University of Texas, Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center

Joanna Richardson:

An Inventory of Her Papers at the Harry Ransom Center

Creator: Richardson, Joanna, 1925-2008
Title: Joanna Richardson Papers
Dates: 1844-1969 (bulk 1945-1969)
Abstract: The Joanna Richardson Papers consist of manuscript and typescript drafts, page proofs, incoming letters, scrapbooks, research notes, and clippings documenting her early work as a biographer, translator, literary critic, and journalist from 1945 to 1969.
Call Number: Manuscript Collection MS-3519
Extent: 10 document boxes, 1 oversize folder (osf), 1 galley folder (gf) (4.20 linear feet)
Language: English and French
Repository: The University of Texas at Austin, Harry Ransom Center

Biographical Sketch

Joanna Leah Richardson (1925-2008) was a prolific biographer, translator, literary critic, and journalist, known for her studies of nineteenth and early twentieth-century French and English authors.

Born on August 8, 1925, in London, England, Joanna Richardson was the daughter of Frederick and Charlotte Richardson. She spent her childhood at Hampstead Garden Suburb and was educated at the Downs School, Seaford, in Sussex. She then studied at St. Anne's College, Oxford, where she read modern languages. After graduation, she worked briefly as a research assistant to the illustrations editor of Chambers's Encyclopaedia, and then became a correspondent for the New English Weekly. She later returned to Oxford to do research under Enid Starkie, a literary critic and biographer of nineteenth-century French poets.

Richardson began her career as a biographer in 1952, with the publication of Fanny Brawne: A Biography, a study of the muse of poet John Keats. Her other biographies and studies of English poets include Edward FitzGerald (1960), The Pre-Eminent Victorian: A Study of Tennyson (1962), The Everlasting Spell: A Study of Keats and His Friends (1963), Edward Lear (1965), and The Life and Letters of John Keats (1981).

In 1958, Richardson published Théophile Gautier: His Life and Times, the first of many biographies of French authors. Her later works included Verlaine (1971), Stendhal (1974), Victor Hugo (1976), Zola (1978), Colette (1983), Judith Gautier (1986), and Baudelaire (1994). In 1989, Richardson was awarded the prestigious Prix Goncourt for biography for Judith Gautier, becoming the first non-French author to receive the award.

In addition to her biographies of authors, Richardson published biographies of historical figures such as Princess Mathilde Bonaparte, George IV, Leopold I of Belgium, and Louis XIV. She translated the poems of Verlaine and Baudelaire into English, as well as Théophile Gautier's Mademoiselle de Maupin. She contributed articles and reviews to numerous newspapers, magazines, and academic journals. She also contributed to BBC radio programs, recording features on literary history and translating plays for the radio from the French.

Richardson was elected a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 1959, and she served on the council from 1961 to 1987. She was appointed a Chevalier de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres in 1987. Oxford University awarded her a DLitt several years before her death. Richardson died on March 7, 2008, at age 82. At the time of her death, she was writing a biography of Gustave Flaubert.

Scope and Contents

The Joanna Richardson Papers consist of manuscript and typescript drafts, page proofs, incoming letters, scrapbooks, research notes, and clippings documenting her early work as a biographer, translator, literary critic, and journalist from 1945 to 1969. The material is arranged in two series: I. Works and Translations, 1953-1969, and II. Career and Personal Papers, 1844-1965 (bulk 1945-1965). This collection was previously accessible through a card catalog but has been re-cataloged as part of a retrospective conversion project.

Series I., Works and Translations, contains manuscripts, typescripts, and page proofs from Richardson's early biographies of European literary and historical figures, including My Dearest Uncle: A Life of Leopold I, First King of the Belgians (1961), The Pre-Eminent Victorian: A Study of Tennyson (1962), The Everlasting Spell: A Study of Keats and His Friends (1963), and Princess Mathilde (1969). Also present are manuscripts, typescripts, and page proofs for her series of biographies on the formative years of famous authors and historical figures. These include The Young Lewis Carroll (1963), The Young Louis Pasteur (1964), The Young Tennyson (1964), and The Young Sarah Bernhardt (1965). Richardson published the latter two works under the pseudonym Charlotte Hope.

