Working with the Braddon Family Archive

by Janine Hatter on March 28, 2015

Housed in the Augustine Library at Canterbury Christ Church University, the Mary Braddon Archive is part of the holdings of the International Centre for Victorian Women Writers (ICVWW). When I took up my Visiting Research Fellowship in English with the ICVWW, the cache of material that Braddon’s descendents owned was passed into the safe keeping of the library. This material, or a small part of it, was the subject of my PhD thesis: ‘Papers Found in A Trunk: A critical assessment of the Mary Braddon Archive’, awarded by the University of Kent in 2006.

The Archive material is extensive and includes some pieces of juvenilia, correspondence, notebooks, desk diaries, scripts, draft chapters, short stories, and poetry. There are also some pieces of family memorabilia, such as drawings by Braddon’s children, lockets of hair, a bible, family photographs, and sketches made in her own hand. Some of these drawings are of John Maxwell and show a very romantic and intimate side to her life. To handle and view the materials offers a powerful feeling of personally connecting with the author.

I have catalogued and transcribed a small part of the Archive. There are eleven appendices to my thesis, kept in the thesis room at the University of Kent’s Templeman Library. The following are the scripts, prose, and notebooks that have been deciphered:

About the Childhood of Tommy and Harry

Boulevard of the Temple

Circumambulatory

Introduction to a costly edition of Little Dorrit

‘MEM’ [Mary Elizabeth Maxwell] autobiographical notes

News From Alma; Or the Watchers At Home and The Field of Battle

Robert Macaire, Jnr.

Mary Braddon’s Notebooks [‘A’ and ‘B’] circa 1890s

The Kingdom of Boredom

The Revenge of the Dead

Told By The Poet

 

The activities of the ICVWW relating to the Braddon Archive so far:

Exhibitions:

‘Wild Woman to New Woman: Sex and Suffrage on the Victorian Stage’, Templeman Library, University of Kent, Canterbury, July 2013

(Curator: Alyson Hunt)

‘Victorian Rebel: The Many Faces of Mary Braddon’, Augustine Library Centre, Canterbury Christ Church, July 2012

(Curator: Gabrielle Malcolm)

Public Lectures:

‘Dear Bradshaw’: Railway Travel, Detective Fiction, and the Actor’s Life, Waterstone’s Bookstore, Canterbury, September 2012

(Gabrielle Malcolm)

‘The Mary Braddon Archive’, Inaugural Lecture for the International Centre for Victorian Women Writers, Canterbury Christ Church University, July 2012

(Gabrielle Malcolm)

 

Dr Gabrielle Malcolm, Visiting Research Fellow in English

International Centre for Victorian Women Writers

 

Articles:

2007    ‘Revenge of the Dead: a critique of Mary Braddon’s Gothic melodrama scripts’ Nineteenth Century Theatre and Film, Spring 2007 (ed. Professor Kate Newey)

2005    ‘Mary Braddon on Dickens: a critical assessment of Braddon’s Introduction to Little Dorrit’, The Dickensian, Spring 2005 (ed. Professor Malcolm Andrews)

2001    ‘”Circumambulatory; or The Adventures of Three Gentlemen and a Lady in Search of a British Public”: an examination of the unpublished theatrical short story by Mary Braddon’, Leeds Working Papers in Victorian Studies, Vol. 4 2001, Unrespectable Recreations (ed. Martin Hewitt)

Books:

2001    Editor and introduction, Circe, by Mary Braddon, (Sensation Press: Hastings, 2001) (series ed. Dr Jennifer Carnell)

FORTHCOMING:

‘Before the Knowledge of Evil’: Mary Braddon’s childhood memoir

 

Literary and Research blog for updates and information on the Braddon Family Archive and contact details:

http://gabymalcolm.wordpress.com/

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