Special Collections Department
A. J. A. Symons Papers
Manuscript Collection Number: 177
Accessioned: Purchase, 1986.
Extent: 72 items (1 linear ft.)
Content: Letters, pamphlets, prospectuses, notebooks, lectures, essays, biographies, booklets, drawings, agreements, contracts, and clippings.
Access: The collection is open for research.
Processed: August 1999 by Anita A. Wellner.
Special Collections, University of Delaware Library
Newark, Delaware 19717-5267
Table of Contents
Other biographies written by Symons include Emin, the Governor of Equatoria (1928) and H.M. Stanley (1933). Symons also wrote A Bibliography of the First Editions of Books by William Butler Yeats (1924), An Anthology of 'Nineties' Verse (1928), The Nonesuch Century (1936). Some of A. J. A. Symons's essays and short biographical studies were published posthumously by Julian Symons in Essays and Biographies (1969).
A. J. A. Symons, who founded the First Edition Club (London), served as one of the editors of The Book-collectors Quarterly, its official publication.
Several of Symons's literary projects, including a bibliography of the 1890s writers and a biography of Oscar Wilde, remained incomplete at the time of his death.
A. J. A. Symons, who also founded the Wine and Food Society, died on August 26, 1941.
Source:Magnusson, Magnus (ed.) Cambridge Biographical Dictionary. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1990. p. 1425.
Scope and Content Note
The small collection of letters in Series I includes Symons's letters to G. Jean-Aubry, concerning the sale of some Joseph Conrad letters in Symons's possession, and a letter to Osbert Burdett complimenting and criticizing Burdett's recent publications. Symons's letters to Ellis and Oscar Wilde concern completed chapters of his Wilde biography. His letters to Arnold Yates and to an unidentified individual concern The First Edition Club.
In addition, Series I includes a letter from Sir Hugh Walpole to David Garnett, in which Walpole expresses his dislike for Symons, and a letter from Bishop Charles Tyndall, in which he describes his friendship with Symons during World War II.
The second series of the papers consists of essays, lectures, bibliographies, biographies, stories, and other material written by Symons. Among the manuscripts are biographical notes and essays on Oscar Wilde, Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu, and the Tennant family. Other manuscripts include a lecture on the 1890s, Symons's selections for the "Gateway Standard Editions," an article on Curwen Press Books, page proofs for collections of his letters to Vincent O'Sullivan and Wyndham Lewis, and an autograph notebook.
The autograph notebook, which was probably written during the 1920s, includes a variety of notes, book-dealing records, ink caricatures, Wildean dialogue, lists of books in his personal library, several short stories, an incomplete essay on utopia, as well as miscellaneous notes and signatures.
Documents in Series III concern Symons's founding of and participation in The First Edition Club (London). A registration certificate, legal contracts dictating management, a design for a club logo, membership pamphlets, and several publications by The First Edition Club combine to provide information about the formation and early life of this institution.
The remainder of the collection consists of a contract between Symons and Andre Louis Simon, documenting the formation of The Wine and Food Society in 1934; Symons's copy of Lunch: A Conversation Piece; notes regarding the administration of A. J. A. Symons's estate, following his death; and several clippings.
Related collections:Mss 99 Symons's letters to C.P. Johnson and Hartley Clark
Mss 204 Julian Symons Papers
Series III. Material related to The First Edition Club is arranged with material related to the organization of the Club appearing in the initial folders, followed by a design of the Club logo, pamphlets describing the Club and its expansion, and finally publications of The First Edition Club. The publications are arranged in alphabetical order.
Series IV. consists of a single contract which legalized the formation of The Wine and Food Society. Series V. Miscellaneous material related to A. J. A. Symons includes three items.
I. Letters, 1925-1933 II. Manuscripts written by A. J. A. Symons, [1920-1982] III. Material related to The First Edition Club, 1922-1937 IV. Contract forming The Wine and Food Society, 1934 V. Miscellaneous material related to A. J. A. Symons, 1928-1950
1 Series I. Letters, 1925-1933 Includes letters from Symons to Aubry, Burdett, and Yates, as well as two letters which mention A. J. A. Symons. F1 Symons, A. J. A. (Alphonse James Albert), 1900-1941 To Jean-Aubry, G. (Georges), 1882-1950 1925 Oct 5 ALS 1p Oct 13 ALS 1p 1926 Jan 13 ALS 1p Feb 14 ALS 1p Feb 20 ANS 1p  Apr 13 ANS 1p 1927 Feb 11 TNS 1p Note: Includes letter from Symons to Field Roscoe & Co. F2 Symons, A. J. A. To Burdett, Osbert, 1885-1936 1925 Dec 26 ALS 2p F3 Symons, A. J. A. To Ellis 1925 Jul 16 ALS 1p F4 Symons, A. J. A. To Wilde [n.d.] ALS 1p F5 Symons, A. J. A. To Yates, Arnold 1933 Mar 6 TLS 1p F6 Symons, A. J. A. To unidentified 1932 Oct 17 TLS 1p F7 Tyndall, Charles, Bishop of Derry and Raphoe To unidentified [n.y.] Feb 24 ALS 3p F8 Walpole, Hugh, Sir, 1884-1941 To Garnett, David, 1892-1981 1931 Sep 27 ALS 4p 1 Series II. Manuscripts written by A. J. A. Symons, [1920-1982] F9 A. J. A. Symons to Wyndham Lewis: twenty-four letters with comments by Julian Symons (Edinburgh: The Tragara Press, 1982),  Typescript and page proofs, both with autograph corrections by Julian Symons. 