Also present in Series I are a number of Richardson's articles, radio broadcast scripts, and lectures on British and French literary and cultural history. Richardson's work as a translator is represented by her translations of A New Lease of Life by Georges Simenon, plays by Charles Cordier and Michel de Ghelderode, and several poems by Verlaine. The collection contains a bound two-volume copy of her thesis, Théophile Gautier: Journalist and Critic. Other unpublished works in this series include The Londoners, an anthology of literary excerpts depicting historical London, and Tatterdemalion, a children's story.

Incoming letters, scrapbooks, research notes, and clippings comprise the bulk of Series II., Career and Personal Papers. Most incoming letters in the collection are from colleagues, publishers, and BBC radio staff and pertain to Richardson's published works, radio programs, and research. Incoming letters are also located in Richardson's scrapbooks. No outgoing correspondence is present in the collection.

Four scrapbooks document Richardson's career from 1950 to 1965, containing manuscript and typescript drafts of reviews and articles, newspaper clippings of items by and about Richardson, notes, incoming letters, and contracts. Research notes, transcriptions, and clippings document Richardson's research on a wide range of subjects and time periods.



Open for research. Part or all of this collection is housed off-site and may require up to three business days notice for access in the Ransom Center’s Reading and Viewing Room. Please contact the Center before requesting this material:

Index Terms

Richardson, Joanna
Biography--19th century
Biography--20th century
French literature--19th century
English literature--19th century
Document Types
First drafts
Galley proofs
Manuscripts for publication
Page proofs
Radio scripts

Administrative Information


Purchase, 1964 (R2088)

Processed by:

Shelley Rowland, 2009; updated by Heather Bollinger, 2012


"Dr. Joanna Richardson."  The Times (London), March 24, 2008, p. 48.

"Joanna Richardson."  Contemporary Authors Online, (accessed 13 October 2009).

"Joanna Richardson."  The Daily Telegraph (London), March 12, 2008, p. 23.

Plowright, Piers. "Joanna Richardson."  The Independent (London), March 18, 2008, p. 42.

