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At a Glance
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 illness Arthur experienced 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 illness. 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
You will need to make an appointment in advance to use this collection material in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library reading room. You can schedule an appointment once you've submitted your request through your Special Collections Research Account.
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.
Identification of specific item; Date (if known); Arthur and Rhoda Symons Correspondence; Box and Folder; Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University Libraries.
Arthur Symons Papers, Princeton University
Materials may have been added to the collection since this finding aid was prepared. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
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.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Papers: Source of acquisition--Lohf, Kenneth A. Method of acquisition--Gift.
48 letters & 1 poem: Source of acquisition--Lohf, Kenneth A. Method of acquisition--Gift; Date of acquisition--1991. Accession number--M-1991.
26 letters, 1 intro. & 1 contract: Source of acquisition--Lohf, Kenneth A. Method of acquisition--Gift; Date of acquisition--1992. Accession number--M-1992.
AS letter to Seumas o'Sullivan: Source of acquisition--Lohf, K.A. Method of acquisition--Gift; Date of acquisition--12/--/1994. Accession number--M-94-12.
About the Finding Aid / Processing Information
Columbia University Libraries, Rare Book and Manuscript Library
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).
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.
History / 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 experience with mental illness 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.