The Montague Summers papers comprise the surviving collection of letters, manuscripts, and printed ephemera belonging to this popular author at the time of his death in 1948. A significant portion of the collection consists further of the papers of Summers' friend, the English author and literary biographer S.M. Ellis, which came into Summers' possession after Ellis' death in 1933 (Summers dedicated his 1933 anthology, Victorian Ghost Stories, to the memory of S.M.E.). Both men shared interests in the romantic literature of the 19th century and in the literature and lore of the supernatural. In addition to numerous literary manuscripts of Summers are lengthy series of letters from friends and admirers, fellow researchers and authors, and publishers and editors. The letters and other material collected by both Summers and S.M. Ellis complement one another, and as a result reveal a wider aspect on the literary scene of the first half of the 20th century as well as on the largely unknown private lives of these two men: a letter to Summers from pioneering sexologist Havelock Ellis (in Series 1) is complemented by an inscribed monograph and letter by Dr. Ellis to S.M. Ellis (located in Series IV, Sub-Series A); the "dossier" of clippings related to Aleister Crowley, kept by Summers who is known to have been an acquaintance, is supplemented by a letter to S.M. Ellis from an assistant to Crowley, inferring Ellis' expressed interest in meeting Crowley.
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.
9.64 Linear Feet (21 boxes)
The Montague Summers papers have been arranged in four series: Series I. Letters and Correspondence; Series II. Manuscripts; Series III. Printed Matter; and Series IV. the Stewart Marsh Ellis papers. The arrangement of each series is described in turn in the record for that series.
A brief history of the discovery of Montague Summers' papers has been provided in "The Manuscripts of Montague Summers, Revisited" by Gerard O'Sullivan, published in Antigonish Review, Fall 2009, Issue 159, p. 111-131. 21p.
The processing of the Montague Summers papers was determined by two overriding conditions: the lack of an apparent original order and the physical state of the collection. Many multi-page manuscripts had been fragmented and separated throughout the collection, and the whole shows signs of water, and subsequent mold, damage; in addition to this, there is evidence that material has been removed from the collection at some point. Prior to arrangement and description of the collection it went through a lengthy process of cleaning, as well as conservation and repair; while the collection as a whole is in good condition and stable, care should be taken in using the collection as many documents are quite fragile.
During arrangement and description, basic preservation steps taken included the removal of fasteners and clips (nearly all corroded), and interleaving acidic materials with a neutralizing micro-chamber paper.
Because of the amount of manuscript material (typed and handwritten manuscripts and letters of varying lengths), and the separate provenence of the Ellis papers, the collection was first thoroughly sorted, and as much of the separated material as possible was rejoined. As many of the individual correspondents have been identified as possible, as have the individual literary manuscripts. In many cases, this work has been quite approximate; only manuscripts and ephemera that clearly belonged to S.M. Ellis have been described as the "Stewart Marsh Ellis papers" in the final series. The identification of letters and manuscripts was helped greatly by Timothy d'Arch Smith's A Bibliography of the Works of Montague Summers (Nicholas Vane: London, 1964), and by reference to the acknowledgments of the various longer works of Montague Summers and S.M. Ellis. For the most part, arrangement of the collection consisted of aggregating similar materials to facilitate piecing together the many fragmented manuscripts. The various levels of arrangement (series, sub-series, file, sub-file) have been applied only when necessary to assist in this task. While the longest descriptive series in the collection, the letters (of Summers and Ellis) and the manuscripts of articles and editorials, have been arranged in a basic alphabetic order, many of the series or sub-series have not been arranged beyond the grouping of similar material, such as galley proofs.
Part of the Georgetown University Manuscripts Repository