Container List

Series I. Works and Translations, 1953-1969, undated

1.1 Articles, A-Z, 1958-1963, undated
"The Critic and the Public," typescript with corrections and printer's notes, for Essays by Divers Hands, Vol. 32, 11 pp., 1961, 1963
"Dew-drops for the Opening Bud," adaptation of radio script "Children and What to Do with Them," proof sheet, 1 pp., undated
"A More Than Auditory Experience," carbon copy, 2 pp., undated
"New Light on the Hotel Pimodan," typescript, 3 pp., undated
"Sound Radio and Its Needs," undated
Manuscript and typescript with corrections, 5 pp.
Typescript with corrections and inserts, 7 pp.
Typescript with corrections, 2 pp.
Carbon copies, three copies, 2 pp. each
"Théophile Gautier fils: Auteur d'une oeuvre de son père?," typescript, 6 pp., undated
"Théophile Gautier: Unpublished and Unrecorded Writing," The Modern Language Review, Vol. 53, No. 2, 1958
1.2 The Disastrous Marriage (1960), unused introduction and plan for book, carbon copy, 5 pp., undated
The Everlasting Spell: A Study of Keats and His Friends (1963)
1.3 Research notes on Charles Brown, bound, 19 pp., undated
Research notes on Keats and his circle, 62 pp., undated
Postcard, John Keats, bronze cast from a life-mask, National Portrait Gallery, undated
1.4-5 Typescript with corrections, 120 pp., undated
1.6-7 Typescript with corrections, 181 pp., undated
1.8-9 Carbon copy with corrections, 278 pp., undated
1.10-2.1 Carbon copy with corrections, 278 pp., undated
2.2-3 Typescript with printer's marks, blurb, layout, 280 pp., undated
2.4 Page proofs, 251 pp., 1963
2.5 Proof copy, bound, 251 pp., 1963
2.6 Introductions, 1963-1964
Essays by Divers Hands: The Transactions of the Royal Society of Literature, Vol. 32 (1963), carbon copy, 2 pp., undated
Things Seen by Victor Hugo (1964), corrected typescript fragment, 3 pp., undated
2.7 Lectures, 1963, undated
"Queen Victoria at Home" (1963)
Typescript with corrections, 5 pp., undated
Typescript with corrections, 10 pp., undated
"Two Elian Editors: John Taylor and J. A. Hessey" (1963)
Typescript, 7 pp., undated
Carbon copy, 7 pp., undated
2.8 The Londoners, bound typescript with illustrations, 60 pp., undated
2.9-10 My Dearest Uncle: A Life of Leopold I, First King of the Belgians (1961), carbon copy with corrections, 250 pp., undated
The Pre-Eminent Victorian: A Study of Tennyson (1962)
3.1-2 Carbon copy with corrections, 295 pp., undated
3.3-5 Typescript with printer's annotations, blurb, 302 pp., undated
3.6 Proof copy, 309 pp., 1962
Princess Mathilde [(A) Portrait of the Princess] (1969)
3.7 Research notes, 50 pp., undated
4.1-2 Typescript with corrections, 205 pp., undated
4.3 Typescript with corrections, 99 pp., undated
4.4 Typescript with corrections, 102 pp., undated
4.5 Typescript final draft with corrections, 108 pp., undated
Radio broadcast scripts, 1953-1963
4.6 "Alice and the White Knight: A Study of Lewis Carroll," mimeograph, 18 pp., 1962
4.7 "Children and What to Do with Them: A Survey of Victorian Juvenilia," 1963
Typescript, early draft with corrections, 12 pp.
Typescript, paste-up with corrections, 10 pp.
Carbon copy, third script, 10 pp.
Carbon copy, fourth script, 14 pp.
Mimeograph copy with insert, 24 pp.
4.8 "Etudes et souvenirs: Théophile Gautier en Angleterre," typescript, 6 pp., 1954
"The Growler Age," interview with Sir Charles Tennyson, mimeograph, 19 pp., 1962
4.9 "Irving, My Grandfather," interview with Laurence Irving, 1963
Carbon copy with corrections, incomplete, 19 pp.
Transcription of recording, incomplete, 15 pp.
Mimeograph of script, 20 pp.
5.1 "Piazza di Spagna, or The English Traveller in Rome circa 1820," 1953
Mimeograph copy with corrections, 35 pp.
Mimeograph script, 35 pp., two copies
5.2 "The Pilgrimage of the Yonghy-Bonghy-Bo," mimeograph, 21 pp., 1962
"The True Elia: A Radio Essay on Charles Lamb," mimeograph, 26 pp., 1963
5.3 Reviews, undated
[Review of four autobiographies], undated
Manuscript/first draft with corrections, 5 pp.
Typescript/second draft with corrections, 1 pp.
Typescript/third draft with corrections, 2 pp.
The King Incorporated, by Neil Ascherson
Manuscript/first draft with corrections, 5 pp., undated
Typescript/second draft with corrections, 1 pp., undated
The Magic Lantern of Marcel Proust, by Howard Moses
Manuscript/first draft with corrections, 2 pp., undated
Typescript/second draft with corrections, 1 pp., undated
5.4 Tatterdemalion, typescript, 29 pp., undated
5.5-6 Théophile Gautier: Journalist and Critic, thesis, bound two-volume typescript with corrections, incomplete, undated
Translations, 1955-1963, undated
Cordier, Charles
5.7 The Beauty from Samos, mimeograph of radio broadcast script, 43 pp., 1955
5.8-9 The Guinea-Pigs
Typescript/first draft with corrections, 32 pp., undated
Carbon copy/second draft, 32 pp., undated
Typescript/third draft with corrections, 32 pp., undated
Typescript with corrections, incomplete, 19 pp., undated
Carbon copy, incomplete, 19 pp., undated
6.1 Knock Three Times Three
Draft manuscript, incomplete, with corrections, 8 pp., undated
Typescript, incomplete, with corrections, 8 pp., undated
Typescript, fragment, with corrections, 1 pp., undated
Typescript with heavy corrections, 14 pp., undated
Carbon copy, 16 pp., undated
6.2 Ghelderode, Michel de, "Mademoiselle Jaïre," mimeograph of broadcast script, 51 pp., 1956
6.3-4 Simenon, Georges, A New Lease of Life (1963), typescript with corrections, 238 pp., undated
6.5 Verlaine, Paul
"La bonne chanson XII," typescript, 1 pp., undated
"Colloque sentimental" from Fêtes galantes, typescript, 1 pp., undated
"L'heure du berger" from Poèmes saturniens, typescript, 1 pp., undated
The Young Lewis Carroll (1963)
6.6-7 Manuscript/first draft with corrections, 241 pp., undated
6.8 Manuscript and typescript/second draft with corrections, 66 pp., undated
6.9 Typescript/final draft with corrections, 77 pp., undated
7.1 Typescript/printer's copy, 81 pp., 1963
gf 1 Galley proofs with corrections, 38 pp., 1963
7.2 Page proofs with corrections, 134 pp., 1963
The Young Louis Pasteur (1964)
7.3-4 Manuscript/first draft with corrections, 257 pp., undated
7.5 Typescript/second draft with corrections, 66 pp., undated
7.6 Page proofs, 128 pp., 1964
osf 1 Illustrations, Anne Linton, proof, 1 pp., undated
The Young Sarah Bernhardt (1965)
7.7-8 Manuscript/first draft with corrections, 248 pp., undated
8.1 Typescript/second draft with corrections, 93 pp., undated
8.2 Carbon copy of final draft, 69 pp., undated
The Young Tennyson (1964)
8.3 Research notes, 36 pp., undated
8.4-5 Manuscript/first draft with corrections, 246 pp., undated
8.6 Typescript/second draft with corrections, 100 pp., undated
8.7 Carbon copy of final draft, 76 pp., undated

