Wallas Family Papers

Scope and Content

The archive includes: the personal family papers of Graham Wallas (born 1858), his wife Ada (nee Radford, born 1859) and their daughter May (born 1898), who deposited the papers at Newnham College, where both she and her mother had been students, and she a lecturer from 1945-1962. The papers range from 1841 to 1972, but mainly cover the 1890s to the 1930s. The archive includes hundreds of letters between Ada and Graham Wallas and between them and May. Theirs was a close-knit family, whose correspondence gives an important insight into the domestic and social life of an upper middle-class family on the political left in the first third of the 20th century. Whenever they were apart they wrote to each other almost every day. Of particular interest are the letters from Ada to May when she went up to Newnham in 1917. She wrote frequently and expected to receive at least as many letters back, wanting to know all the details of her daughter's life, and longing be together with her again. (After leaving Newnham, May Wallas continued to live at home with her parents until they died, in 1932 and 1934 respectively.) Ada Wallas also kept detailed diaries of life in London during the First World War. There are many letters to Graham and Ada Wallas from members of their families, and nearly 300 to Ada from her friend Florence Halevy in France, wife of Graham Wallas's friend, historian Elie Halevy. After her parents' death, May devoted much of her life to working on her father's affairs: editing his last book, 'Social Judgment', dealing with scholars and publishers, and then herself undertaking research on his interests and life. The papers concerning her father form a considerable segment of the archive. There are few other papers of May Wallas: poems, degree certificates, and materials concerning her research on Vauvenargues; but nothing from her academic career at the LSE, Newnham College, or the University of Cambridge. There are also family papers and correspondence from the Wallas and Radford families and a small collection of photographs. rs and correspondence from the Wallas and Radford families and a small collection of photographs. a small collection of photographs.

Administrative / Biographical History

May Wallas was born in London on 6 October 1898, the much beloved daughter of Graham Wallas, Professor of Political Science at the London School of Economics, and Ada Radford. She was educated at various day schools in London before coming up to Newnham in 1917. At Cambridge she read French and Italian gaining a first in Part I of the Modern and Mediaeval Languages Tripos and a second in Part II, 1920; she obtained her PhD from the University of London in 1926. The subject of her thesis was the eighteenth century thinker Luc de Clapiers, Marquis de Vauvenargues. Thereafter she taught part-time at Morley College and the London School of Economics before becoming Assistant Lecturer in French and Italian, then Lecturer in French 1937-1945 at the LSE. She returned to Newnham as Lecturer and Director of Studies in Modern Languages 1945 and was also University Lecturer in French at Cambridge from 1945-1962. After her retirement from Newnham she moved back to London. She spent much time editing her father's unfinished works and doing her own research on him. She died in London on 24 November 1972. Graham Wallas, 1858-1932, Professor of Political Science. Graham Wallas was born in Sunderland on 31 May 1858, the elder son of Gilbert Innes Wallas, then curate at Bishopwearmouth, and his wife Frances Talbot Peacock. He was educated at Shrewsbury School and Corpus Christi College, Oxford, where he obtained a second class in Literae Humaniores in 1881. On leaving Oxford he became a classics master but resigned from his post at Highgate School in 1890 as he refused to conform to the religious requirement of taking communion, and later changed from school teaching to university extension lecturing. In 1886 he joined the Fabian Society and contributed to the Fabian Essays on Socialism. However, he resigned in 1904 over the Society's support of Joseph Chamberlain's tariff policy. That same year he was elected to the London County Council where he served a three-year term, and was a non-elected member of London County Council's Education Committee from 1908-1910. Wallas became a lecturer at the recently founded London School of Economics in 1895 and the school's first Professor of Political Science in 1914, a post that he held until his retirement in 1923. In addition to lecturing at the LSE, Wallas lectured in the United States, including at Harvard. He married Ada Radford in 1897, and their daughter May was born in 1898. He died at Portloe, Cornwall, on 9 August 1932. Ada (also known as Audrey), nee Radford, Wallas, 1859-1934. Ada Radford was born in Plymouth on 10 December 1859, the ninth of ten children of George David Radford, draper, and his wife Catherine Heynes. She was educated at Plymouth High School before coming up to Newnham to read maths in 1881. After leaving Newnham she taught at Wimbledon High School for a short time, and later worked for the Free Russia Movement with Stepniak and Volkhovsky. In 1893 she accepted the honorary post of Lady Superintendent at the College for New Women in Bloomsbury, a position she held until December 1895. She married Graham Wallas in 1897 and the following year gave birth to their daughter, May Graham. She served on the Council of Bedford College 1919-1934, and worked for the School of Mothers for many years. She died on 12 October 1934. She died on 12 Oct 1934.


The papers are arranged in 6 Series, with sub-series and files. Series 1: Graham Wallas: 1/1 letters to Ada Wallas 1895-1932; 1/2 letters to May Wallas 1903-1931; 1/3 letters to others; 1/4-5 letters to Graham Wallas from family and friends, including GB Shaw, 1882-1932. Series 2: Ada Wallas (nee Radford): 2/1 diaries 1888-1918; 2/2 letters to Graham Wallas 1904-1931; 2/3 letters to May Wallas 1903-1930; 2/4 letters to others 1892-1927; 2/5-7 letters to Ada Wallas from family and friends 1878-1934; 2/8 articles, reviews, publishers' correspondence [1880s]-1930. Series 3: May Wallas: 3/1 letters to Graham Wallas 1906-1927; 3/2 letters to Ada Wallas 1915-1934; 3/3 letters to May Wallas from family and friends 1916-1971; 3/4 literary and personal papers 1906-1960s. Series 4: May Wallas on Graham Wallas and his work 1932-1972. Series 5: Radford and Wallas family papers 1841-1968. Series 6: Photographs late-19th to mid-20th century

Conditions Governing Access

For access to the Collection, contact the College Archivist, Newnham College, Cambridge.

Acquisition Information

The Wallas Family papers were bequeathed to Newnham College by May Wallas in 1972, the professional papers of her father to the LSE. Personal letters and diaries that had been deposited at the LSE in error were transferred to Newnham in 2004.

Other Finding Aids

A detailed catalogue is available at Newnham College Archives

Archivist's Note

Collection description by Patricia Ackerman, Project Archivist, Newnham College 2005. Submitted to the Archives Hub as part of Genesis 2009 Project.

Conditions Governing Use

Limited photocopying is permitted within the terms of copyright legislation, although copying of some items including fragile material is at the discretion of the College Archivist.

Corporate Names

Geographical Names