Braddon Family Archive, Canterbury Christ Church University

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). The archive is based upon a cache of material that Braddon’s descendants owned and that was passed into the safe keeping of the library. 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.

This material has recently been digitised by Gale Cengage and can now be accessed through their ‘Women: Transnational Networks’ section. If you would like to visit the archive, please see Canterbury Christ Church University website. To view the material being moved to the University please watch this Youtube clip.

Houghton Library, Harvard College Library, Harvard University

The Houghton Library has a fine collection of British and Irish Literature of the nineteenth century, which includes material on Mary Elizabeth Braddon. Their archive contains 11 volumes and 1 box of papers relating to Braddon, which includes manuscripts of the novels Taken at the Flood and The Story of Barbara; notebooks of prose and poetry, notes on Greek literature, and 17th and 18th century subjects; a diary from 1881 in which Braddon records books, essays and short stories she is working on; family trips and engagements; her own reading habits; a pen and ink drawing of a murder scene from Lady Audley’s Secret; and a notebook containing reviews of Garibaldi and Other Poems (1861). The bound MSS for the novels are in the same binding as that described by P. D. Edwards for the collection in Tasmania. This selection is easy access in their normal open access archive. They also have 3 volumes of Braddon’s notebooks from 1880, which include outlines and other sketches for novels (some identifiable and some not), but this access requires the permission of the curate. This material was bought from Pickering and Chatto in 1960 and is a mine of information for researchers. You can search their catalogue here.

Robert Lee Wolff Collection, Harry Ransom Humanities Centre, University of Texas, Austin

The Harry Ransom Centre in Austin, Texas houses one of the world’s finest Braddon archives in the world. Their collection contains her autobiographical memoir ‘Before the Knowledge of Evil’; her letters, diaries and notebooks; and manuscripts of articles, short stories and novels. The full list of their Braddon material is available in a PDF. The Harry Ransom Centre has also now digitized their Braddon collection and you can access it for free here.

This archive collection was the basis for Braddon’s first biography, Sensational Victorian, by Robert Lee Wolff, who sold his collection to the Centre in 1984. This material is available to buy on microfilm (a full 10 reel’s worth) from the Adam Matthew Publishers, Marlborough. There are many libraries throughout the world that hold these microfilms, and they can be found using WorldCat.

Tasmanian Archive and Heritage Office

The Tasmania Archive and Heritage Office houses the other main archive of Braddon’s working manuscripts. These were donated to the Library by Henry Maxwell in 1957. Notably, Braddon’s brother Edward, was the Premier of Tasmania from 1894 – 1899. Their collection includes thirty volumes of manuscripts and can be searched online as they are now fully catalogued.

The library is also currently cataloguing the material properly and so it will be easily searchable in the future. For a full list of the works and a more detailed description of how the collection arrived in Tasmania please see: P. D. Edwards, ‘M. E. Braddon Manuscripts in Australia’, Notes and Queries, 35 (1988): 326-328.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *