Papers and Correspondence of Charles Sarolea (1870-1953)

Scope and Content

The Sarolea collection has been preserved in 234 numbered files in 81 boxes. The collection covers the years 1897-1952 and relate to all of the Professor's various activities and interests. For convenience, it can be divided into four main divisions. Firstly, there are the Everyman papers relating to the weekly literary journal Everyman, his life, work and books with which Sarolea had an interest from 1914,. Within the Everyman division there are editorial papers dated from 1912 and 1916, and business archives between 1912 and 1917. The editorial papers consist of correspondence between Sarolea and contributors to Everyman and manuscripts of articles offered for publication, while the business archives comprise the correspondence of publisher J.M. Dent, financial and legal papers, matters relating to advertising and printing, many letters of appreciation and criticism, and a number of competition essays. Secondly, there are papers relating to Edinburgh University. These consist of correspondence with the Principal on six public lectures delivered by Sarolea in 1917; correspondence and papers on general University administrative matters between 1919 and 1930; correspondence and papers relating to the work of the French Department between 1911 and 1936; and, correspondence relating to Sarolea's retirement and pension, 1923-52. Thirdly, there are writings by Sarolea. Spanning the years 1911 and 1950, these are papers, mostly typescript with some autograph corrections, comprising drafts of books or parts of books, articles for journals and newspapers, university lectures, addresses at meetings, contributions to public debates, and radio talks. Fourthly, there are miscellaneous papers and correspondence. This division is itself subdivided into four main groups. There is general correspondence from 1897 to 1952 and including family papers; correspondence with publishers, 1909-43; correspondence with individual persons or organisations, 1919-46; correspondence and papers relating to foreign countries and including Sarolea's relations with the Belgian royal family, and Belgian consular correspondence. This latter group also includes correspondence relating to the then Czechoslovakia, between the years 1919 and 1942 and there are letters from Eduard Benes and Jan Masaryk

Administrative / Biographical History

Charles Sarolea was born in Tongres in the Belgian province of Limbourg on 25 October 1870. He was educated at the University of Liege. In 1894 he was appointed to the newly-founded Lectureship in French at Edinburgh University and in 1918 he became the University's first Professor of French. He held the Chair of French and Romance Philology until his resignation in1931. University teaching had only been part of his career, for Sarolea was also a linguist, claiming a knowledge of at least eighteen languages, and also a bookman and author. His book collection of some 200,000 works was said to be the largest private library in Europe. His own authorship covered political, philosophical and literary subjects and included The Anglo-German problem (1912), Europe's debt to Russia (1916), Europe and the League of Nations (1919), and Daylight on Spain (1938). Sarolea became a naturalised citizen of the UK in November 1912, but for over 50 years he represented Belgium as its Consul, latterly Consul-General, in Edinburgh. French scholarship probably owes an important debt to Sarolea. He held honorary degrees from the Universities of Brussels, Montreal, and Cleveland, and received the Belgian award, Chevalier of the Belgian Order of Leopold. He died in Edinburgh on 11 March 1953.

Access Information

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Acquisition Information

The papers and correspondence of Professor Charles Sarolea were purchased for in 1954.

Other Finding Aids

Handlist, H15; Another important finding aid is the alphabetical Index to Manuscripts held at Edinburgh University Library, Special Collections and Archives. Additions to the typed slips in sheaf binders were made until 1987.

Related Material

The Index to Manuscripts shows Sarolea lectures on French literature taken down by a W.S. Mitchell, at Gen. 784/2.

Corporate Names