The formation of the Tudor and Stuart Club, dedicated to "the encouragement of the study of English literature in the Tudor and Stuart periods, the building up of a library of works relating to these periods ... and the promotion of good fellowship and a love of literature," was initiated by Sir William Osler and his wife, Lady Grace Osler. Their intention to provide an endowment for these activities was expressed in a letter to Johns Hopkins University President Frank J. Goodnow, dated October 30, 1918. This letter officially founded the Club.
Sir William Osler was one of the renowned "Four Doctors" who formed the first staff at the Johns Hopkins Hospital and, later, the first faculty at the Johns Hopkins Medical School. Osler came to the new hospital as Physician-in-Chief in 1889 and became Professor of Medicine at the newly opened medical school in 1893. He left Baltimore in 1905 to become Regius Professor of Medicine at Oxford. Osler delivered the Silliman lectures at Yale in 1913. While there, he visited and admired the Yale Elizabethan Club. An endowed literary club, the Yale organization may have sparked Osler's interest in providing such a group for Johns Hopkins. The Tudor and Stuart Club was, however, eventually founded as a university property rather than as a private corporation, as was the case with the Yale group. The Oslers' son, Edward Revere, had been born in Baltimore in 1895. Their only child, he died of battle wounds received in World War I fighting in France in 1917. Like his father, Edward had been an avid book collector. The Oslers' endowment for the Tudor and Stuart Club was therefore named the Edward Revere Osler Fund and was established "as a memorial to our son . . . and in grateful recognition of the happy years we spent in Baltimore."
The endowment provided not only interest bearing securities for the book purchasing and other operations of the Club, it also contributed Edward Revere Osler's personal book collection, about 800 volumes, as the nucleus of the Tudor and Stuart library. Osler's founding letter, in addition to announcing the endowment, suggested criteria for Club membership, proposed a group of original members, and concluded with a promise to contribute special book items to the library. Osler died in December 1919, having had time to make only one such contribution, "The Golden Book of Marcus Aurelius," printed in London in 1559. After some delay, the Edward Revere Osler book collection arrived at Hopkins in late 1922. Librarian M. Llewellyn Raney, realizing that the Club had never been formally organized, wrote to President Goodnow in December 1922 urging a first convening of Club members. Raney suggested that the Club and its library be housed in Gilman Hall. He also noted that the Tudor and Stuart library must be made generally available to the university community, since Osler's original intention was that it be considered a part of the English departmental library.
The organization of the Tudor and Stuart Club was effected January 16, 1923 with a membership drawn from within and outside the University. A few women are counted among the original members as well as faculty from the School of Medicine. It was Osler's belief that an interest in the classics was essential for physicians. Rooms in Gilman Hall were designed and furnished for meetings and for the use of rare books. A portrait of Revere Osler was hung above the mantle. Author's readings, book-talks, and lectures were formally scheduled, but the club was also a place for the more informal gatherings of students, faculty, and others who shared a love of literature. The distinctive collection of rare books also provided a stimulus to research, and the journal, English Literary History (ELH), was begun in 1934 as a project of the Tudor and Stuart Club.
Johns Hopkins librarian and professor of English, John C. French (1875-1957), an original member of the Tudor and Stuart Club and its second president, 1924-1925, included a history of the club in his published volume: A History of The Johns Hopkins University Founded by Johns Hopkins. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins Press, 1946. (LD 2628 .F87 1946)