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Collection Overview

Symons, A.J.A. (Alphonse James Albert), 1900-1941
Princeton University. Library. Special Collections
A. J. A. Symons collection
Manuscripts Division
Permanent URL:
1910-1993 (mostly 1910-1929)
1 box and 0.2 linear feet
Storage Note:
Firestone Library (mss): Box 1


Consists of selected manuscripts, correspondence, and documents of the twentieth-century British biographer and bibliophile A. J. A. Symons.

Collection Description & Creator Information


The collection consists of a small number of selected manuscripts, correspondence and documents of the British biographer and bibliophile A. J. A. Symons, chiefly related to Symons's work on the "Nineties," which was a bibliography (with biographies) of the writers and book illustrators of the eighteen-nineties. There are manuscript notes as well as two copies of a 14-page typescript of the 'Bibliographical Introduction', with holograph corrections and annotations by the author, and a typescript titled "On Youth." Correspondence of Symons includes two letters to Frederick Evans regarding his portraits of Aubrey Beardsley, and three letters to the poet John Gray.

Other related material includes two letters from M. Fisher to Symons' brother, the British poet, novelist, historian, and critic Julian Symons, and one letter to Julian Symons from the author Charles Derry. These letters mention A. J. A. Symons and his work. In addition, there are legal documents for the purchase of a boarding house for Julian Symons and his wife, Minnie Louisa Symons.

Collection Creator Biography:

Symons, A.J.A. (Alphonse James Albert), 1900-1941

A. J. A (Alphonse James Albert) Symons (1900-1941) was an English writer and biographer. In 1922, he founded the "First Edition Club" to display exhibitions of manuscripts. He completed his first biographical work, Emin, Governor of Equatoria, in 1928. Previously to that, he produced a bibliography of the first works of Irish poet William Butler Yeats, as well as an anthological work on 1890s authors, of which he was an authority. His most notable work, The Quest for Corvo, was published in 1934. After his death in 1941 he left several unfinished works, such as a biography of Oscar Wilde.

Collection History


Letters to Evans were purchased on January 22, 2002 .

Material related to the "Nineties" was purchased on July 15, 2002 .

Letters from Gray were purchased on March 14, 1970 . Various AM.

Custodial History

The collection was formed as a result of a Departmental practice of combining into one collection material of various accessions relating to a particular person, family, or subject.


No appraisal information is available.

Processing Information

This collection was processed by Dina Britain on January 12, 2009. Finding aid written by Natalie Kim on February 10, 2009. Folder Inventory added by Hilde Creager (2015) in 2012.

Access & Use

Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. No further photoduplication of copies of material in the collection can be made when Princeton University Library does not own the original. Inquiries regarding publishing material from the collection should be directed to RBSC Public Services staff through the Ask Us! form. The library has no information on the status of literary rights in the collection and researchers are responsible for determining any questions of copyright.

Credit this material:

A. J. A. Symons collection; Manuscripts Division, Department of Special Collections, Princeton University Library

Permanent URL:
Firestone Library
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