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Finding Aid for the John Stuart Verschoyle Papers 1884-1915
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Access
  • Publication Rights
  • Preferred Citation
  • Acquisition Information
  • Biographical Note
  • Scope and Content
  • Indexing Terms

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: John Stuart Verschoyle papers,
    Date (inclusive): 1884-1915
    Collection number: MS.2007.001
    Creator: Verschoyle, John Stuart
    Extent: 2 boxes (1 linear foot)
    Repository: University of California, Los Angeles. Library. William Andrews Clark Memorial Library
    Los Angeles, California 90095-1490
    Abstract: Correspondence sent to John Stuart Verschoyle from a wide-ranging group of fin-de-siecle notables, dating 1881-1915 and undated. Though much of the correspondence issues from Verschoyle's role as assistant editor of the Fortnightly Review, a significant number of items related to African colonial interests are also included.
    Physical location: Clark Library.
    Language of Material: Collection materials in English


    Collection is open for research.

    Publication Rights

    Copyright has not been assigned to the William Andrews Clark Memorial Library, UCLA. 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.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], John Stuart Verschoyle papers, MS.2007.001, William Andrews Clark Memorial Library, University of California, Los Angeles.

    Acquisition Information

    The items in this collection were acquired by the Clark Library in 2007.

    Biographical Note

    John Stuart Verschoyle was born in Ireland in 1853 to Anglo-Irish gentleman James J. Verschoyle and his wife Catherine Foster. After receiving his B.A. from Pembroke College, Cambridge University in 1881, he was appointed curate of the Church of the Holy Trinity, Marylebone, London in 1882. During his early years in London, Verschoyle made the acquaintance of Frank Harris, whom he introduced to his group of literary friends and assisted by editing his early submissions to various London periodicals. This helped lead to Harris' appointment as the editor of the London Evening News in 1883. In 1886, Harris left the Evening News for a post editing the Fortnightly Review, which he would continue to do until 1894. While Verschoyle's formal role as editor during this entire time is unclear, it seems that by at least 1889, he was formally installed as an assistant editor at the Fortnightly, where, as several contemporaries remarked, he seemed to take on the lion's share of the work. During this time, he did not function just as an editor of Harris' writing, but actively solicited contributions to the Fortnightly from prominent individuals in a wide variety of fields, which is well-reflected in the correspondence collected here. In 1891, Verschoyle moved out of London and would not live in the city again for the rest of his life. During the years he served as the rector of Creeting St Peter, Suffolk (1891-1893), and Huish Champflower, Somerset (1893-1915), he still apparently visited London, helped Harris with editorial matters and kept in regular correspondence with his literary and political friends. His editorial work seems to have largely tapered off by the early 1900s, and there are several letters from this time also inquiring after his poor health.
    In addition to Verschoyle's activity in literary circles, he was also quite involved in the "Scramble for Africa" in the late 19th century, which is well represented in his correspondence. He apparently spent some time in Africa in his youth, and became a staunch advocate of British mining interests. In 1889, he convened a dinner for Cecil Rhodes and Harry H. Johnston at his London apartment in order to facilitate their meeting, and throughout the 1880s and 90s published pro-Rhodes articles and editorials (some anonymously as "Imperialist" in British journals and newspapers). His advocacy on behalf of Rhodes reached its apex with his writing of a laudatory 1900 Rhodes biography apparently commissioned by Rhodes himself. Though it was published under the pseudonym "Vindex," Verschoyle's support of Rhodes was well-known enough that several contemporary reviewers suspected him as the author.
    Verschoyle's work for social reform, is somewhat less overtly prominent in this correspondence, but is nonetheless significant. His activism, particularly in the anti-vivisection movement, seems to have its roots in his relationship and admiration for suffragist and reformer Frances Power Cobbe, whom he met as an undergraduate in 1878. At that time, he was involved organizing government petitions against the death sentence handed to Isabel Grant, a woman who had killed her abusive husband, and after this was apparently a close member of Cobbe's circle until her death in 1904. She recruited him to be the editor of the anti-vivisection journal The Abolitionist in 1899, and some of his letters seeking contributions for that paper are included here.
    Verschoyle is most often remembered in the memoirs, biographies and histories of his friends and colleagues as a footnote or in a few short paragraphs at most. Those who mention Verschoyle in detail describe a handsome man, powerfully built with very blond hair and mustaches, of very broad theology but very hard-working and dedicated to his parishioners. The paradox of a clergyman working closely with the famously profane Harris seems odd, and indeed, Harry H. Johnston described Verschoyle as "one of the strangest characters of [his] acquaintance." (Johnston, The story of my life, p. 218) He often entertained parties both large and small in his London apartment, convening together groups of writers, journalists, politicians and social reformers.
    John Verschoyle died on July 30, 1915 in a nursing home in Taunton, Somerset.

    Scope and Content

    This collection includes approximately 400 letters written to John Stuart Verschoyle between 1881-1915 by a diverse group of leaders in late Victorian literature, politics, journalism, social reform and society. The majority of letters are related to Verschoyle's work as an assistant editor of the Fortnightly Review and the social circle he built as a result of this work, but Verschoyle's connections to colonial African mining interests are also well-represented. Many letters also document his commitment to and involvement in social reform causes. Frequent correspondents include Frank Harris, Theodore Watts-Dunton, Oswald Crawfurd, Frances Power Cobbe, Edward Dowden, Edmund Gosse and Emile Joseph Dillon. Other important names represented here include Henry James, Rudyard Kipling, Thomas Hardy, W.T. Stead, and A.C. Swinburne.
    The collection is organized into the following series:
    • Series 1. Correspondence, 1881-1915. 2 boxes (1 linear foot)
    • Series 2. Miscellany, 1888-1893. 3 folders

    Indexing Terms

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


    Africa -- Colonization
    Animal rights activists -- England -- 20th century
    Journalism -- England -- 19th century

    Genres and Forms