Helen Frances Grant: Correspondence and Papers

Scope and Content

I. Testimonials

References for Helen Grant from Murray Baillie, Sir Michael McDonnell, Sara Margery Fry, Mildred K. Pope, H. Thomas, George A. Kolkhorst, S[alvador] de Madariaga, and Enid Starkie, 1925-1936, with a C.V. [1931].

II. Spanish Civil War

'Spain', report by Grant of a tour of the country by a party 'sent out under the auspices of the Society of Friends to examine the work for refugees, in order to be able to speak at meetings on our return to raise funds for the relief work'. 25 Mar. - 18 Apr. 1937, typescript, with corrections (78 folios).

III. Spain

Miscellaneous papers on Spain and Spanish affairs, prepared or collected by Grant, 1929 - c. 1945, around 450 pages.

IV. Wartime Spain

Reports and related papers prepared or collected by Grant, some produced by staff at the Foreign Research and Press Service, Balliol College, Oxford/Chatham House, later the Foreign Office Research Department, Whitehall, c. 1938-1945, around 420 pages.


Papers and correspondence regarding Grant's service in the Overseas Division/Spanish Section of the B.B.C., 1941-1945, 178 pages.

VI. Correspondence: General Series

364 items, covering 1926-c. 1974.

VII. Correspondence with Jorge Guillen

33 items, 1950-1985, mainly in Spanish.

VIII. Death of J.B. Trend

28 items of correspondence, 1954-1960, and associated papers, c. 1958-1960.

IX. Miscellaneous Papers

18 sets of papers, c. 1928-1960.

Administrative / Biographical History

Helen Frances Newsome (1903-1992) was born in Clifton in 1903. After spending some years in secretarial work, including a short spell in the employ of the author and poet Walter de la Mare, she read French amd Spanish at Somerville College, Oxford, graduating in 1930. She married the economist Alec T.K. Grant in the same year.

During the 1930s Grant combined an assistant-lectureship in Spanish at the University of Birmingham with tutorial work for Somerville and St Hilda's Colleges in Oxford. She made several visits to Spain, including one at the height of the Civil War. On the outbreak of World War II Grant joined the Foreign Research and Press Service, based at Balliol College, Oxford. She transferred to the BBC's Spanish Service in 1941. Although she enjoyed her work at Broadcasting House, Grant found it difficult to reconcile official respect for Spanish neutrality with her own dislike of the Franco regime. Her open political sympathies - she was a life-long socialist - and a very public disagreement with her superiors led to her dismissal from the Corporation soon after the War ended.

J.B. Trend, Fellow of Christ's College and a Professor of Spanish at Cambridge University, was an admirer of Grant's academic work, and secured her appointment to a Spanish Lectureship at Cambridge from early 1946. A Girton College Fellowship followed eight years later. Grant retired in 1971.

Access Information

Letters in Section VI: General Correspondence, are restricted for fifty years from their receipt in the Library. The rest of the collection is open for consultation by holders of a Reader's Ticket valid for the Manuscripts Reading Room.

Acquisition Information

Presented by Helen Grant, 1979.


Description compiled by Robert Steiner, Department of Manuscripts and University Archives.

Other Finding Aids

Additional Manuscripts Catalogue.


Geographical Names