University of Chicago Library

Guide to the Edith Rickert Papers 1883-1960

© 2006 University of Chicago Library


Descriptive Summary


Rickert, Edith. Papers




5.5 linear feet (11 boxes)


Special Collections Research Center, University of Chicago Library
1100 East 57th Street
Chicago, Illinois 60637 U.S.A.


The papers of Edith Rickert, Professor of English at the University of Chicago (1924-1935), include correspondence; notebooks and journals; manuscripts of unpublished novels; manuscripts and offprints of short stories, poems, and articles; biographical clippings; and memorabilia and photographs. For the most part, the papers date from the period before 1924, and are concentrated in the ten years (1900-1910) when Rickert was best known as a writer of fiction.

Information on Use


No restrictions.


When quoting material from this collection, the preferred citation is: Rickert, Edith. Papers, [Box #, Folder #], Special Collections Research Center, University of Chicago Library

Biographical Note

Edith Rickert was born in Canal Dover, Ohio, in 1871. She received an A.B. from Vassar College in 1891 and a Ph.D. in English from the University of Chicago in 1899. From 1897 to 1900, while completing her dissertation, a study of the Middle English romance Emare, she returned to Vassar as an instructor in English.

In 1900, Rickert left the United States for nine years of study, travel, and writing in England and on the Continent. During this period of her life, she edited several medieval texts, prepared translations of medieval literature, published five novels including The Reaper (1904), Folly (1906), and The Golden Hawk (1907), and wrote more than eighty short stories, fifty of which were published in British and American magazines. In 1909, Rickert returned to the United States and settled in Boston, where for several years she was an editor with D. C. Heath and the Ladies' Home Journal. With the onset of American involvement in World War I, she moved to Washington, D.C. and assumed a position as cryptographer in the War Department, working with John Matthews Manly, a Professor of English at the University of Chicago who had taken a leave of absence to serve as a captain in the military intelligence section. After the War, Rickert and Manly collaborated on The Writing of English (1919), Contemporary British Literature (1921), Contemporary American Literature (1922), and several other popular textbooks. In 1924, Rickert joined the faculty of the University of Chicago as Associate Professor of English; she was appointed Professor of English in 1930 and remained on the faculty until her retirement in 1935.

Rickert's career at the University was devoted largely to the extensive project undertaken with Manly to compile a definitive critical edition of the Canterbury Tales. Beginning in 1930, Rickert and Manly spent part of each year in England tracing manuscripts of the Tales, researching the details of Chaucer's life, and supervising a staff of workers employed at the Public Records Office in London. The remainder of each year was spent in Chicago, where Rickert taught courses in medieval and modern literature and continued her professional publications, the most notable of which was New Methods for the Study of Literature (1927). She also completed three volumes of children's stories and a final novel, Severn Woods (1930).

Rickert died in Chicago in 1938. The eight-volume product of her long association with Manly, The Text of the Canterbury Tales, appeared in its final form in 1940, several months before Manly's own death. Rickert's anthology of material illustrating fourteenth-century English life, Chaucer's World, was edited by two former students and published in 1948.

Scope Note


This series consists of chronologically arranged correspondence. For the most part, the correspondence is personal, although a few letters from publishers are included. The earliest letters were exchanged between Edith Rickert and her parents while she was a student at Vassar College. Among her later correspondents, the most important were Frederick James Furnivall, the English philologist and founder of the Chaucer Society, and John Burroughs, the American writer and naturalist. Furnivall's correspondence by letter and postcard extended from 1896 to 1909; the letters are found in the main chronological sequence, while the postcards have been placed in a separate folder. The nineteen letters from Burroughs date from 1902 to 1921, the year of his death (see Index); the collection includes two copies of his poem, "Waiting," one a holograph and the other a holograph facsimile printed as a New Year greeting for 1911.


Eighteen chronologically arranged journals and notebooks at the beginning of this series document Rickert's life and work from 1896 to 1907, including her first trip to Europe, her three years of teaching at Vassar, and her career as a writer in England. These are followed by a notebook dated April 26, 1920 and three folders of miscellaneous notes and notebooks. The journals and notebooks contain vivid and often detailed accounts of Rickert's travels, as well as lists of completed works and ideas for future stories.


Rickert's literary work is organized here in five subseries: Novels, Short Stories, Poems, Essays, Memoirs, and Reviews, and Translations and Works by Others. Rickert made extensive notes and corrections on most of these texts, whether holograph or printed, with multiple copies often bearing different sets of corrections.

