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Antonia White letters to Brian Hill and George Dunbar

Identifier: MSS 0099-F0930

Content Description

British author Antonia White wrote these ten personal letters to her friend and fellow writer Brian Hill and his partner George Dunbar.

The letters, each handwritten, are filled with references to White’s writing projects, such as her Clara Batchelor novels, and to her personal life. White wrote of her inability to write, lamented her need to do translations in order to earn a living, and expressed appreciation for the encouragement she received from Hill on her writing. Antonia White also touched on her struggle with mental illness and the treatments she was receiving, noting: “It is a bore about the mental treatment. I hope it will succeed but am none too optimistic.”

In her letters, White commented on having recently received poetry written by Hill, or praised a book of his which she had just read. The letters include invitations to dinner and acceptances to parties hosted by Hill and Dunbar, such as one to celebrate Hill’s translation of Jean Rimbaud’s, The Drunken Boat.

Her friendship with Brian Hill and George Dunbar is poignantly expressed in her long and intimate letter, written on July 6, 1969. White wrote to convey her shock at the news of Dunbar’s death and sought to console Hill in his terrible loss, writing: “I think how good he was—and how good you are too—and how you both shame us who call ourselves “Christians.”


  • Creation: 1950 March 16-1971 December 28


Language of Materials

Materials entirely in English.

Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Use of materials from this collection beyond the exceptions provided for in the Fair Use and Educational Use clauses of the U.S. Copyright Law may violate federal law. Permission to publish or reproduce is required from the copyright holder. Please contact Special Collections, University of Delaware Library,

Antonia White (1899-1980)

British writer and translator Antonia White was born in London, England, on March 31, 1899.

Frost in May, was Antonia White's first novel and was based on her experiences in Catholic convent school as an adolescent. White's three later novels, including The Lost Traveller, The Sugar House, and Beyond the Glass, form the Clara Batchelor trilogy, which is also largely autobiographical.

As a translator, White is best known for her English-language translations of Colette's novels. White was also a fashion editor for the London Daily Mirror and the London Sunday Pictorial and wrote several books for children.

Antonia White died on April 10, 1980, in London.

"Antonia White." Contemporary Authors Online. Gale Biography In Context. (accessed February 12, 2013)

Brian Hill ( -1979)

British author and translator Brian Hill, who was born on May 2, 1896, in London, England, wrote poetry, compiled anthologies, and translated works from French and Latin.

Brian Hill also wrote detective and mystery novels, such as Death in a Box and I Like a Good Murder under the pseudonym of Marcus Magill. Additionally Hill was a contributor to Bookman, Times (London), and other periodicals and newspapers.

Brian Hill and Sir Geoffrey Keynes were the executors of Samuel Butler's literary estate and together they edited Samuel Butler’s correspondence with Miss E. M. A. Savage, as well as Butler’s notebooks.

Hill’s first book of poetry, Youth’s Heritage, was published in 1917. Hill’s Collected Poems and Translations, was published in 1971. Brian Hill died in 1979.

"Brian (Merrikin) Hill." Contemporary Authors Online. Gale Biography In Context. (accessed February 13, 2013)

George Dunbar

George Dunbar was the partner of Brian Hill over the twenty years represented in this correspondence. In White’s letter written on July 6, 1969, in which she consoled Hill at Dunbar’s death, she wrote, “I don’t think I know any two people who loved each other so much and were so happy together and who loved each other more and more as time went on.”

Biographical information derived from the correspondence.


10 item (19 pages)


British author and translator of Colette's novels Antonia White (1899-1980) wrote these letters to fellow British author and translator Brian Hill (1896-1979) and Hill's companion George Dunbar (died 1969). She shared literary and personal news, especially comforting Hill after Dunbar's death in 1969.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Purchase, 2012.

Related Materials

This item forms part of MSS 0099 Miscellaneous Literary and Historical Manuscripts. MSS 0105, Emily Holmes Coleman papers

Shelving Summary

Box 63, F0930: Shelved in SPEC MSS 0099 manuscript boxes.

OCLC Number

Processing Information

Processed and encoded by Anita Wellner, February 2013. Further encoded by George Apodaca, November 2015.


Finding aid for Antonia White letters to Brian Hill and George Dunbar
University of Delaware Library, Special Collections
2015 November 17
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Repository Details

Part of the University of Delaware Library Special Collections Repository

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