the preparation and implementation of the National Insurance Act of 1911 and in the organisation of British government propaganda during World War I. He was a prolific writer, publishing a number of books and contributing articles and reviews to newspapers and periodicals of the time.

Lucy Masterman, Charles's wife, (1884-1977), was the daughter of General Sir Neville Lyttelton and Lady Katherine (ne Stuart-Wortley). Before her marriage, Lucy had already earned a reputation as a poet. During her lifetime she published several volumes of verse, as well as contributing poetry, reviews and historical articles to newspapers and magazines over a period of 60 years. Her major literary work was her biography of Charles Masterman, published in 1939. After the death of her husband, Lucy continued to lead an energetic political life. She fought the Salisbury seat for the Liberal party unsuccessfully in the 1929 and 1931 General Elections and maintained an active correspondence with Liberal politicians until the 1970s. She had many interests, particularly the role of women, the plight of World War II refugees and prison reform.

Reference: Finding aid to the Masterman Papers


The collection is arranged in chronological order.

Access Information

Open. Access to all registered researchers.

Acquisition Information

The Masterman Papers were purchased by the University Library (through Sotheby's) from the Masterman family in 1985.

Other Finding Aids

Please see online catalogue for further information

Alternative Form Available

Prior to the University Library acquiring the collection, a few original letters written by prominent politicians and literary figures of the early 20th century had been sold separately. Photocopies of these letters are included in the University Library's collection

Conditions Governing Use

Permission to make any published use of any material from the collection must be sought in advance in writing from the University Archivist, Special Collections. Identification of copyright holders of unpublished material is often difficult. Special Collections will assist where possible with identifying copyright owners, but responsibility for ensuring copyright clearance rests with the user of the material.