Collection RC0651 - Ethel Smyth collection

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Ethel Smyth collection

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  • [1878]-1939 (Creation)

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19 letters

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Biographical history

Dame Ethel Smyth, composer, author, and feminist, was born on 23 April 1858 in Sidcup, England. She was educated at the Leipzig Conservatorium. As well as several operas and other musical pieces, she composed suffragette music, including The March of the Women.

She was the first woman to receive an honorary degree from Oxford University. She wrote several autobiographical works, beginning with <I>Impressions That Remained (1919) and ending with What Happened Next* (1940). She died in Woking, Surrey on 9 May 1944.

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Scope and content

The collection contains letters from Pablo Casals, Albert Einstein, Gustav Holst, William James, Clara Schuman, Peter Tchaikovsky, Cosima Wagner, and others. Smyth drew on these letters in her autobiographical writings.

There is one letter from Smyth to Kenneth Wright, 19 November 1929. For additional letters written by Smyth, researchers are directed to the Eric Walter White fonds.

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Immediate source of acquisition

Letters to Smyth were purchased from Bertram Rota Ltd. in July 1977. The letter from Smyth was purchased at Sotheby's auction on 19 November 1985 by Bertram Rota Ltd. for McMaster University.


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