Rare Book & Manuscript Library

Arthur and Rhoda Symons Correspondence and Manuscripts, 1884-1973

Summary Information


Primarily consists of correspondence between the English author and literary critic Arthur Symons (1865-1945) and his wife, Rhoda Bowser Symons (1874?-1936). A small amount of the Symons' correspondence with others, Arthur Symons' manuscripts, and correspondence about the collection is also included.

At a Glance

Call No.: MS#1222
Bib ID 4079613 View CLIO record
Creator(s) Symons, Arthur, 1865-1945 ; Symons, Rhoda (Rhoda Bowser), 1874-1936
Title Arthur and Rhoda Symons Correspondence and Manuscripts, 1884-1973
Physical Description 11 linear feet (26 manuscript boxes)
Language(s) English .

This collection is located on-site.



Selected materials cataloged; remainder arranged. Correspondence between Arthur and Rhoda Symons is arranged chronologically. The Symons' incoming correspondence is arranged in alphabetical order by the sender's last name, and outgoing correspondence is arranged by the recipient's last name. Manuscripts are arranged in alphabetical order by title. Collection is arranged into three series.



Correspondence, manuscripts and printed materials. The bulk of the collection is composed of 1,016 letters from Arthur Symons to his wife, Rhoda, and 1,045 letters from Rhoda Bowser Symons to Arthur Symons. The letters date from 1898, shortly after the pair were introduced, through 1936. They discuss Arthur Symons' literary career and Rhoda Bowser Symons' theatrical career, other contemporary literary and theatrical figures, family life, and the mental breakdown Arthur suffered in 1908-1909.

A small amount of the Symons' correspondence with others is also included. Some of Arthur Symons' personal and professional correspondence, dating from 1884 to 1944, is present. Many of the letters addressed to Rhoda Bowser Symons were written at the time of Arthur Symons' mental breakdown. Other correspondence concerns Rhoda's family, the Bowser family of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, and her theatrical career. Notable correspondents of the Symons' include Auguste Rodin, Louis Napoleon Parker, Vincent O'Sullivan, and Montague Summers.

Manuscripts of poems and essays by Arthur Symons, dating from between 1896 and 1927, are also included in the collection. Finally, 19 letters to Lucy Bowser Featherstone—Rhoda Bowser Symons' niece and a former owner of this collection—are included. These letters date from 1946-1973 and primarily concern research about Arthur Symons.

Using the Collection

Rare Book and Manuscript Library

Restrictions on Access

This collection is located on-site.

Terms Governing Use and Reproduction

Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. The RBML maintains ownership of the physical material only. Copyright remains with the creator and his/her heirs. The responsibility to secure copyright permission rests with the patron.

Preferred Citation

Identification of specific item; Date (if known); Arthur and Rhoda Symons Correspondence; Box and Folder; Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University Libraries.

Related Materials

Arthur Symons Papers, Princeton University https://findingaids.princeton.edu/collections/C0182: 15 linear feet of "manuscripts, typescripts, notebooks, tear sheets, clippings, photographs, watercolors, paintings, and much miscellaneous material" of Arthur Symons'.

Alternate Form Available

Symons, Arthur 1,016 letters to his wife Rhoda Symons are on: microfilm.

Symons, Rhoda 1,065 letters to Arthur Symons are on: microfilm.

Ownership and Custodial History

The collection was given to the Rare Book and Manuscript Library by Kenneth A. Lohf, Librarian for Rare Books and Manuscripts, in installments between 1980 and 1994. Before Lohf acquired it, the collection was owned by Lucy Featherston, niece of Rhoda Symons.

About the Finding Aid / Processing Information

Columbia University Libraries, Rare Book and Manuscript Library

Processing Information

Papers Entered in AMC 12/04/1990.

48 letters & 1 poem Added to AMC HR 03/06/1992.

26 letters, 1 intro. & 1 contract Cataloged HR 07/10/1992.

AS letter to Seumas o'Sullivan Cataloged HR 10/12/1998.

The collection was originally called the Arthur Symons Papers. The title was changed in July 2018 to more accurately reflect the contents of the collection, to align with DACS principles, and to recognize Rhoda Bowser Symons' role as co-creator. At the same time, a container list was added to the finding aid, the front matter was revised, and the collection was arranged into series.

A group of materials belonging to the British writer and bibliographer A. J. A. Symons (no relation to Arthur Symons) was erroneously described as a component of this collection between 2017 and 2018. These materials were separated in July 2018 and retitled the Stuart B. Schimmel Collection of A. J. A. Symons Papers (MS #1939).

Revision Description

2009-06-26 File created.

2018-07-09 Removed "Donor permission required to see" restriction. KWS

2018-07-09 Collection title changed and custodial history updated with Lucy Featherston provenance information. CLB

2018-07-13 Added container list, revised front matter, and arranged collection into series. CLB

2019-05-20 EAD was imported spring 2019 as part of the ArchivesSpace Phase II migration.

Subject Headings

The subject headings listed below are found in this collection. Links below allow searches at Columbia University through the Archival Collections Portal and through CLIO, the catalog for Columbia University Libraries, as well as ArchiveGRID, a catalog that allows users to search the holdings of multiple research libraries and archives.

All links open new windows.


Heading "CUL Archives:"
"CUL Collections:"
"Nat'l / Int'l Archives:"
Correspondence Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Essays Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Poems Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID


Heading "CUL Archives:"
"CUL Collections:"
"Nat'l / Int'l Archives:"
Acting -- England -- 20th century Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Actresses Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Authors Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Authors, English -- 19th century Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Authors, English -- 20th century Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Critics Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Critics -- England -- 19th century Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Critics -- England -- 20th century Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Ellis, Havelock, 1859-1939 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Essayists Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Gosse, Edmund, 1849-1928 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Gosse, Ellen, Lady Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
John, Augustus, 1878-1961 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Literature and mental illness Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
O'Sullivan, Seumas, 1879-1958 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Poets Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Poets, English -- 19th century Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Poets, English -- 20th century Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Symbolism in art Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Symbolism in literature Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Women in the theater -- England -- 20th century Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID

History / Biographical Note

Biographical Note

Arthur Symons (1865-1945) was a British poet, critic, editor, and translator. He is best known for his 1899 critical work The Symbolist Movement in Literature, which introduced the work of French Symbolist poets to Anglo-American literary circles and strongly influenced the work of William Butler Yeats and T. S. Eliot. Other works by Symons include the poetic volumes Days and Nights (1889) and Silhouettes (1892), and Confessions: A Study in Pathology (1930), a memoir of his 1908 mental breakdown and treatment. Born in Wales, Symons spent much of his career living in London. He was a member of the Rhymers' Club and editor of the short-lived but influential literary magazine The Savoy.

Rhoda Bowser Symons (1874?-1936) was a British actress and musician. She was born in Newcastle-upon-Tyne to John Edward Bowser, a wealthy ship-builder and -owner, and Isabella Bowser. She studied at the Royal Academy of Music in London, where she met Arthur Symons in 1898. Before her marriage to Arthur in 1901, she pursued a theatrical career, to which she returned after 1912.