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Charlotte D'Evelyn was born on May 23, 1889 in San Francisco, California to Frederick William D'Evelyn and Susan Taylor D'Evelyn. She received a B.L. from Mills College in 1911 and a Ph.D. from Bryn Mawr College in 1917. As a graduate student she was awarded a grant fellowship to study in Oxford, England. Upon her graduation she began teaching English literature at Mount Holyoke College with a focus on Middle English and Chaucer. She became a full professor in in 1932 and was chair of the English Department from 1939-1945. She edited many medieval texts and wrote a variety of articles and papers. She continued her research in medieval texts after her retirement in 1954. She died at the age of eighty-eight on December 18, 1977 in Central Falls, Rhode Island.
The Charlotte D'Evelyn Papers consist of correspondence, writings, biographical information, dies of bookplates and coat of arms, photographs and lantern slides. The materials document her experiences as a graduate student at the University of Oxford in England at the time of the World War I, her career as an English professor at Mount Holyoke College and her passion for medieval languages and literature. The correspondence mainly consists of letters written to her family during her trip to and while in England for her graduate studies, 1915-1916. Of note are letters describing sightseeing, her social and academic life at Oxford and aspects of her wartime experience in England in such as air raids, bombing campaigns, blackouts, and public involvement and reaction to the war. The writings include a variety of unpublished personal essays written in England with topics such as "Fairies", "Amateurs in Art" and "Oxford Sketches". Other writings consist of publications and manuscript editions of articles and books on subjects pertaining to medieval language and literature. Biographical information includes biographical notes, copies of newspaper clippings, tributes and obituaries. Also included are memoirs of her mother, Susan Taylor D'Evelyn and writing on the Baha'i faith. Photographs include a formal portrait of D'Evelyn and photographs showing her with students and colleagues. The lantern slides used by D'Evelyn in her classes at Mount Holyoke College pertain to English architecture, landscape and Shakespearian memorabilia.
Material from this collection is available in an online digital format.
This collection is organized into six series:
Please use the following format when citing materials from this collection:
Charlotte D'Evelyn Papers, Mount Holyoke College Archives and Special Collections, South Hadley, Masachusetts
The collection includes four letters to her mother (since her mother died when Charlotte was about three, this is probably her step-mother) written during her year of public school teaching in California, 1912-13; one from Bryn Mawr in 1915; and then frequent letters addressed to her family starting with June 11, 1915 while en route to England on a graduate fellowship, and continuing through to the end of that calendar year. There are four more letters written from England between March 12 and April 2, 1916. All these early letters are signed Mina.
Included also are scattered letters after her year in England, beginning with the letter of her Mount Holyoke appointment (july 25, 1917) and ending with a letter from her nephew in 1972.
The letters from England begin with a description of sightseeing in Chester (she landed in Liverpool) and on to London where she spent most of the summer. From there she went on to Oxford in the fall, enrolling in some classes and working on her medieval manuscripts. She describes the life of an American graduate student at Oxford, the living arrangements, English customs, meetings with other students at frequent teas, dinner at Lady Margaret (Nov. 11), Thanksgiving (church, dinner, football - Nov. 28), the Boar's Head ceremony at Queen's College (Dec. 26).
All these letters reflect war-time conditions in Britain. Soldiers are everywhere. She reports on a recruiting meeting in London's Guildhall with Lord Kitchener and another at Oxford in the riding school with the Bishop of Oxford, Duke of Marlborough, etc. (July 11 and Oct. 4). There are blackouts, air raids, and bayonet practice on the Oxford meadows. The Oxford women students adopted a prisoner of war, with packages weekly (valued at 6s.) sent to the Continent, each containing four pounds of bread and other gifts (Nov. 21). She describes a hospital visit to a wounded soldier.
Her humor is nicely illustrated when writing about one of her first visits to the Bodleian. Sir F. Madan explained that D'Evelyn must be the old Latin name of Dublin. "I'll now be able to explain the name is not French...., but godd old Irish and that our family came over with J. Caesar and founded the city of Dublin." (Oct. 10, 1915).
Mount Holyoke College Archives and Special Collections
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