Main content

Georgina Somerville correspondence with Lady Margaret Sackville


Held at: University of Delaware Library Special Collections [Contact Us]181 South College Avenue, Newark, DE 19717-5267

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the University of Delaware Library Special Collections. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.

Overview and metadata sections

Dr. Georgina Somerville was the editor of

Harp Aeolian: Commentaries on the Works of Lady Margaret Sackville, the only critical study devoted to Sackville.

Dr. Georgina Somerville, listed in

British Phone Books, 1880-1984, as residing at 17 South Street, Winchester, in 1937, began a letter to Lady Margaret Sackville before being interrupted by a late night house call to attend to a sick woman at the request of a frantic husband. Her letter also mentioned a recent stay with Sackville, suggesting their close friendship.

British Phone Books, 1880-1984. (accessed December 20, 2013)Information for Dr. Georgina Somerville derived from the letters.

Although British poet Lady Margaret Sackville (1881-1963) was a popular poet and author in the first half of the twentieth century, none of her work exists in modern editions and she has been omitted from anthologies of British and women poets. Sackville's friend Georgina Somerville edited the only critical study devoted to Sackville,

Harp Aeolian: Commentaries on the Works of Lady Margaret Sackville.

Born into a privileged family, there is no record of Sackville’s education. However, she reportedly was writing poetry by the age six and by the age of eighteen, with encouragement from poet Wilfred Scawen Blunt, she published her first chapbook of poetry,

Floral Symphony (1900).

In addition to poetry, Sackville wrote fairy tales, such as the two volumes on which she collaborated with Scottish poet Ronald Campbell Macfie,

Fairy Tales for Old and Young (1909) and More Fairy Tales for Old and Young (1912). She contributed to periodical and anthologies, as well as edited several anthologies of poetry and a volume on Jane Austen.

Lady Margaret Sackville lived most of her adult life in Scotland and was honored by Scotland with a bust created by Pittendrigh Macgillivray, Sculptor Royal of Scotland.

"Margaret Sackville." Contemporary Authors Online. Biography in Context. (accessed May 20, 2014)

On the evening of April 12, 1937, Dr. Georgina Somerville began writing a letter to her friend, British poet Lady Margaret Sackville, in response to a recent postcard from Lady Sackville. That incomplete letter, a letter which Somerville wrote the following day, and the postcard from Sackville, comprise this small collection.

Somerville’s complete letter, dated April 13, 1937, begins with an explanation of the partial letter from the night before. Somerville explained that she had been interrupted to make a late night house call to attend to a sick woman. The remainder of letter has two foci, her impressions and critique of Lewis Spence's

Plumes of Time and her travels since she had visited Sackville's home.

Somerville's critique of

Plumes of Time is quite direct, but also complimentary, noting, "I feel that he is influenced by you greatly--that some aphorisms that belong to you and you only, he has cribbed quite unconsciously--his Scots poems are fine--they are an outline of a sensitive mind which absorbs its authorship. They reflect a warmth and intensity that comes from within." Somerville hoped that her critique would not be found "priggish," saying, "If I have been hard about the poems, I hope you will forgive me."

After her recent visit with Sackville, Somerville had traveled before returning to her own home in Winchester. Her letter chronicles her journey, including poor weather, several break-downs of her vehicle, but ultimately arriving at Stratford. While in Stratford she saw a production of

Henry V at the Stratford Theatre and visited Shakespeare's birth place and other places associated with the bard. She continued on to Kenilworth Castle and Warrick Castle, where the curator allowed her to handle various weapons and the china. Somerville closed with a thank you for Sackville's friendship, writing, "But I found you so understanding, even in something that no one else has understood--that desire for aloofness-- the winds between--the freedom of [wild?] scenes and lonely places--in friendship."

These items were originally in a pocket inside a copy of Lewis Spence's book of poetry,

Plumes of Time (SPEC PR 6037 .P381 A18 1926), which is probably the copy mentioned in Georgina Somerville's letters.

Box 66, F0958: Shelved in SPEC MSS 0099 manuscript boxes.

Processed and encoded by Anita Wellner, May 2014. Further encoded by George Apodaca, November 2015.

University of Delaware Library Special Collections
Finding Aid Author
University of Delaware Library, Special Collections
Finding Aid Date
2015 November 18
Access Restrictions

The collection is open for research.

Use Restrictions

Use of materials from this collection beyond the exceptions provided for in the Fair Use and Educational Use clauses of the U.S. Copyright Law may violate federal law. Permission to publish or reproduce is required from the copyright holder. Please contact Special Collections, University of Delaware Library,

Collection Inventory

Georgina Somerville correspondence with Lady Margaret Sackville, 1937.
Box 66 Folder F0958

Print, Suggest