48p. F10 [1890s: Art and Literature], [1930s] Unpublished Typescript, with autograph corrections and notes, lecture on art and literature in the 1890s, delivered by Symons at the Tomorrow Club. 14p. F11 "Gateway Standard Editions" list, [n.d.] Autograph and Typescript pages listing Symons's selections for the "Gateway Standard Editions," bearing notes by E. V. Lucas of Methuen Company. 4p. F12 Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu (1814-1873) essay, [n.d.] Autograph, with extensive revisions, unpublished and incomplete essay on Irish author Le Fanu, 20p. F13 "On Curwen Press Books," [n.d.] Article in Curwen Press Newsletter, (no. 8). 8p. F14 Some Letters of Vincent O'Sullivan to A. J. A. Symons (Edinburgh: Privately printed at The Tragara Press, 1975) Page proofs, incomplete. 8p. F15 [Tennant family], [n.d.] Autograph with revisions excerpts from Symons's proposed biography of the Tennant family, which was never completed. It includes an interview with Christopher Tennant (Lord Glenconner). 7p. 2 F16 [Untitled] notebook, [1920s] Autograph notebook containing signatures, ink caricatures, notes on "The Spectrum," an incomplete essay concerning utopia, early records on his book-dealing, Wildean dialogue, an unfinished short story on John Fenton, lists of furniture in his home, list of his early book acquisitions, several untitled short stories, a portion of the poem "The Ballad of Reading Gaol," and pages of miscellaneous notes and shorthand notations. 53p. 2 Series II. Manuscripts written by Symons (cont'd) [Untitled] biography of Oscar Wilde, [n.d.] Incomplete and unpublished manuscripts toward the biography. F17 Biographical notes on Oscar Wilde, [n.d.] Autograph. 2p. F18 Notes about Wilde as a schoolboy and at Oxford, [n.d.] Autograph and Typescript with autograph corrections. 13p. F19 Unpublished essay on Oscar Wilde for a bibliography of the 1890s, [n.d.] Typescript with autograph footnotes. 19p. Series III. Material Related to The First Edition Club, 1922-1938 The First Edition Club (London) was founded by A. J. A. Symons and Max Judge in 1922. F20 Registration certificate for The First Edition Club, 1922 Jun 30 F21 Legal agreement between A. J. A. Symons and Max Judge, 1923 May 4 Retires Judge as a partner in the club. F22 Legal agreement between A. J. A. Symons and William and Gilbert Foyle, 1923 Jul 6 Agreement regards the formation of a partnership for managing The First Edition Club. F23 The First Edition Club logo design, [n.d.] Framed drawing, possibly drawn by Percy Smith. Pamphlets describing The First Edition Club, 1928-1932 F24 Pamphlets detailing the rules of the club, membership lists, invitations, committees and members, history and purpose of the club, lists of benefactors, lists of exhibitions and books published by The First Edition Club, and an application form, 1930-1932 F25 Three pamphlets describing openings and enlargements of The First Edition Club facilities, 1928- 3 Series III. First Edition Club (cont'd) Publications of The First Edition Club, 1926-1937 F26 Book-Collector's Quarterly,  Order forms and prospectus for various issues. F27 Catalogue of a Comprehensive Exhibition of Post War German Book-Production including Printing, Calligraphy, Type-Design Illustration, and Trade and Hand-binding, (London: The First Edition Club, ),  Catalogue contains the bookplate of A. J. A. Symons. F28 Catalogue of an Exhibition of Books Printed in the U.S.S.R. in the Period 1930-1936 held by The First Edition Club, November-December 1936 (London: Pelican Press, ),  F29 Fifty Books of the Year (London: The First Edition Club, 1930-1938), 1930-1938 Proofs and copies of this exhibition list of 50 books selected from the publications of a particular year by a committee of club members. F30 First Edition Club - Opening Speech by Holbrook Jackson at an Exhibition of Percy Smith's Typographical Work (Camden Town: Mac, Hardy & Co., ), 1935 Two copies, including one inscribed by Jackson. F31 Four Letters From Edward Garnett to Joseph Conrad ([London]: The First Edition Club, 1926), 1926 Page proof. F32 Foyles Catalogue of Modern First Editions (London: W. & G. Foyle, Ltd., 1935), 1935 Mar Includes a list of books published by The First Edition Club and two order forms. F33 A List of Books Illustrated by Edy Legrand--Exhibited by The First Edition Club ([London]: The First Edition Club, 1932), 1932 F34 A List of Books Published by The First Edition Club ([London: The First Edition Club, 1929]), 1929 F35 Twenty Letters to Joseph Conrad: an introduction and some notes by G. Jean-Aubry (London: The First Edition Club, 1926), 1926 3 Series IV. Contract forming The Wine and Food Society, 1934 Mar 15 F36 Contract between Symons and Andre Louis Simon concerning their partnership and the society. Series V. Miscellaneous material related to Symons, 1928-1950 F37 "Administrating of A. J. A. Symons Estate," 1941-1943 Autograph document includes lists of expenses, funeral details, and a copy of the death certificate. F38 Lunch: A Conversation Piece by Daniel George (Private, April 1933), 1933 Inscribed "to A. J. from H. J. (Holbrook Jackson)." F39 Reviews of Julian Symons's A. J. A. Symons: His Life and Speculations and an article on Baron Corvo, 1928-1950
Back to the UD Special Collections Home Page