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SPURGEON, Professor Caroline Francis Eleanor (1869-1942)

Identity Statement

Reference code(s): GB 0505 PP7
Held at: Royal Holloway, University of London
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Full title: SPURGEON, Professor Caroline Francis Eleanor (1869-1942)
Date(s): 1890-1936
Level of description: Collection (fonds)
Extent: 32 boxes or 0.32m3
Name of creator(s): Spurgeon | Caroline Francis Eleanor | 1869-1942 | Professor of English Literature
Detailed catalogue: Click here to view repository detailed catalogue


Administrative/Biographical history:

Caroline Spurgeon was born in India on 24 October 1869, the daughter of Christopher Spurgeon, a Captain in the 36th Foot, and Caroline Dunsmuir (according to the record of her baptism in the India Office births, marriages and deaths records, Vol. 130 folio 65). Her mother died giving birth to her (see letter of 1 May 1910 in PP7/1/2), and her father appears to have married again, but himself died in 1874. She was educated at Cheltenham, Gloucestershire; Dresden, Germany; and King's College and University College, London; Quain Essayist and Morley Medallist, University College London, 1898; First Class Final Honours in English, Oxford University, 1899. For Michaelmas Term 1899, she acted as assistant to Miss Lee, Tutor and Lecturer to the Association for the Education of Women, but then for family reasons had to give up work for some months. From May 1900 she was lecturing in London: she was appointed Lecturer in English Literature under the London School Board, giving weekly lectures in the Evening Continuation Schools at South Hackney, and on Shakespeare in Welwyn, Hertfordshire. She was appointed to the staff of Bedford College, University of London, in 1901: Assistant Lecturer in English, 1901-1906, Lecturer in English Literature, 1906-1913, and Hildred Carlile Professor of English Literature (and Head of Department), 1913-1929. She was made Emeritus Professor of English Literature in 1929. In 1911 she was awarded a doctorate of the University of Paris for her thesis 'Chaucer devant la critique', and in 1929 she was made D. Lit. of the University of London for her '500 years of Chaucer criticism and allusion'. She was awarded a Research Fellowship by the Federation of University Women, 1912, and was elected Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 1916. She was a member of the British Educational Mission to America in 1918, on which she met Virginia Gildersleeve, Dean of Barnard College, Columbia University, New York, USA, with whom she lived during the summer vacations, either in England or in the USA, for the rest of her life. She was Visiting Professor at Columbia University, 1920-1921, first President of the International Federation of University Women, 1920-1924, and member of the Departmental Committee to inquire into the position of English in the Educational System of England, 1929-1931. She settled in 1936 in Tucson, Arizona, USA, in the hope of relieving her arthritis, and she died there on 24 October 1942. Publications include: 'The works of Dr. Samuel Johnson' (H.K.Lewis, London, 1898); 'Richard Brathwait's comments in 1665, upon Chaucer's Tales of the Miller and the Wife of Bath' (ed.) (London, 1901); preface to an edition of 'The Castle of Otranto' by Horace Walpole (Chatto & Windus, 1907); 'Chaucer devant la critique en Angleterre et en France depuis son temps jusqu' nos jours' (Paris, 1911); 'William Law and the mystics' in the Cambridge History of English Literature (1912); 'Mysticism in English literature' (Cambridge University Press, 1913); 'The privilege of living in war-time: an inaugural address to King's College for Women' (University of London Press, London, 1914); 'Five hundred years of Chaucer criticism and allusion, 1357-1900' (Chaucer Society, 1914-1922, Cambridge University Press, 1925); 'The training of the combatant: an address delivered for the Fight for Right movement' (Dent and Sons, London, 1916); 'Poetry in the light of war' (English Association, London, 1917); 'The refashioning of English education: a lesson of the Great War' (Atlantic Monthly, Jan. 1922); Essay on Jane Austen in 'Essays by Divers Hands' (Transactions of the Royal Society of Literature) Vol VII (Humphrey Milford, London, 1928); 'Essays and studies by Members of the English Association' (ed.) (Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1928); 'Keats's Shakespeare: a descriptive study based on new material' (Humphrey Milford, London, 1928); 'Imagery in the Sir Thomas More fragment' (Review of English Studies, Vol VI, No 23, July 1930); 'Leading motives in the imagery of Shakespeare's tragedies' (London, 1930); 'Shakespeare's iterative imagery, i, as undersong, ii, as touchstone, in his work' (London, [1931]); 'Shakespeare's imagery and what it tells us' (Cambridge University Press, 1935)


