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John Masefield letters to Mary Jerrold

Identifier: MSS 0768

Scope and Contents

This collection comprises nineteen letters from English author John Masefield (1878-1967) letters to English actress Mary Jerrold (1877-1955), in which he complimented her performances (often as characters in his own plays), wished her well on opening nights, discussed his writing, and arranged visits and outings.

Masefield praised Jerrold for her performance as Jenny in The Tragedy of Nan, as well as her performance as Kezia in Melloney Holtspur; or The Pangs of Love. In addition, Masefield sent Jerrold a few photographic postcards of places from which he drew inspiration for scenes that appeared The Tragedy of Nan. The collection also includes a printed and illustrated copy of Masefield’s poem, The Ballad of Sir Bors, and an illustrated broadside of Masefield’s The Racer.


  • Creation: 1911-1941


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,

John Edward Masefield (1878-1967)

John Edward Masefield (1878-1967) was an English poet, novelist, and playwright.

From 1894-1897, Masefield indulged his love of the sea as a sailor, traveling first to Chile and then to the United States, where he held several types of jobs in New York and read voraciously. His travels inspired many of his later works.

Upon returning to London in 1897, Masefield took a position as a clerk. He began to write more seriously, producing some of his most noted poems, such as "Sea-fever" and "Cargoes." In 1900, Masefield was introduced to Irish poet W. B. Yeats. It was due to his friendship with Yeats that Masefield decided to become a full-time writer.

In 1903, Masefield married Constance de la Cherois Crommelin. Together they had a daughter and son, Judith (1904-1988) and Lewis (1910-1942). During this time Masefield turned to drama. The Tragedy of Nan (1909) was considered his most successful play, although his foray into drama proved less successful than his poetry or fiction. Masefield’s most noted works include his narrative poems Dauber (1913) and Reynard the Fox (1919) and his novels Lost Endeavour (1910), The Bird of Dawning (1933), and Dead Ned (1938).

Gervais, David, “Masefield, John Edward (1878-1967),” Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, 2016.

Mary Jerrold (1877-1955)

English actress Mary Jerrold (1877-1955) performed on the stage and enjoyed a career in British film between the 1930s and the 1950s.

Jerrold had her debut role on the English stage in Mary Pennington, Spinster in April 1896. She had leading roles in several of John Masefield's productions, including Jenny Pargetter in The Tragedy of Nan and Kezia Spinfield in Melloney Holtspur.

Jerrold began acting in British films in the 1930s, the years of the early sound films or "talkies." Her career lasted through the post-War era, and she appeared in a variety of genres, including comedy, drama, musical and war films. She also had a part in an early silent film, Disraeli (1916.)

Jerrold was a granddaughter of Henry Mayhew (1812-1887), one of the founders of Punch magazine.

The Sketch: A Journal of Art and Actuality. Vol. 19. [Google Books]. September 15, 1897. Google Books. 304. Information derived from dealer description.


0.3 linear foot


This collection comprises John Masefield’s letters to English actress Mary Jerrold, a selection of privately printed poems, and a few photographic postcards.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Purchase, February 2016.

Shelving Summary

Box 1: Shelved in SPEC MSS manuscript boxes (1 inch)

Finding aid for John Masefield letters to Mary Jerrold
University of Delaware Library, Special Collections
2016 April 29
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the University of Delaware Library Special Collections Repository

181 South College Avenue
Newark DE 19717-5267 USA