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John Masefield letters to Mary Jerrold


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

John Edward Masefield (1878-1967) was an English poet, novelist, and playwright.

From 1894-1897, Masefield indulged his love of the sea as a sailor, traveling first to Chile and then to the United States, where he held several types of jobs in New York and read voraciously. His travels inspired many of his later works.

Upon returning to London in 1897, Masefield took a position as a clerk. He began to write more seriously, producing some of his most noted poems, such as "Sea-fever" and "Cargoes." In 1900, Masefield was introduced to Irish poet W. B. Yeats. It was due to his friendship with Yeats that Masefield decided to become a full-time writer.

In 1903, Masefield married Constance de la Cherois Crommelin. Together they had a daughter and son, Judith (1904-1988) and Lewis (1910-1942). During this time Masefield turned to drama.

The Tragedy of Nan (1909) was considered his most successful play, although his foray into drama proved less successful than his poetry or fiction. Masefield’s most noted works include his narrative poems Dauber (1913) and Reynard the Fox (1919) and his novels Lost Endeavour (1910), The Bird of Dawning (1933), and Dead Ned (1938).

Gervais, David, “Masefield, John Edward (1878-1967),” Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, 2016.

English actress Mary Jerrold (1877-1955) performed on the stage and enjoyed a career in British film between the 1930s and the 1950s.

Jerrold had her debut role on the English stage in

Mary Pennington, Spinster in April 1896. She had leading roles in several of John Masefield's productions, including Jenny Pargetter in The Tragedy of Nan and Kezia Spinfield in Melloney Holtspur.

Jerrold began acting in British films in the 1930s, the years of the early sound films or "talkies." Her career lasted through the post-War era, and she appeared in a variety of genres, including comedy, drama, musical and war films. She also had a part in an early silent film,

Disraeli (1916.)

Jerrold was a granddaughter of Henry Mayhew (1812-1887), one of the founders of

Punch magazine.

The Sketch: A Journal of Art and Actuality. Vol. 19. [Google Books]. September 15, 1897. Google Books. 304. Information derived from dealer description.

This collection comprises nineteen letters from English author John Masefield (1878-1967) letters to English actress Mary Jerrold (1877-1955), in which he complimented her performances (often as characters in his own plays), wished her well on opening nights, discussed his writing, and arranged visits and outings.

Masefield praised Jerrold for her performance as Jenny in

The Tragedy of Nan, as well as her performance as Kezia in Melloney Holtspur; or The Pangs of Love. In addition, Masefield sent Jerrold a few photographic postcards of places from which he drew inspiration for scenes that appeared The Tragedy of Nan. The collection also includes a printed and illustrated copy of Masefield’s poem, The Ballad of Sir Bors, and an illustrated broadside of Masefield’s The Racer.

Box 1: Shelved in SPEC MSS manuscript boxes (1 inch)

Purchase, February 2016.

University of Delaware Library Special Collections
Finding Aid Author
University of Delaware Library, Special Collections
Finding Aid Date
2016 April 29
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

Letter, 1911 February 22.
Box 1 Folder F1
Letters, 1921 May 7-December 2.
Box 1 Folder F2
Letters, 1922 February 18-October 23.
Box 1 Folder F3
Letters, 1923 June 29-November 3.
Box 1 Folder F4
Letter, 1924 November 15.
Box 1 Folder F5
Letter, 1928 September 6.
Box 1 Folder F6
Letter, 1930 May.
Box 1 Folder F7
Letter, 1941 June 22.
Box 1 Folder F8
Letters, undated.
Box 1 Folder F9

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