Scope and content/abstract:

Professor Spurgeon's papers comprise mainly notes, 1895-1912, taken at lectures attended as an undergraduate and afterwards, and teaching notes and course syllabuses, 1901-1927, relating to lectures given at Bedford College and elsewhere, including for London County Council evening classes. She kept two volumes of notes on the students she taught at Bedford College, and one letter survives (PP7/1/3/8) expressing appreciation for her teaching. There are papers relating to her research in English literature, including on Chaucer, mysticism, Ruskin, Shakespeare and Keats, [c.1900]-1933, and published copies of her works, 1901-1930, some with annotations. She collected newspaper cuttings on literature and her own work, and on current affairs, including feminism and women's suffrage and the First World War. There are papers relating to her work on international exchange of information about education, particularly for women, including her presidency of the International Federation of University Women, 1920-1924, and the British Federation's establishment of Crosby Hall International Hall of Residence, 1921-1929. There is one file of letters, cards and notes found in her books, 1889-1936, including letters from and to Frederick James Furnivall, founder of the Early English Text Society, Chaucer Society, Ballad Society, New Shakespeare Society, etc, and letters and cards from Edmund Gosse, Emile Legouis, Professor of English Literature at the Sorbonne, and George Heynes Radford (later Sir George Radford, Labour M.P. for East Islington). Two files of letters from CS to her aunt Mrs E. Harvey 1898-9, 1905-1914, were added to the papers in 1964. There is also a typed copy of Professor Spurgeon's will and bequest to Bedford College, 1936.

Access & Use

Language/scripts of material:

System of arrangement:

Arranged in sections as noted in the Scope and Content.

Conditions governing access:

Open to all registered users of the Royal Holloway, University of London Archives.

Conditions governing reproduction:

Copies may be supplied, subject to the condition of the original. Requests to publish original material should be directed to the College Archivist.

Finding aids:

Detailed listing available via online catalogue at

Archival Information

Archival history:

Presented to the College Archives on Spurgeon's death in 1942. The papers were transferred from the Bedford College Archives when the College merged with Royal Holloway in 1985.

Immediate source of acquisition:

Allied Materials

Related material:

Professor Spurgeon's staff file is in the College Archives (BC D186). The College Archives also contain papers relating to the Caroline Spurgeon Bequest, 1968-1978 (BC AR321/1/7); and to the Caroline Spurgeon Scholarship Prize and Memorial Prize (BC AR325/2/4-5). See also BC RF/141/10, Talk on the history of the International Federation of Women, by Elizabeth Poskitt, and RF/142/1, Memoirs of Virginia Gildersleeve.

Index cards of Professor Spurgeon's research into Shakespeare's imagery, with some unpublished mss on the subject, are at the Folger Shakespeare Library, Washington, D.C., U.S.A. (references: S.d. 1-52 and Y.d. 34). The records of the British Federation of University Women are held at the Women's Library, London Guildhall University (reference: GB 0106 5/BFW). The International Federation retains its own records in Geneva. There is an autobiographical chapter by Professor Spurgeon in Elga Kern's 'Fuhrende Frauen Europas' (re-issued 1999 by Ernst Reinhardt Verlag, Munich and Basel, edited by Bettina Conrad and Ulrike Leuschner)

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Publication note:

Description Notes

Archivist's note:
Compiled by Shirley Dixon as part of the HLF A2A project, August 2003.

Rules or conventions:
Compiled in accordance with General International Standard Archival Description, ISAD(G), second edition, 2000; National Council on Archives Rules for the Construction of Personal, Place and Corporate names, 1997.

Date(s) of descriptions:
Aug 2003

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