Jump to Content

Collection Guide
Collection Title:
Collection Number:
Get Items:
Finding aid to the James Lewis May Papers
View entire collection guide What's This?
PDF (416.24 Kb) HTML
Search this collection
Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Administrative Information
  • Biographical Note
  • Scope and Content
  • Organization
  • Related Materials
  • Indexing Terms

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: James Lewis May Papers,
    Date (inclusive): 1814-1963
    Date (bulk): (bulk 1926-1940)
    Accession number: MS.1976.013
    Creator: May, J. Lewis (James Lewis), b. 1873
    Extent: 1762 items
    Abstract: The May papers include correspondence addressed to James Lewis May and his daughter, Barbara Lewis May, as well as manuscripts of works by May and his correspondents.
    Repository: William Andrews Clark Memorial Library
    Los Angeles, CA 90018
    Physical location: Clark Library
    Language of Materials: English.

    Administrative Information

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item, subseries and series], James Lewis May Papers, MS.1975.013. Williams Andrews Clark Memorial Library, University of California, Los Angeles.


    Collection is open for research.

    Restrictions on Use

    Copyright has not been assigned to the William Andrews Clark Memorial Library. All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Librarian. Permission for publication is given on behalf of the William Andrews Clark Memorial Library as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained.


    Clark Library purchase, 1976.

    Processing Note

    This collection was originally processed as a separate series within the Oscar Wilde and His Literary Circle Collection, and as such, is physically housed and interfiled with the Wilde collection under call number "MS. Wilde," even though it is now described separately.
    Many of the manuscript and print materials described within this finding aid have also been cataloged individually. Those individual records for print materials are available via the UCLA Library's online catalog, while the records for manuscript materials are accessible only through a physical card catalog located at the Clark.
    In 1957, a printed catalog of all Wilde-related works then owned by the Clark Library (approximately 2900 items) was compiled by John Charles Finzi and published as Oscar Wilde and his Literary Circle by the University of California Press. Over the course of the next four decades, many new Clark acquisitions were added to the collection and approximately one-third of the collection was microfilmed at least once.
    In 2000, the first version of the Oscar Wilde and his Literary Circle online finding aid, which described all archival materials in the Clark collections related to Wilde and his circle was written by John Howard Fowler. In 2009, this original finding aid was separated into several parts, edited and re-encoded by Rebecca Fenning in order to make its very large size (over 1000 pages) and scope more manageable for researchers. Instead of one guide describing the entire collection, there are now 5 more easily navigated guides devoted to different components of the collection: Correspondence,  Manuscripts and Miscellaneous Materials,  Wildeiana,  Forgeries  and the James Lewis May Papers. 

    Biographical Note

    James Lewis May was a prolific author, translator, and publisher of the first half of the twentieth century. In 1936, he published John Lane and the Nineties, and throughout the 1920s and 1930s, wrote other studies of writers such as Charles Lamb, George Eliot and Anatole France. In the 1930s, May converted to Roman Catholicism, and subsequently wrote a series of works on Cardinal John Henry Newman, Father George Tyrrell, and issues of interest to English Catholics.

    Scope and Content

    This collection contains correspondence addressed to James Lewis May from various figures in the literary world and from those in the English Catholic community. His letters reflect his biographical and critical work on John Lane, Anatole France, Cardinal John Henry Newman and others, as well as his growing involvement with the Roman Catholic Church. Many letters are from French authors or concern his translation of works from the French. Also included here are letters written his daughter, Barbara Lewis May as well as some letters written between some of his correspondents, manuscript works by May and by some of his correspondents. The final series described in this finding aid also includes some May family papers dating back to 1814.


    This collection is organized into the following series:

    Related Materials

    The James Lewis May Papers are physically housed with and were formerly described as a subset of the papers of Oscar Wilde and his Circle. The following finding aids describe segments of the Wilde collection, which include reference to and correspondence between many of the literary and artistic figures represented in the May papers.

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.


    Lane, John, 1854-1925
    Authors--England--20th century
    Biographers--England--20th century
    Catholic converts--England--20th century
    Bles, Geoffrey
    Bodley Head (Firm)
    Brown, Walter H. (Walter Henry)
    Burdett, Osbert, 1885-1936
    Cammaerts, Emile, 1878-1953
    Dagman, Francis S., 1851-1940
    Farjeon, Eleanor, 1881-1965
    Jonathan Cape (Firm)
    Lion, Leon M., 1879-1947
    Lockhart, John Gilbert, 1891-
    May, Barbara
    O'Brien, Georgina
    Reade, F.V.
    Rhys, Ernest, 1859-1946
    Rooke-Ley, Frank
    Thiéry, Maurice