Series II. Career and Personal Papers, 1844-1965 (bulk 1945-1965), undated

8.8 Clippings
Le Figaro Littéraire, 2 items, 1954, 1956
Illustrated London News, 1844-1866, approximately 121 items, undated
The Saturday Review, 1 item, 1888
8.9 Incoming letters, A-Z, 16 items, 1945-1963, undated
8.10 Notes, on nineteenth-century France, 45 notecards, undated
9.1 Scrapbook 1, 111 pp., 1950-1965
9.2 Scrapbook 2, 18 pp., 1963
9.3 Scrapbook 3, 65 pp., 1963
9.4 Scrapbook 4, 33 pp., 1962-1964
9.5 Third-party works
"The Critics on Fanny Brawne," segment of radio broadcast script, 1952
[Lear, Edward], Emblems of the Ionian Isles, manuscript, 1 pp., undated
Richepin, Jean, brief handwritten note to unidentified recipient, undated
Starkie, Enid, "Flaubert's Madame Bovary," abstract of lecture given for the Royal Institution of Great Britain, two copies, May 4, 1949
Unidentified author, "Below Hungerford Bridge, Victory Night, 1946," typescript, 1 pp., undated
Finch, Robert, diaries and correspondence
9.6-10.1 Notebooks, five items, undated
10.1 Report on Finch materials in the Bodleian Library, typescript, undated
10.2 Typed copies, 90 pp., undated
Gautier, Théophile
10.3-4 Articles, typed and handwritten copies, approximately 200 pp., undated
10.5 Correspondence with Ernest and Inez Feydeau (1857-1871), typed copies, 14 pp., undated
10.6 Letters received (1841-1882), typed copies, 50 pp., undated
10.7 Mitford, Mary Russell, sample pages from diary (1819-1820), typed copy, 6 pp., undated
10.8 Tennyson, Alfred, miscellaneous correspondence (1856-1889), typed copies, undated

Index of Correspondents

  • Bryant, Arthur--8.9
  • Church, Richard, 1893-1972--8.9
  • Cleverdon, Douglas--8.9
  • Cooper, Terence--9.4
  • Draper, Ruth, [1884-1956]--8.9
  • Forman, Maurice Buxton--8.9
  • Gillard, Frank--9.3
  • [Gittings], Robert--8.9
  • Hewlett, Dorothy--9.3
  • Hibbert, Christopher, 1924-2008--9.3
  • Howard, G. Wren (George Wren), 1893-1968--9.1
  • Hudson, Harry K.--8.9
  • Kenyon, Katharine Mary Rose, b. 1887- --9.1
  • Osborne, Melissa--8.9
  • Rollins, Hyder Edward, 1889-1958--8.9
  • Starkie, Enid--8.9
  • Tennyson, Charles, Sir, 1879- --8.9
  • Trueman, Frances--9.4
  • Wakeham, Elsie--9.3-4
  • Waters, Frank--9.4

Bar Code List

  • 1--059188000054763
  • 2--059188000054774
  • 3--059188000054785
  • 4--059188000054796
  • 5--059188000054800
  • 6--059188000054810
  • 7--059188000054821
  • 8--059188000054832
  • 9--059188000054843
  • 10--059188000054854