An Inventory of His Collection at the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center
George Sturt was born in Farnham, Surrey, in 1863. He was a grammar school teacher until 1894 when his father died, after which George Sturt took over the family wheelwright shop in Farnham, where he lived for the rest of his life. He wrote numerous books and articles under the name George Bourne.
Sturt's first published book was A Year's Exile (1898), a novel--his only published novel--about country life among the people of Surrey. Many of Sturt's later books, essays, and articles dealt with country people and life, and at times with more specific and technical aspects of the practices and tools of the wheelwright and farmer. Among such books were The Bettesworth Book (1901), Change in the Village (1912), Lucy Bettesworth (1913), A Farmer's Life, with a Memoir of the Farmer's Sister (1922), and The Wheelwright's Shop (1923), often considered to be his best book. Sturt also authored a book on aesthetics titled The Ascending Effort (1910).
Although Sturt had friends in literary circles in London, he rarely left his village: he was devoted to the observation of the life and crafts there. Sometime in 1916 Sturt was struck with an illness which left him partially paralyzed; however, he continued to write until his death in 1927.
The George Sturt Collection (1893-1927) consists of holograph and typescript drafts of books, articles, and essays; typescripts of passages from Sturt's journals; and Sturt's holograph letters. The collection is arranged in three series: works, journals, and letters.
The works series is arranged alphabetically by the title of each piece. The manuscripts of articles, essays, and books represent the complete range of subjects and themes on which Sturt wrote. The works in the collection cover topics such as timber, tools, socialism, and philanthropy, all of which center in some way around village life and labor in the present and past. The manuscripts are in a variety of states of completion, but most manuscripts are in Sturt's hand and are heavily revised. Of his major work the collection includes two early versions of The Ascending Effort, a holograph manuscript titled "Evolution and Art," and a typescript, retitled "Art and Empire" ; a manuscript of the title sketch of Lucy Bettesworth; and the heavily revised manuscript of Sturt's unpublished novel "The Extinction of the Keens," accompanied by a letter to Sturt's friend, sent before Sturt began to write the novel, which outlines the book's plot.
Typescript passages from Sturt's journals appear to be transcriptions made from the originals with corrections in Sturt's hand. The two main periods covered by the journals are 1901-1905 and 1923-1927. The entries covering from March 1925 through January 1927 make up over half of the series. The journals contain the seeds of Sturt's published writing. Entries include descriptions of people and scenes in his village, but Sturt's reflections deal not only with village life but broader social issues, such as labor, free trade, and spirituality; some entries are Sturt's reactions to books or articles he had recently read. It is not known if the original journals are extant.
The bulk of the letters series is comprised of Sturt's holograph letters to William W. Kennerley, 1893-1925. In these letters Sturt confides his literary ambitions and describes the everyday activities of his life. Among these letters is Sturt's translation from the Latin of Chapters IX and XIII of Cicero's De Senectute, with notes describing the syntactical difficulties of translation. The same envelope, postmarked 19 February 1893 and addressed to Kennerley, contains Sturt's synopsis of his first published book, the novel A Year's Exile. This is the sole item in the collection representing Sturt's published fiction. Other letters are to Alfred Eggar and Dr. Henry C. Mercer and discuss tools and other implements.
Open for research
Purchase, 1968 (R4356)
Bill Stingone, 1995
George Sturt Collection--Folder List