Collection K/PP75 - UNDERHILL, Evelyn (1875-1941)

Key Information

Reference code



UNDERHILL, Evelyn (1875-1941)


  • 1874-1997 (Creation)

Level of description



5 boxes and 12 volumes

Scope and content

Papers of and relating to Evelyn Underhill, 1874-1997 and undated, comprising personal correspondence of and concerning Underhill, 1888-1969 and undated, the correspondents including Baron Friedrich von Hugel (three letters, 1911-1916), Underhill's husband Hubert Stuart Moore (117 letters from Underhill to Moore, 1890-1912 and undated, and 30 letters from Moore to Underhill, 1898-1906 and undated), Rabindranath Tagore (typed transcripts of 10 letters from Underhill to Tagore, 1913-1914), and members of the Underhill family, the subjects ranging from Catholicism, travels in Italy, Switzerland and France, publications and lectures, spiritual matters and advice, mysticism, health, and World War Two; correspondence, 1907-[1954], with various publishers concerning Underhill's publications (some posthumous) and broadcasts, including copyright, costs, sales and royalties; manuscripts and typescripts containing proposed holiday itineraries and recording Underhill's impressions while travelling in Italy, Switzerland and France, 1898-1899, 1901-1907; poetry, 1917-1923 and undated, including some work which was published; a speech at King's College London on being elected a Fellow, 1927; an article on 'The Fountain of Life: an iconographical study', published in 1910; material relating to spiritual development, 1921-1939, mainly under the guidance of Baron Friedrich Von Hugel and including transcripts of his letters, 1921-1924, and other items on spiritual advice, confessions, goals and progress; papers relating to retreats and religious writings, 1924-1932 and undated, including notebooks and texts of addresses; printed material by and concerning Underhill, 1926-1941, 1990, including some of her publications; press cuttings, 1891-1949, mainly reviews of Underhill's work but also including early published pieces; sketchbooks and drawings, 1892-1911 and undated, including sketches and watercolours of marine scenes in Britain, ecclesiastical subjects, and Italian and French architecture; photographs, c1925-c1930s and undated, including a photograph and negatives of Underhill (one at Pleshey), a portrait of Baron Von Hugel, marine views, and views of French and Italian castles and towns; material relating to the Underhill family, 1874-1940, including the marriage certificate of Evelyn Underhill's parents, 1874, a family tree, c1891, a copy of Evelyn Underhill's will, 1940, and details of books in Dr Williams's Library, London, which originated from Underhill's library; obituaries of and articles about Underhill, 1941-1997, including theses, bibliographies, memoirs, biographical material and reflections on her work; newsletters of the Evelyn Underhill Association, 1992-1997.

System of arrangement

The collection is arranged in the following sections: personal correspondence (arranged alphabetically by correspondent); publishers' correspondence, including financial material; manuscripts and typescripts; printed material; press cuttings; sketchbooks and drawings; photographs; miscellaneous; obituaries and articles about Evelyn Underhill; newsletters of the Evelyn Underhill Association.

