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H. L. Mencken - Ernest A. and Madeleine E. Boyd Collection

Identifier: GTM-GAMMS174

Collection-level Scope and Content Note

The Mencken-Boyd Collection consists of 19 letters from H.L. Mencken to Ernest A. and Madeleine E. Boyd. The letters are arranged in 19 folders and contained in 1 box.


  • 1923 - 1951

Collection-level Access Restrictions

Most manuscripts collections at the Georgetown University Booth Family Center for Special Collections are open to researchers; however, restrictions may apply to some collections. Collections stored off site require a minimum of three days for retrieval. For use of all manuscripts collections, researchers are advised to contact the Booth Family Center for Special Collections in advance of any visit.

Biographical note

Henry Louis Mencken was born in Baltimore on September 12, 1880, and was educated there at private schools and Baltimore Polytechnic. Between 1899 and 1935 he worked as a reporter and editor at several Baltimore newspapers including The "Baltimore Morning Herald," "The Evening Herald," "The Baltimore Sun," and "The Evening Sun." From 1908 to 1923 he was a critic for "Smart Set," of which he was also co-editor from 1914 to 1923. He was editor of "The American Mercury" from 1924 to 1933 and of "The Nation" from 1921 to 1932. He was also the author of numerous books, including plays, novels and social political, and literary commentary. H.L. Mencken died in Baltimore in 1956.

Ernest Augustus Boyd was born in Dublin, Ireland on June 28, 1887, the son of James Robert Boyd and Rosa Kempston Boyd. Privately educated, young Boyd passed the competitive examinations for the British Consular Service. He had been taught by a French tutor and became an expert in French literature. Later he attended schools in Switzerland and Germany, where he became adept in Italian, Spanish, German and modern Greek. Instead of entering the consular service at once, Boyd in 1920 joined the editorial staff of "The Dublin Irish Times" and contributed articles on politics and the Irish theater to London newspapers. In 1913 Boyd married Madeleine Reynier, a Parisienne who had gone to Dublin to teach and study at Trinity College. He entered the consular service, as Vice Consul, and came to Baltimore in the United States. He was later sent in a similar capacity to Barcelona, Spain and Copenhagen, Denmark. During the First World War, Boyd was accused of being a Sinn Feiner and was in difficulty with the British Government. In 1920 he resigned from the British consular service and came to New York, where he lived until his death in 1946.

While in Baltimore, Boyd had become a close friend of Henry Louis Mencken, editor of "The American Mercury." Many of his critical articles appeared in "The Mercury" as well as other periodicals. Obviously influenced by Mencken, Boyd was known as a caustic critic with an Irish wit, and something of a minor iconoclast whose reviews were read widely, if not feared. He was a co-founder of "The American Spectator," created to take the place of "The American Mercury" after H.L. Mencken resigned as editor. This "literary newspaper" was discontinued in February, 1935. Boyd was the author of several books, including a biography of H.L. Mencken in 1925 and numerous short stories and plays.

Madeleine Boyd was a well known literary agent, best known for placing "Look Homeward Angel" and "Of Time and the River" for Thomas Wolfe. Mrs. Boyd, the wife of Ernest Boyd, was born Madeleine Elise Reynier in France in 1886. She was the translator of "A Commoner Married a King" and author of an autobiographical novel, "Life Makes Advances." She continued to live in New York after the death of her husband until her own death on May 5, 1972.


0.25 Linear Feet (1 box)

Language of Materials


Source of Acquisition note

Purchased at auction, 1986?

H. L. Mencken - Ernest A. and Madeleine E. Boyd Collection
Michael J. North. Georgetown University Library Booth Family Center for Special Collections
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Repository Details

Part of the Georgetown University Manuscripts Repository

Lauinger Library, 5th Floor
37th and O Streets, N.W.
Washington DC 20057