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Walter Shewring papers

Identifier: GTM-GAMMS190
The Walter Shewring Papers is a small collection of letters, essays and manuscripts by Shewring. The most notable item is the full autograph manuscript of Shewring's translation of Homer's "Odyssey," published by the Oxford University Press (1980). The collection includes some correspondence and printed articles by such distinguished acquaintances as Walter de la Mare, Eric Gill, David Jones, and Arthur Waley.


  • 1930-1988
  • Majority of material found within 1940-1980

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.


1.25 Linear Feet (3 boxes)

Biographical note

Walter Hayward Francis Shewring was born on January 1, 1906, and educated at Bristol Grammar School. From there he continued his education, brillantly, at Oxford University, winning the Craven Scholarship and Chancellor's Prize for latin Prose. While at university, he converted to Catholicism. In 1928, Shewring joined the faculty at Ampleforth College, Yorkshire, as Classics master. Indeed, he was a great scholar and expert tanslator of Greek and Latin prose and verse. Shewing was also a passionate scholar of Italy, the result of a vacation he spent there as a student on a travel grant from Oxford University. In addition, he was a distinguished musicologist, a writer and translator of hymns -- notably for the Westminster Hymnal -- as well as an important force in the revival of the classical organ. A number of his learned papers on organs appeared in musical journals and he served on the committee which designed the organ at the Royal Festival Hall.

In his youth, Shewring had been an admirer of Eric Gill, and it was at Gill's house, Piggotts in Buckinghamshire, near High Wycombe, that he, a conscientious objector, spent the years during World War II as a farm hand. Through his friendship with Gill, he was introduced to the intellectual and artistic circle that included Hilaire Belloc, Max Beerbohm, David Jones, Ezra Pound, Herbert Read, Edmund Rubbra, and Stanley Spencer.

The Piggotts cirlce had a deep influence on Shewring, especially in ethics, aesthetics, and politics; and he was, therefore, the obvious choice as editor of Gill's letters. The development of certain eccentricities in Shewring's character -- such as his scorn for machinery -- has been attributed to his close association with Piggotts. He is said to have declined to use the telephone, even refusing to accept notification that he had been awarded the honor of Cavaliere dell'Ordine al Merito by Italy (1978), because it was announced to him via that device. In another instance, he spent a cold night in a hotel room because he thought the electric heater was a wireless set.

Shewring produced a steady flow of essays, translations and poetry. In 1927, a collection of his poems was privately published by St. Dominic's Press, Ditchley, under the title "The Water Meads." These and other poems were lated published by the same press in 1930, under the title "Hermia." The latter collection is available in the Rare Books Collection at Georgetown University Library. In 1948, Cambridge University published his work "Italian Prose Usage," and later, he became one of the revisers of "Hoare's Italian Dictionary." Perhaps his most distinguished academic work is Shewring's translation of Homer's "Odyssey," published by Oxford University Press (1980). This was intended by Shewring to replace Rieu's Penguin version, which he apparently disparaged. His translation was well received by literary and academic circles.

During the last two decades of his life, Shewring lived quielty in the monatery at Ampleforth. He continued to teach small classes in Classics, Dutch, and Italian until his mid-eighties. He died at Scorton, Yorkshire, on August 2, 1990.

Other finding aids note



Provenance: Series 1 and 2 are the gift of Walter Shewring; Series 3 has been made available by Rev. John Hagreen, 1993.
Walter Shewring papers
Georgetown University Library Booth Family Center for Special Collections
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Repository Details

Part of the Georgetown University Manuscripts Repository