The sub-series devoted to Novels consists of manuscripts of four unpublished works: Family, Lost Legions, While Breakfast Waits, and Young Alexander. Family, a semi-autobiographical novel dealing with the coming of age of a young woman, was never completed, although the manuscript preserves several stages of work over a period of years. Commenting on this novel, Rickert wrote: "If the theme is worth doing and if my doing of it shows promise, I am willing to work the book over as often as need be, even to forty and four times."

The second sub-series, Short Stories, contains an alphabetical sequence of one hundred stories, most of them completed during Rickert's years in England. No attempt has been made to separate manuscript and printed copies. Many of the stories are historical romances or sentimental vignettes based on Rickert's travels and observations. Titled stories are followed by one folder of untitled works and fragments.

Poems, the third sub-series, consists of titled and untitled verse.

Sub-series four, Essays, Memoirs, and Reviews, contains essays drawn from Rickert's visits to European villages, a memoir of her friend F. J. Furnivall, descriptions of manuscript collections at the University of Chicago and British Museum, and a proposal for an Institute for Mediaeval Research. Titled items are followed by a folder of untitled book reviews.

The final sub-series, Translations and Works by Others, includes the manuscripts of three unpublished novels. Priscilla on-Her-Own by "Marjorie Fleming" (8:5-8) may be Rickert's work, given the character of the story and the hand in which corrections were made. Riders in the Night (8:9-9:2) and an untitled historical novel (9:4-7) show Rickert's editorial changes, but no firm attribution of authorship can be made in either case.


This series comprises miscellaneous items documenting Edith Rickert's life and work. Seven folders preserve leaves from a scrapbook containing reviews of Folly, The Golden Hawk, and The Beggar in the Heart. These are followed by folders containing reviews of New Methods for the Study of Literature and other books, bibliographies of published works, and biographical clippings. Fred B. Millet's research notes and correspondence for his memoir of Rickert are included here, as are letters from Margaret Rickert seeking a publisher for her sister's stories. The series concludes with memorabilia and photographs and three books owned by Rickert's mother, Josephine Newburgh Rickert.

Related Resources

The following related resources are located in the Department of Special Collections:


Further information on Edith Rickert and her career at the University of Chicago can be found in the Chaucer Research Collection, the papers of John Matthews Manly, and the records of the Department of English.

Subject Headings


Series I: Correspondence

Box 1   Folder 1


Box 1   Folder 2


Box 1   Folder 3


Box 1   Folder 4


Box 1   Folder 5


Box 1   Folder 6


Box 1   Folder 7


Box 1   Folder 8


Box 1   Folder 9


Box 1   Folder 10

Undated letters

Box 1   Folder 11

Postcards from Frederick J. Furnivall, 1898-1909

Series II: Journals and Notebooks

Box 1   Folder 12

July 11 - August 11, 1896

Box 1   Folder 13

August 12 - October 16, 1896

Box 2   Folder 1

October 19, 1896 - March 12, 1897

Box 2   Folder 2

March 13 - September 8, 1897

Box 2   Folder 3

September 9, 1897 - April 12, 1898

Box 2   Folder 4

June 23 - November 1, 1898

Box 2   Folder 5

November 2, 1898 - June 15, 1899

Box 2   Folder 6

June 15, 1899 - April 30, 1900

Box 2   Folder 7

May 1, 1900 - April 19, 1901

Box 2   Folder 8

January 10, 1901 - January 9, 1902

Box 2   Folder 9

April 12-16, 1901

Box 2   Folder 10

May 10 - July 27, 1901

Box 2   Folder 11

February 24 - April 27, 1902

Box 3   Folder 1

August 4 - October 25, 1902

Box 3   Folder 2

February 12 - September 11, 1904

Box 3   Folder 3

June 19 - December 11, 1905

Box 3   Folder 4

December 13, 1905 - January 26, 1906

Box 3   Folder 5

July 28 - August 16, 1907

Box 3   Folder 6

April 20, 1920

Box 3   Folder 7

"Early Sketches, Probably from Vassar Period," undated

Box 3   Folder 8

Disbound signature from journal, undated

Box 3   Folder 9

  • Three small notebooks, undated
  • Notes for the collection of "Sketches" ER wished to write

