Biographical sources

To date these has not been a major biography of Priscilla Wakefield. Most researchers (whatever their focus) refer to aspects of her life in their study and ultimately most of that information is derived from Priscilla’s Journals and other primary sources such as her Library Journal and family letters. The biography by Ann B. Shteir in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography has a useful list of sources. Some of these refer to the Hazel Mews papers. In her article ‘Priscilla Wakefield as a Writer of Children’s Educational Books’ Bridget Hill also refers to the Hazel Mews Collection.

The Hazel Mews Collection is held at the Library of the Religious Society of Friends in London. She was an academic and librarian. In the 1960s she began research for a biography of Priscilla. Hazel Mews did not complete the work and died after 1975. Her notes are available to researchers but some parts of the collection are restricted. It appears that most if the material consists of photocopies.

For his book The Wakefields: a Sort of Conscience’ Philip Temple accessed the Mitchell Papers in Devon. His notes refer to the TS version of the Journal and also a hand-transcription. This may have been made from the original and is possibly the source of the more widely circulated TS version.

While researchers are fortunate these materials are still in existence the gaps of some years in the Journal and the selected nature of the entries are a frustration. However, in the prefaces of Priscilla’s books the careful reader can sometimes find an additional insight.

Published in: on June 22, 2009 at 2:10 am  Comments (1)  

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  1. I am at the moment engaged in writing a biography of Priscilla – I’ve been fortunate to know Philip Temple quite well and to be encouraged by him to do this. I’d love to communicate more directly with you about her if that is possible.

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