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Hilaire Belloc - Elizabeth Greenhill collection

Identifier: GTM-GAMMS403

Collection-level Scope and Content Note

The Hilaire Belloc - Elizabeth Greenhill Collection (1 box, .25 linear feet) contains 10 letters from historian and writer Hilaire Belloc to his bookbinder, Elizabeth Greenhill, dated between January 1938 and May 1940. Of the Belloc - Greenhill Papers, seven are typed signed letters and three are handwritten. Belloc discusses a number of books and correspondences he was working on or having bound at the time, such as "The County of Sussex", "The Old Road", "Verses", and "The Path to Rome." Two of the letters discuss "The Path to Rome", which he wrote about his own pilgrimage from Toul to Rome, also reference the then Queen Dowager of Belgium. Belloc was in contact with and planned to send the Queen an inscribed copy of his book. The letters in this collection are also significant in their discussion of the particular binding techniques and layouts which Belloc preferred, including choice of gilding, use of linen, and color of the binding leather. Other areas of interest include more personal subjects. For example, one letter dated May 3, 1940 makes reference to Belloc's poor health and forgetfulness. Another, dated July 5, 1939 mentions the marriage of a young woman to whom Belloc wanted to present a bound copy of "Verses."


  • 1938-1940

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.

Conditions Governing Use

Researchers are solely responsible for determining the copyright status of the materials being used, establishing who the copyright owner is, locating the copyright owner, and obtaining permission for intended use.

Biographical notes

Hilaire Belloc (1870-1953) was a distinguished English writer, poet, essayist, and historian. Born in La Celle-Saint Cloud, France, he was educated at the Oratory School in Birmingham. Belloc worked as a journalist and served in the French military before graduating with first-class honors in history from Balliol College, Oxford in 1894. Belloc subsequently wrote his first works: "Verses and Sonnets", published in 1895, and "The Bad Child's Book of Beasts", published in 1896. Belloc then married Californian Elodie Hogan in 1896 before becoming a naturalized British subject in 1902. He then served as a member of Parliament from 1906 to 1910. His notable historical works include "Danton" (1899), "Robespierre" (1901), "The Path to Rome" (1902), "Europe and the Faith" (1920), "History of England" (1925-31), "James II" (1928), and "Wolsey" (1930). As an experienced college debater and a devout Roman Catholic, Belloc was known for taking part in fierce debates with H.G. Wells and Protestant historian G.C. Coulton. [Source: Encyclopedia Britannica Online]

Elizabeth Greenhill (1907-2007) was an English bookbinder. Greenhill was born in Paris to wealthy parents and educated at a number of schools including the Bedales School in Hampshire, a finishing school in Florence, and the convents of the Sacred Heart in Roehampton and Brussels. Greenhill learned gold-tooling, bookbinding, drawing, and design at the Ecole des Arts Decoratifs pour Dames in Paris and at the Central School of Arts and Crafts in London. She then established a bindery in Doughty Street, Bloomsbury where she got her first important commissions, such as the Gloucester Civic Bible for the Silver Jubilee of King George V and Queen Mary in 1935 which was commissioned for Queen Elizabeth of the Belgians. Greenhill served as an air raid warden during World War II before establishing her second bindery in South Kensington. Although initially she worked with her sister, Mary Greenhill, Elizabeth Greenhill began to branch out on her own in the late 1950's. Greenhill worked with Walter de la Mare, Hilaire Belloc, and other notable authors before beginning work on the restorations of rare books in Florence after the flood of the Arno in 1966. She was the first woman to be elected to the Guild of Contemporary Bookbinders and was elected its president in 1965. [Source: "Elizabeth Greenhill"]


0.20 Linear Feet (1 Hollinger Slim Document Case)

Language of Materials


Acquisition Information

Status: Open. Processed by Meredith Manning, March 2009.

Hilaire Belloc - Elizabeth Greenhill collection
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