Fonds BC649 - Oswald Doughty Papers

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Oswald Doughty Papers


  • undated (Creation)

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Extent and medium

1990 items

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Biographical history

Professor Oswald Doughty (1889-1975) was born at Kingston-upon-Hull in Yorkshire. He was educated privately and at Kingston-upon-Hull College. He graduated M.A. at Durham in 1918 and B.Litt. at Oxford in 1922. After a short spell as a schoolmaster he joined the staff of University College, London, soon becoming a senior lecturer. In 1929 he accepted the post as Arderne Professor of English Literature at U.C.T., which position he held until his retirement as Professor Emeritus in 1954. He was the first specialist Professor of Literature at U.C.T. In 1949 he became a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in London. He became internationally known as a leading authority on the Victorian painter-poet Dante Gabriel Rossetti, his: 'A Victorian Romantic' being the definitive biography of Rossetti. It was the "Book of the month" in London when it was first published in 1949. He also edited a standard edition of Rossetti's poems (1957) and, with Professor J.R. Wahl, a standard edition of the 'Letters of Dante Gabriel Rossetti' (1965-1967). He also published books and articles on the lyric poets of the 18th century and spent the last years of his life on a life of Coleridge, which has not been published. Quite apart from, and perhaps as a relief from, his literary bent he published "Early diamond days in South Africa" in 1963, a study of life on the diamond fields. He married a Frenchwoman, Mlle Henriette Spitz, of Paris in 1923. They had one daughter, Odile.

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Scope and content

The Oswald Doughty papers were bequeathed to the University of Cape Town Libraries in 1977 from the estate, and number 1 990 items. The collection consists mainly of material connected with Professor Doughty's writings; much of it related to Dante Gabriel Rossetti and his circle. There are copies of many of Rossetti's letters, as well as letters from people who had known, or met, Rossetti. Also included is a large collection of Rossettian photographs, amongst which are photographs of a death mask of Rossetti and cast of his hand. He had expressly forbidden that a death mask be made. Many of the letters of appreciation written after the publication of his various books are from people who are themselves prominent in the literary world, such as Lord David Cecil, H.V. Morton, and Eric Partridge. Much of the collection consists of typescripts of books and articles by Professor Doughty, including his, as yet, unpublished biography of Coleridge: 'Perturbed Spirit.' Professor Doughty kept copies of several of his letters and of these, some are on the backs of copies of Rossetti letters.


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  • English

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  • English



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