Series III: Writings

Subseries 1: Novels

Box 4   Folder 1-4


Box 4   Folder 5-6

Lost Legions

Box 4   Folder 7-8

Lost Legions, second copy

Box 4   Folder 9-10

While Breakfast Waits

Box 4   Folder 11-12

While Breakfast Waits, second copy

Box 5   Folder 1-2

Young Alexander

Box 5   Folder 3-4

Young Alexander, second copy

Box 5   Folder 5

Young Alexander, alternate pages

Subseries 2: Short Stories

Box 5   Folder 6

Art Sketches

  • Silence
  • The Charioteer
  • Portrait of an Unknown Man
  • Obelisk
  • Palimpsest
  • Wings
  • The Broken Vase
Box 5   Folder 7-9

Art Sketches, alternative versions

Box 5   Folder 10

Short Stories

  • As To Wooing-There Was None
  • Barney of Bruges
  • Bats
  • The Boiling of the Kettle
Box 5   Folder 11

The Book of My Island

Box 6   Folder 1

Short Stories

  • The Broader Outlook
  • Bruges-la-Morte
  • Caesar in Servitude
  • The Capitulation of Her Parents
  • A Castle in Spain
  • The Christmas Thorn
  • Clothes and the Man
  • Cockle Money
  • The Coward
  • The Cry of the Soil
  • Cynthia Brought to Earth
Box 6   Folder 2

Short Stories

  • The Dragon Who Liked Dumplings
  • Dutch Courtship (originally A New Way of Wooing)
  • Eileau Pria
Box 6   Folder 3

Short Stories

  • Empty Shells
  • The End of the Story (originally The Diary Girl)
  • Escape
  • The Fertile Hand
  • The Freedom of the City
  • The Gift of the Sea
  • The Giftie
  • The Girls
Box 6   Folder 4

Short Stories

  • Gloup
  • God
  • The Golden Isle
  • Grandfeythers Both
  • The Guardian of the Flame
  • Heather-Beer
  • Her Wedding Day
  • The Hermit of St. James (Jacques)
Box 6   Folder 5

Short Stories

  • Home
  • The Home-Coming
  • The Hoofs of the World
  • Hotel Beaurepos
  • The House of Afternoon
  • The House of the Star
  • Julius
Box 6   Folder 6

Short Stories

  • Katie-on-the-Step
  • The Knocking at the Door
  • Leaning on Her Broom
  • The Lifting of the Burden
  • The Lilac Lady
  • A Little Game of War
  • Little Sister to Old Ladies
  • The Lords of the World
  • Luck!
Box 6   Folder 7

Short Stories

  • Mac, the Divil an' His Dip'ties
  • The Man Who Was Drowned
  • Mary-of-the-Sea
  • The Night Bird
  • The Old Things
  • On a Park Bench
  • The Ordered House
  • Osla Whale Hunting
  • Patagonia
Box 6   Folder 8

The Pilgrim

Box 6   Folder 9

The Pilgrim, second copy

Box 6   Folder 10

Short Stories

  • Pink Sugar
  • Poor Susan!
  • The Pot on the Fire
  • The Princess Steps Down
Box 7   Folder 1

Short Stories

  • The Queen of Hearts
  • A Question of Adjustment
  • The Ranee's Children
  • Return Through the Snow
Box 7   Folder 2

Short Stories

  • The Rice-Bag
  • The Rocking-Chair
  • The Room at the End of the Passage
  • Saturday
  • She Is Mary-Gold
  • The Ship That Was Late
  • Soft Jock (originally Jock's Victory)
  • Soundings; Off Barra Head and Elsewhere
  • Southern Pride
  • The Stable
  • Strayed - A Princess
Box 7   Folder 3

Short Stories

  • The Telephone
  • The Three Bears
  • Tiger Tail
  • To-morrow
  • The Tone of the Cracked Chimes
  • Tow'ead
  • Toy Town
  • The Two Fears
Box 7   Folder 4

Short Stories

  • Unwilling Burglars
  • Up Ardnamurchan Way
  • The Way of the Wind
  • When the Fever Was at Uist
  • When the Time Came
  • Which Floor?
  • White Lucy
  • Wishes Are Horses
  • The Wishing Ball
  • The Wonderful Day
Box 7   Folder 5

