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Matheson collection of Angus Wilson letters

 Collection — Box: 1
Identifier: MS-0316

Scope and Contents

The collection consists of three hand-written letters mostly discussing literary matters; the letters date from 1954, 1961, and 1970. The first letter is dated November 2, 1954 and is addressed to "Dear Hemmings." ("Hemmings" may be British author, Frederick William John Hemmings who also wrote a study of Emile Zola.) In the letter, Wilson describes his process of writing and explains the choice of correct titles, characters, dialogue, and "the shape" of his work. The second letter is dated June 19, 1961 and is addressed to "Dear Mr. Ryan." Wilson wrote he is preparing an article in which he will discuss "the moral scheme and religion" in Jane Austin's work. The writings of Miss Austin are known to be a major influence on Wilson's work. (An essay entitled "The Neighbourhood of Tombuctoo: Conflicts in Jane Austin's Novels," written by Wilson is included in Critical Essays on Jane Austin, edited by B.C. Southam, published in London by Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1968). The last letter is dated February 2, 1970 and is addressed to Geoffrey (Crigson). In this letter Wilson relates he has been asked to supply the introduction for a new book in England. The volume with Wilson's introduction was published in 1971. (Smith, Edwin. England. London: Thames and Hudson, 1971.)


  • Creation: 1954, 1961, 1970


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is housed off-site and requires 48-hours' notice for retrieval. Contact Special Collections for more information.

This collection is open for use.

Conditions Governing Use

Single copies may be made for research purposes. Researchers are responsible for determining any copyright questions. It is not necessary to seek our permission as the owner of the physical work to publish or otherwise use public domain materials that we have made available for use, unless Johns Hopkins University holds the copyright.

Biographical / Historical

Angus Wilson, the British novelist, critic, and biographer, was born in Bexhill, Sussex in 1913. He studied at Merton College, Oxford (1932-1935) and afterwards took a position at the British Museum. He retained that position for nearly 20 years, interrupted only by this service as a member of the intelligence branch of the Foreign Office during the Second World War. After the war, Wilson became superintendent of the Reading Room at the museum and was responsible for replacing nearly 300,000 books that had been lost during wartime bombings. Wilson published a first collection of short fiction, The Wrong Set, in 1949. A first novel, Hemlock and After, was published in 1952, followed by a work of non-fiction, a study of Emile Zola. Wilson was also a teacher and lecturer. He was a professor of English at the University of East Anglia, 1966-1978, and held visiting lectureship at American schools including the University of California at Berkeley and the University of Delaware. He was the John Hinkley Visiting Professor, fall term 1974, at the Johns Hopkins University. Wilson's novel, No Laughing Matter (1967), established his position as the forebear of the Angry Young Men of British drama and fiction of the 1950s and 1960s. Two critical biographies written by Wilson are considered very important in recent English literature: The World of Charles Dickens (1970) and The Strange Ride of Rudyard Kipling (1978). Wilson resided in Suffolk, England and was knighted by Queen Elisabeth II in 1980. Angus Wilson died in 1991.


0.167 Cubic Feet (3 items)

Language of Materials



Sir Angus Wilson (1913-1991) was an English novelist and short story writer. The collection consists of three hand-written letters mostly discussing literary matters; the letters date from 1954, 1961, and 1970.


The letters were given to the University by Nina and William Matheson, November 1989. They were part of a larger gift which included a collection of published volumes by Angus Wilson. The accession number is 91-92.10.

Processing Information

Finding aid prepared by Joan Grattan in March 1992.

Matheson collection of Angus Wilson letters
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections Repository

The Sheridan Libraries
Special Collections
3400 N Charles St
Baltimore MD 21218 USA