General Information

Name of creator


Biographical history

Born at Wolverhampton, 1875; educated at home, except for three years at a private school in Folkestone; read history and botany at King's College for Women, London; developed a knowledge of the art of France and Italy and travelled abroad each spring, 1898-1913; first work published, 1902; married (Hubert) Stuart Moore, a barrister, 1907; converted to Christianity, 1907; initially sympathetic to Roman Catholicism, but subsequently leant towards Anglicanism on intellectual grounds; after her conversion Underhill's life consisted of various religious work including writing, visiting the poor, and offering spiritual guidance, the latter increasing over time; published her first important book, Mysticism , 1911; honorary fellow of King's College for Women, 1913; became acquainted with the theologian Baron Friedrich Von Hugel to whom she was indebted spiritually; formally under his spiritual direction, 1921-1925; became a practising Anglican, 1921; Upton Lecturer on Religion, Manchester College Oxford, 1921-1922; began to conduct retreats, especially at Pleshey, Essex, 1924; several books were based on these; other publications included three novels, two books of verse, works on philosophy and religion, editions of and critical essays on the mystics John of Ruysbroeck and Walter Hilton, and reviews and articles for The Spectator , of which she was theological editor, and later for Time and Tide ; fellow of King's College London, 1927; in the 1930s became deeply interested in the Greek Orthodox Church and joined the Fellowship of St Alban and St Sergius; although employed in the naval intelligence (Africa) department at the Admiralty during World War One, her views changed and she was a Christian pacifist, 1939; joined the Anglican Pacifist Fellowship; honorary degree of Doctor of Divinity, University of Aberdeen, 1939; died at Hampstead, 1941. Cf The Letters of Evelyn Underhill , edited with an introduction by Charles Williams (1943). Cited in the Church of England Calendar from 1997. Publications include A Bar-Lamb's Ballad Book (1902), containing humorous verse concerned with the law; Mysticism (1911); Immanence. A book of verses [1913]; The Life of the Spirit and the Life of To-day (1922), based on her Upton lectures; Worship (1936), written for the Library of Constructive Theology; The spiritual life (1937); The Church and War (1940), written for the Anglican Pacifist Fellowship. Editor of or contributor to: The Miracles of Our Lady Saint Mary, brought out of divers tongues and newly set forth in English (1905); A Book of Contemplation the which is called the Cloud of Unknowing, in the which a soul is oned with God , edited from the British Museum MS Harleian 674, with an introduction by Underhill (1912); One Hundred Poems of Kabir , translated by Rabindranath Tagore, with an introduction by Underhill (1914); The Fire of Love or Melody of Love and the Mending of Life or Rule of Living , translated by Richard Misyn from the 'Incedium Amoris' and the 'De Emendatione Vitae', edited and done into modern English by Frances M M Comper, with an introduction by Underhill (1914); The Adornment of the Spiritual Marriage. The Sparkling Stone. The Book of Supreme Truth , translated from the Flemish by C A Wynschenk Dom, edited with an introduction and notes by Underhill (1916); Caroline Frances Eleanor Spurgeon, The Training of the Combatant: an address delivered for the Fight for Right Movement , with a note on the movement by Underhill (1916); The Confessions of Jacob Boehme , edited by W Scott Palmer, with an introduction by Underhill (1920); Walter Hylton, The Scale of Perfection , edited from MS sources with an introduction by Underhill (1923); Cardinal Nicolaus de Cusa Khrypffs, The Vision of God (De Visione Dei) , translated by Emma Gurney Salter, with an introduction by Underhill (1928); A Simple Method of Raising the Soul to Contemplation , translated by Lucy Menzies, with an introduction by Underhill (1931); Margaret Beatrice Cropper, Christ Crucified. A Passion play in six scenes , with an introductory note by Underhill (1932); Letters of direction. Thoughts on the spiritual life from the letters of the Abbe de Tourville , with an introduction by Underhill (1939); Eucharistic Prayers from the Ancient Liturgies , chosen and arranged by Underhill (1939). Published pseudonymously, as John Cordelier: The Path of the Eternal Wisdom. A mystical commentary on the Way of the Cross (1911); The Spiral Way. Being meditations upon the fifteen mysteries of the soul's ascent (1912). Some of her work has been reprinted and anthologised.

Archival history

Some items appeared in an exhibition at King's College London commemorating the 50th anniversary of Underhill's death in 1991.

Custodial history

In 1977 Evelyn Underhill's papers were donated to King's College London by the executors of Mrs G A Wilkinson (nee Nairn), Underhill's goddaughter, to whom she had bequeathed them. A thesis on 'The Writings of Evelyn Underhill: a Critical Analysis' was given by Sister Mary Xavier Kirby in 1977 (Ref: 9/10). Typescripts and letters of Underhill to Baron Friedrich von Hugel were given to King's College Library by Agatha Norman in 1978. Letters from Mabel Merrix to Evelyn Underhill, 1931-1941, and letters from Lucy Menzies to Mabel Merrix, [1938]-1953, were given to King's College Library by Paula M Sporck (Mrs Merrix's daughter) via Mrs F S Telfer in 1979 (Ref: 1/14). The papers were subsequently transferred to King's College Archives. Copies of letters relating to Evelyn Underhill and Margaret Cropper were given to King's College Archives by John Manola (Ref: 1/3). Todd E Johnson deposited his dissertation on Underhill in King's College Archives in 1996. Other material about Underhill has been added to the collection.

