Papers of and about Arthur Romney Green

Scope and Content

These papers given by Romney Green's niece's family mainly comprise manuscript, typescript and published works by ARG, largely poetry, literary criticism, mathematics and social commentary, with a little about woodworking and sailing and (among his early writings) the texts of two plays. There are also papers relating to his autobiography and his anthology of literature, including the attempts after his death to have them published, and there are records of tributes to him, 1945-1997, a few photographs of ARG and of the staff of his workshop, and about 40 photographs of furniture and objects made by him. Only a very few letters from ARG survive here: a carbon copy of a letter to Eric Gill, 1933, his autobiographical letters to his daughter Beatrice, and correspondence about his anthology, 1934-1936, and about his autobiography, 1942-1944, including letters to and about the women in his life after the death of Bertha.

Papers relating to his family background include the account by his mother, Maria Heath Curtis, of her family (medical practitioners in Alton, Hampshire), transcripts by her of letters from ARG's father, Frederic Green, and the texts of three articles by Frederic Green. There is also information about ARG's brother, the architect William Curtis Green, including genealogical material about Curtis Green's first wife, Cicely Dillworth Lloyd, and their descendants.

Administrative / Biographical History

Arthur Romney Green was born in Wandsworth on 16 February 1872. His parents were both Quakers, his father, Frederic Green, a barrister, and his mother, Maria Heath Curtis, a member of an old-established family of medical practitioners in Alton in Hampshire. Frederic died when ARG was only 10 years old, and the family lived in straightened circumstances. ARG was able to study mathematics at Cambridge University, but graduated with only a third-class degree. He was a prolific writer, and would have liked to dedicate his life to poetry, but he realised that he would have to earn a living, and trained in chemistry and physics at Mason College, Birmingham.

He taught in South Africa for three years, but was already crafting boats and furniture, and returned to England in 1900 to set up a workshop, first in Bosham on the Sussex coast, moving in 1902 to Haslemere in Surrey. He applied to his woodworking the mathematical principles he had learned.

He continued to teach in a variety of milieux, including teaching mathematics at St George's Wood School for Girls, and private tutoring. During the depression of the 1930s he taught woodworking skills in workshops for the unemployed organised by the Rural Industries Bureau.

He joined the Independent Labour Party, and established an active branch in Haslemere.

ARG married in 1897 Florence Emma Garman, and their daughter Beatrice was born in 1901. In Haslemere ARG and his wife met Harold and Bertha Murray, and Bertha was to be the love of ARG's life. He left his family in 1909, and he and Bertha set up home initially in Strand-on-the-Green in London, moving in 1919 to Christchurch. Florence refused a divorce for many years, and ARG could only marry Bertha in 1928.

He had numerous works of poetry and social commentary published, as well as articles about woodworking and sailing. He put together an anthology of his favourite poetry, but could not get it published during the 1930s, and he also wrote an autobiography. His niece and executor, Joan Yeo-Marsh, succeeded in having the poetry published ( A Craftsman's Anthology , Allen & Unwin 1948), but the autobiography, despite her editing, did not succeed in finding a publisher and the typescript is now in the National Art Library in the Victoria and Albert Museum (file 86W67).

Bertha died on 23 October 1942 after a long illness. ARG died on 21 February 1945 from head injuries sustained in a road traffic accident.


  • ARG/1 Green and Curtis family papers
  • ARG/2 Early writings
  • ARG/3 Poetry and literary criticism
  • ARG/4 Other manuscripts and typescripts
  • ARG/5 Published articles
  • ARG/6 Autobiography and 'A Craftsman's Anthology'
  • ARG/7 Photographs and sketches of ARG
  • ARG/8 Photographs and correspondence re furniture and objects
  • ARG/9 Arrangements after the death of ARG
  • ARG/10 Tributes and commemorations
  • ARG/11 Notes and tables re the family of William Curtis Green's wife Cicely Dillworth Lloyd

Access Information

Archive material may be viewed by appointment only.


This entry was compiled by Shirley Dixon, Crafts Study Centre Archivist, May 2020.

Other Finding Aids

Catalogue on Crafts Study Centre database. A pdf copy is available on request.

Conditions Governing Use

Written permission must be sought before any archival material is published.

Appraisal Information

None timetabled.


None expected.


Elkin, Susan, Life to the Lees: A Biography of Arthur Romney Green, Furniture Maker, Boat Builder, Writer, Teacher, Poet, Yachtsman, Social Reformer, Mathematician , 1998.