University of Chicago Library

Guide to the Alice Meynell Collection 1870s

© 2016 University of Chicago Library

Descriptive Summary


Meynell, Alice. Collection




0.25 linear feet (1 box)


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


Alice Christiana Gertrude Meynell (1847-1922) English writer, editor, critic, suffragist and poet. The collection contains ten letters sent by Meynell to a Mrs. Burchett. The letters are believed to have been written before 1877.

Information on Use


The collection is open for research.

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

Biographical Note

Alice Christiana Gertrude Meynell was born in October 11, 1847, in Barnes, London, to Thomas James and Christiana Thompson. As a child, she and her family moved around England, Switzerland, and France, though Meynell spent most of her youth in Italy. Meynell published her first collection of poetry, Preludes, in 1875. Though it received little public attention, the famed English art critic John Ruskin praised her work. Meynell converted to the Catholic Church at some point prior to 1868 and her family followed suit. Her conversion focused her writing in religious matters. This new focus led her to meet a Catholic newspaper editor, Wilfrid Meynell (1852-1948) in 1876. She married Wilfrid in 1877. Alice and Wilfrid settled in Kensington, London. She and Wilfrid became involved in a number of magazines, both as proprietors and editors. Alice also continued to pursue her own prose and poetry. She often wrote for The World, The Spectator, The Magazine of Art, The Scots Observer, The Tablet, The Art Journal, The Pall Mall Gazette, and The Saturday Review.

The Meynells became supporters of other artists and social reformers at the end of the 19th century. They worked toward the publishing of Francis Thompson’s first poems. They also supported the poet Coventry Patmore. In the field of social reform, the Meynells became involved in the movements against European colonial imperialism. Alice also became the vice-president of the Women Writer’s Suffrage League.

Alice and Wilfrid had eight children. One daughter, Viola Meynell (1885-1956), also became an author, and their youngest, Francis Meynell (1891-1975), was also a poet. After a series of illnesses, Meynell died on November 27, 1922 and was buried at Kensal Green Catholic Cemetery.

Scope Note

The Alice Meynell Collection contains ten letters from Alice Meynell to “Mrs. Burchett.” The letters are written on four distinct types of stationary. The exact date of the letters is unknown as there are only incomplete dates on most of the letters (e.g. February 7), and no dates on the remaining three. However, the letters are signed as “Alice Thompson,” Meynell’s maiden name, indicating that they were written at some point before her marriage to Wilfrid Meynell in 1877. In fact, some letters make reference to Meynell’s “future husband.”

The collection was previously part of the Miscellaneous Manuscripts Collection.

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Subject Headings


Box 1   Folder 1

Correspondence, circa 1870s

  • Letter from Alice Meynell to Mrs. Burchett, January 7
  • Letter from Alice Meynell to Mrs. Burchett, February 6
  • Letter from Alice Meynell to Mrs. Burchett, February 28
  • Letter from Alice Meynell to Mrs. Burchett, March 17
  • Letter from Alice Meynell to Mrs. Burchett, April 3
  • Letter from Alice Meynell to Mrs. Burchett, April 17
  • Letter from Alice Meynell to Mrs. Burchett, April 19
  • Letter from Alice Meynell to Mrs. Burchett, August 19
  • Letter from Alice Meynell to Mrs. Burchett, Tuesday Morning
  • Letter from Alice Meynell to Mrs. Burchett, undated
  • Letter from Alice Meynell to Mrs. Burchett, undated

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