Papers of and relating to Marc André Raffalovich

Scope and Content

This collection consists of 26 letters and one telegram from André Raffalovich to Rachel Annand Taylor, poet and literary scholar; 53 letters written to André Raffalovich from correspondents including Lucien Daudet, a French writer, Henry Havelock Ellis, writer and sexologist, Edward Burne-Jones, painter, John Galsworthy, writer and Rachilde, writer; three letters to Florence Gribbell; seven letters to and one letter of introduction concerning Marie Raffalovich, authors including Ernest Renan, a French writer; one letter to Sophie O'Brien and one printed photograph of André Raffalovich as a young man. The letters form a small part of what was evidently a large and wide-ranging network of correspondents.

The letters are mainly social in nature, regarding visits, social dining and mutual friendships. Raffalovich's own literary works and the works of his friends are touched upon. Some of the letters were written during the First World War and refer to the circumstances of Raffalovich's friends.

Administrative / Biographical History

Marc André Raffalovich was born on 11 September 1864 in Paris, the son of Herman and Marie Raffalovich, who had migrated to Paris the previous year from Odessa in Russia. Herman was a Jewish banker, who (unlike his brother) preferred to leave Russia than forcibly convert to Christianity under a new decree. Herman (d.1893) became an internationally renowned banker in Paris, whilst Marie (1832-1921), a beautiful and highly intelligent woman who spoke eight languages, established a successful salon attracting people such as the actress Sarah Bernhardt, writer Ernest Renan and writer Robert Louis Stevenson. Both Herman and Marie were philanthropists.

André was their youngest child. His brother Arthur (d.1921) became an eminent economist, working for the Russian Embassy in Paris. Their sister Sophie (1860-1960) married the Irish nationalist politician, William O’Brien (1852-1928), in 1890. Sophie published many works including a translation of Morley’s Life of Richard Cobden.

In 1882, aged eighteen, Raffalovich moved to London with his governess Miss Florence Truscott Gribbell (c.1842-1930), with the intention of studying at the University of Oxford. Instead, he settled at 72, South Audley Street with the intention of setting up a salon. Unlike his mother, he was not entirely successful. It was during his time in London that he was introduced to the poet and writer John Henry Gray (1866–1934), through Arthur William Symons (1865–1945), literary scholar and author. They were to remain close friends and companions throughout the next forty years, dying within months of each other.

Raffalovich was a prolific writer: his works include poetry, novels, plays and intellectual treatises. Raffalovich’s novels include A Willing Exile (1891) and Self Seekers: a Novel of Manners (1897). His collections of poems include Cyril and Lionel and Other Poems: A Volume of Sentimental Studies (1884), Tuberose and Meadowsweet (1885), In Fancy Dress (1886) and It Is Thyself (1889). His plays included Roses of Shadow (1893), Black Sheep and The Blackmailers (1894) and A Northern Aspect and The Ambush of Young Days written with John Gray in 1895. In 1896 Raffalovich published Uranisme et Unisexualité, a work on homosexuality, which included his essay ‘l’Affaire Oscar Wilde’.

In 1896, following the example of Sophie, Gribbell and Gray, Raffalovich converted to Catholicism, being baptised at the Jesuit Church in Mayfair. He became a Dominican tertiary in 1898, taking the middle name Sebastian, often signing his name as André Sebastian Raffalovich. He became an outstanding benefactor to the order, paying for a church at Pendleton, Manchester, dedicated to St Sebastian. Raffalovich also contributed to the building of a new church on Eriskay in the Hebrides.

During the 1890s, Raffalovich rented a house at Weybridge in Surrey. In 1905, after Gray (who had been ordained as a Catholic priest in 1901), was appointed to the parish of St Patrick in Edinburgh, Raffalovich settled in Edinburgh, purchasing No. 9, Whitehouse Terrace. Faithful Miss Gribbell (who died in 1930 aged 88 years) accompanied him. There, he greatly contributed to the cost of the building of St Peter's church in Edinburgh, designed by Sir Robert Lorimer. Gray was appointed the first rector of St Peter's. In Whitehouse Terrace, Raffalovich established a successful salon. His guests included writer Henry James, poet Lady Margaret Sackville, writer Compton Mackenzie and artist Hubert Wellington. Another close friend was Eric Gill, the sculptor. In Edinburgh Raffalovich pursued his interest in flowers and his extensive library. Raffalovich died in Edinburgh on 14 February 1934.


The archive had been arranged into six series by earlier library staff, who produced a simple finding aid: this arrangement, which roughly mirrors the provenance of the papers, has been maintained in this catalogue. Thus letters from Raffalovich are separated from those addressed to him. Letters to Raffalovich have been ordered by author and then by chronological order where possible. Letters concerning other members of Raffalovich's family and household have been divided according to recipient, again listed alphabetically by the author's name and then chronologically.

Access Information

The collection is open to any accredited reader.

Acquisition Information

The archive was acquired in a number of different batches by Manchester University Library prior to the merger in 1972.

Conditions Governing Use

Photocopies and photographic copies of material in the archive can be supplied for private study purposes only, depending on the condition of the documents.

A number of items within the archive remain within copyright under the terms of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988; it is the responsibility of users to obtain the copyright holder's permission for reproduction of copyright material for purposes other than research or private study.

Prior written permission must be obtained from the Library for publication or reproduction of any material within the archive. Please contact the Head of Special Collections, 150 Deansgate, Manchester, M3 3EH.

Custodial History

The archival history of these papers is uncertain. Raffalovich's letters appear to have been dispersed after his death. After being acquired by Manchester University Library in the 1960s, they moved to the John Rylands University Library Special Collections after the merger in 1972.

Related Material

The Library also holds a collection of papers relating to John Gray (1866-1934), (GB 133 JHG).

Other papers related to Raffalovich can be found in The National Library of Scotland, Manuscript Collections, which include correspondence between John Gray and André Raffalovich.

The Victoria and Albert Museum, The National Art Gallery holds a collection of letters by Raffalovich.

The University of Texas at Austin: Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center Library, in the United States, also holds a collection of letters from André Raffalovich in the Aubrey Beardsley Collection (1893-1959).

The Blackfriars Library, Oxford University, hold letters from George Tyrrell (1861-1909), theologian, to Raffalovich.

For material relating to Sophie O'Brien (née Raffalovich), see collection of her personal papers in Cork City and County Archives, Republic of Ireland.


Brocard Sewell, Footnote to the Nineties: A Memoir of John Gray and André Raffalovich (London: Woolf, 1968).

Brocard Sewell, Two Friends: John Gray and André Raffalovich (Aylesford: Saint Albert's Press, 1963).

Frederick S. Roden, ‘Marc-Andre Raffalovich: A Russian-French-Jewish-Catholic Homosexual in Oscar Wilde’s London’, in Frederick S. Roden (ed.), Jewish/Christian/Queer (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2009).

Frederick Rolfe and Others, A Miscellany of Essays on John Gray, Henry Williamson, Ronald Firbank, André Raffalovich and Frederick Baron Corvo (Aylesford: St Albert's Press, 1961).

Oxford Dictionary of National Biography ( [accessed 17 Jan 2011]).

Literature Online ( [accessed 17 Jan 2011]).

The Artcyclopedia ( [accessed 17 Jan 2011]).