Papers of Mary Eliza Haweis and family

  • This material is held at
  • Reference
      GB 106 7MEH
  • Dates of Creation
  • Language of Material
  • Physical Description
      3 A boxes

Scope and Content

The archive consists of the papers of Mary Eliza Haweis and family. It includes:

* Original correspondence and papers

45 original family letters, 1857-1961, including between Hugh Reginald Haweis and his parents, Mary Eliza Haweis and her husband, children and aunt; c. 25 drawings and poems by Mary Eliza Joy before her marriage, including designs for her monogram; Haweis family memorabilia.

* Bound volumes containing typescript transcriptions of letters and other writings from the period 1856 to 1900, collated by her son, Lionel Haweis, 1931-1941. The volumes also contain a small amount of original material, e.g. press cuttings, printed ephemera and letters. The commentary and annotations provided by Mary's sons Lionel and Stephen make these volumes more than mere copies, providing contextual personal information about their family life.

The records document Mary's childhood and her relationship with her unfaithful husband and her family. Although the collection does not contain many references to Mary's work or publications it provides an interesting insight into the private and domestic life of one of the key female figures in the development of interior design.

Administrative / Biographical History

Mary Eliza Haweis née Joy (1848-1898) was the eldest daughter of the Victorian portrait artist Thomas Musgrove Joy and his wife Eliza. She herself painted and exhibited. She illustrated books, designed book covers and many of her woodcuts appeared in Cassell's magazine. However, she is best known as an important figure in the female literature of household taste that flourished in the 1880s, her most famous work being The Art of Decoration (1881). She wrote several books and also contributed widely to contemporary women's magazines, mostly on women's clothes and interior design. In 1867, aged 19, she married Hugh Reginald Haweis (1838-1901), popular preacher, musician, lecturer and incumbent of St James, Marylebone. The couple lived in Welbeck Street and later in Cheyne Walk, Chelsea, at the centre of an intellectual, scientific and literary circle. The marriage was a difficult one, with her husband's extra-marital affairs causing pain to Mary Eliza. They had three children Lionel (b. 1878), Hugolin and Stephen (who was delivered by the female doctor Elizabeth Garrett Anderson). Mary died in 1898.

Access Information

This collection is available for research. Readers are advised to contact The Women's Library in advance of their first visit.

Acquisition Information

Purchased in 2001 with the generous support of The Friends of The Women's Library.

Other Finding Aids

The Women's Library Catalogue

Custodial History

These papers were brought together by Bea Howe during research for her biography of Mary Eliza Haweis, Arbiter of Elegance, published in 1967.

Related Material

The Women's Library Printed Collections holds publications by Mary Eliza Haweis. Further papers of Mary Eliza Haweis and family, including originals of many of the transcribed letters and over 1,250 family photographs, are held at the library of the University of British Columbia where Lionel Haweis was on the staff from 1918-1939. Papers of Hugh Reginald Haweis, including correspondence with AC Tait, are held at Lambeth Palace Library, his letters to Lord and Lady Wolseley are held at Hove Central Library and further general correspondence is held at Boston Public Library.

Location of Originals

Originals of many of the transcribed letters are held at the library of the University of British Columbia.