Conditions governing access

Open, subject to signature of Reader's undertaking form, and appropriate provision of two forms of identification, to include one photographic ID.

Conditions governing reproduction

Copies, subject to the condition of the original, may be supplied from open material for research purposes only.

Requests to publish original material should be submitted to the Archives.

Language of material

  • English
  • Italian

Script of material

Uploaded finding aid

Existence and location of copies

King's College London Archives holds copies of some items, which were used in an exhibition at the College in 1991.

Related materials

British Library, Manuscript Collections, holds three letters and a note from Underhill to Evelyn Wrench, 1927-[1930] (in Add MSS 59543-59544). British Library, Oriental and India Office Collections, holds a letter from Underhill to Cornelia Sorabji, 1941 (in MSS Eur F 165/202). The Royal Society of Literature, London, holds six letters from Underhill, 1924-1925, in its files. City of London Polytechnic, Fawcett Library, holds a letter from Underhill to A Maude Royden, 1930 (in Box 221) and a letter from Underhill to Mrs Roberts, 1933 (in A L vol VI). Royal Holloway and Bedford New College Library, Egham, holds a letter from Underhill to Caroline F E Spurgeon, in the library's copy of Underhill's The mystic way (1913). St Andrews University Library holds 53 letters from Underhill to Margaret Robinson, 1904-1917, and Underhill's 'Mid-Lent invitation', undated (Ref: MS BV5095 U6); three letters from Underhill to Friedrich Von Hugel, 1921-1922 (in MS5552). National Library of Scotland, Edinburgh, holds letters from Underhill to Elizabeth Haldane, [1928-1935] (in MSS 6014-6040). Trinity College Cambridge Library holds two letters from Underhill to Sir James George Frazer, 1918-1925 (Ref: Add Ms b 36/238; Frazer 4/90). St John's College Cambridge Library holds three letters from Underhill to J R Tanner, 1927 (in Cambridge Medieval History, box 2). The King's School, Canterbury, holds a letter from Underhill to Miss Trotter about the anthology 'Valour and vision', [1920?]. Devon Record Office, Exeter, holds a letter from Underhill to Miss M P Willcocks, 1927 (in 54/6). University of Reading Library holds a letter from Underhill to R L Megroz, 1927 (in MS1979/147). Cheltenham Ladies College Archives holds a letter from Underhill to Miss Sparkes, 1933 (in Autograph Collection, section A, no 139). Materials used in the preparation of Dana Greene's Evelyn Underhill: Artist of the Infinite Life (1990) were deposited in 1995 at the Bishop Payne Library, Virginia Theological Seminary, Alexandria, Virginia, which also holds a collection of her published works. There are also collections of her published work at Lambeth Palace Library and at the Retreat House, Pleshey, Essex.

Related descriptions

Publication note

Publications based on her papers include Fragments from an inner life: the notebooks of Evelyn Underhill , ed Dana Greene (Morehouse, Harrisburg, 1993); Evelyn Underhill: modern guide to the ancient quest for the holy , ed Dana Greene (State University of New York Press, Albany, 1988).

Alternative identifier(s)

Genre access points

Rules and/or conventions used

Compiled in compliance with General International Standard Archival Description, ISAD(G), second edition, 2000.


Archivist's note

Compiled by Rachel Kemsley as part of the RSLP AIM25 project. Sources: brief description in King's College London Manuscripts and Private Papers: A Select Guide (1982); Dictionary of National Biography; Who's Who; British Library online catalogue; National Register of Archives; Location register of twentieth-century English literary manuscripts (1988).

Accession area

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