Yankees All

Box 7   Folder 6

Untitled stories and fragments

Subseries 3: Poems

Box 7   Folder 7


  • And Pity 'Tis, 'Tis True
  • A Ballad of Heather
  • A Christmas Carol
  • L'Envoi
  • Lullaby
  • March
  • The Master Beggar
  • Nobody Knows the Trouble I See
  • Sea Thistle
  • Spring
  • To a Thrush in the Tower
  • To an Intruder
  • Zoo
Box 7   Folder 8

Untitled poems

  • Essays, Memoirs, and Reviews

Subseries 4: Essays, Memoirs and Reviews

Box 7   Folder 9

Essays, Memoirs and Reviews

  • The Bacon Manuscripts at the University of Chicago
  • Cliff-Climbing in Cornwall
  • Closing In
  • Du Côté de chez Proust
  • Espiñal
  • An Essay on Pageantry
  • Experiments in Primitive Life
  • F. J. Furnivall
  • Foundations
Box 7   Folder 10

Essays, Memoirs and Reviews The Fraternity Idea Among College Women

  • Hermann Heijermans
  • The Hidden Force
  • Holland, From a Freight-Steamer
  • Homer in the Far North
  • Humors of an Old Dutch Town
  • Illuminated French and Flemish MSS in the British Museum
  • In the Land of the Golden Goat (with a shorter version, At the Sign of the Golden Goat)
  • King Richard II's Books
Box 7   Folder 11

Essays, Memoirs and Reviews

  • The Land of the Doones
  • An Old "Book of Friends"
  • Old Christmas Carols
  • On the Desirability and the Possibility of an Institute for Mediaeval Research at the U of C
  • Provençal Friendships (Making Friends in Provence)
Box 8   Folder 1

Essays, Memoirs and Reviews

  • Roads
  • A Sail to Fuiay
  • Skagen; The Danish Painters' Village in Jutland
  • Tennyson; A Generation After
  • To Whom It May Concern; A Hint or Two on the Study of Poetry
  • Ultima Thule
  • What I Am Most Thankful For
Box 8   Folder 2

Untitled book reviews

Subseries 5: Translations and Works by Others

Box 8   Folder 3

About the King's Daughter, anonymous Lithuanian tale Letters to a Lover, translated by ER from the French

Box 8   Folder 4

About the King's Daughter, typescript of French originals

Box 8   Folder 5-8

Priscilla-on-Her-Own, by Marjorie Fleming

Box 8   Folder 9-10

Riders in the Night, by Jacob Blount, Jr

Box 9   Folder 1-2

Riders in the Night, by Jacob Blount, Jr

Box 9   Folder 3

Tales of the Other World and of This, translated by ER from the Provençal of Joseph Roumanille

Box 9   Folder 4-7

Untitled historical novel, anonymous

Series IV: Biographical

Box 9   Folder 8-12

Press clipping scrapbook, 1905-1909, disbound

Box 10   Folder 1-2

Press clipping scrapbook, 1905-1909, disbound

Box 10   Folder 3

Miscellaneous press clippings, 1907-1949

Box 10   Folder 4

Publisher's contract for The Golden Hawk, 1906

Box 10   Folder 5

Bibliographies of published works by ER

Box 10   Folder 6

Miscellaneous biographical clippings

Box 10   Folder 7

Address book

Box 10   Folder 8

Fred B. Millet, correspondence with John M. Manly, Clair C. Olson, and others regarding ER, 1938-1940.

Box 10   Folder 9

Fred B. Millet, Edith Rickert; A Memoir (1944)

Box 10   Folder 10

Margaret Rickert, correspondence concerning ER, 1955-1960 (includes bibliography of ER's works)

Box 10   Folder 11

Locket portraits of ER and her mother, Josephine Newburgh Rickert

  • Foster Medal awarded to ER, 188
  • Phi Beta Kappa key awarded to ER, Vassar College, 1891
Box 10   Folder 12

Casts of seals of Thomas Chaucer and others from the Public Record Office

Box 10   Folder 13

Photographs, Rickert family

Box 10   Folder 14

Photographs, ER's apartment

Box 10   Folder 15

Photographs, illustrations by W. T. Benda for The Golden Hawk

Box 10   Folder 16

Photographs, John Burroughs

Box 11   Folder 1

Commonplace book of Josephine Newburgh Rickert

Box 11   Folder 2

Autograph album of Josephine Newburgh Rickert

Box 11   Folder 3

Bible of Josephine Newburgh Rickert